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Found Poetry Give Joy To Your Beloved Woman

Give Joy to Your Beloved Woman

Give joy to your beloved woman

Never leave her dissatisfied

Deliver her to pleasure

Enhance her sensations

Make every night a memorable night

Never disappoint her again

Experience new heights of pleasure

Stimulate all her secret spots!

Be a god of her intimate dreams

Take her to love heaven

What will lead to your ultimate satisfaction?

I was tired of being a virgin

I was curious about my sexual abilities

I was curious about sex

My hormones were out of control

I was frustrated and needed relief

It seemed like the next natural step

It would allow me to get sex out of my system so I could concentrate on other things

I thought it would relax me

It seemed like good exercise

I thought it would make me feel healthy

I could brag to other people about my sexual experience

I thought it would boost my social status

No more excuses for waiting

I got carried away

It became a habit

I'm addicted to sex

My regular partner was boring

I hadn't had sex in a while

I desired emotional closeness

It was a romantic setting

It was a special occasion

It was easier to go all the way than stop

It would get me gifts

It was a favor to someone

Someone offered me money to do it

Someone dared me

It was an initiation rite

I didn't know how to say "no"

I felt guilty

I felt insecure

I felt jealous

I felt like it was my duty

I felt obligated to

I was drunk

I was seduced

I was horny

I was bored

I was feeling lonely

I was under the influence of drugs

I was in the heat of the moment

I was sexually aroused and wanted release

I was turned on by the sexual conversation

I was pressured into doing it

I was verbally coerced into doing it

I was afraid to say "no" due to the possiblility of physical harm

It was expected of me

I wanted to be nice

I wanted to be popular

I wanted to make money

I wanted to get a job

I wanted to get a raise

I wanted the adventure

I wanted the excitement

I wanted to make a conquest

I wanted to end the relationship

I wanted to punish myself

I wanted to be used or degraded

I wanted to boost my self-esteem

I wanted to dominate the other person

I wanted to act out a fantasy

I wanted to feel powerful

I wanted to feel masculine

I wanted to have something to tell my friends

I wanted to enhance my reputation

I wanted to increase the number of sex partners I had experienced

I wanted to give someone a sexually transmitted disease

I wanted to see what was like to have sex while stoned

I wanted to lose my inhibitions

I wanted to achieve an orgasm

I wanted to see what it was like

I wanted to see what it was like to have sex with another person

I wanted to see if I could get the other person in bed

I wanted to gain access to that person's friend

I wanted to experience the physical pleasure

I wanted to see what all the fuss was about

I wanted to say "Thank You"

I wanted to say "Good Bye"

I wanted to say "I Miss You"

I wanted to welcome someone home

I wanted to celebrate a birthday or anniversary

I wanted to get out of doing something

I wanted to release tension

I wanted to get rid of a headache

I wanted her to stop bugging me about sex

I wanted to make someone else jealous

I wanted to break up my relationship

I wanted to break up another's relationship

I wanted to get even with someone

I wanted to even the score

I wanted to put passion back into the relationship

I wanted my partner to notice me

I wanted to get a special favor from someone

I wanted to change the topic of conversation

I wanted to please my partner

I wanted to help my partner forget about her problems

I wanted to increase my emotional bond by having sex

I wanted to intensify my relationship

I wanted to keep my partner satisfied

I wanted to lift my partner's spirits

I wanted to get the most out of life

I wanted a spiritual experience

I wanted to feel closer to God

I wanted to become one with another person

I wanted to express my love for this person

I wanted the person to love me

I wanted the person to feel good about herself

I wanted to feel connected to the person

I wanted to humiliate the person

I wanted to show my affection to the person

I didn't want to lose the person

I didn't want to disappoint the person

I felt like I owed it to the person

Someone told me this person was good in bed

I was curious what the person was like in bed

I knew the person was out of my league

The person was famous

The person had a lot of money

The person was really desired by others

The person was mysterious

The person wore revealing clothes

The person had a desirable body

The person had an attractive face

The person had beautiful eyes

The person had a great sense of humor

The person seemed self-confident

The person was intelligent

The person was available

The person was a good dancer

The person smelled nice

The person flattered me

The person made me feel sexy

The person really desired me

The person caressed me

The person was a good kisser

The person was too sexy to resist

The person offered to give me drugs

The person had too much to drink and I was about to take advantage

I realized I was in love

Forget about your bad experience in love

Put an end to your love failures

Your efforts rewarded

She wants you more now

She lifted her skirt

You know you came here to meet me

Quit talking and start shagging

Dance in the sheets all night long

Please don't forget this

Put an end to your love failures

Improbable things can really happen

Your hot nights of love are not far off

Amazing lovemaking is now possible

Join in our mass swinging orgies

Be damn good in it

Your bedroom will become lively

Become a fortunate fellow

Aim at new love victories

Enhance your wicked reputation

Nights full of passion are near

Act your fantasies out

Leave no weak spots in your life

Feel pride for your male power

You'll certainly feel much more manly

You will be king of bed surely enough

All women will dream about you

Why are you not replying?

Assembled from spam email subject lines

April 11, 2011

essay My Big T.O.E

My Big T.O.E.: A theory of science, art and spirituality ...

Oh, and the meaning of life

In the beginning, there was nothing.

I don’t mean the kind of nothing that’s in, say, an empty coffee cup.

It may look like there’s nothing in the cup, but there’s plenty in there.

There’s dust that you might be able to see if you shone a light in there just right.

There’s water in there. What’s the humidity right now? Usually around 80 or 90 percent?

I sneezed a little while ago. I bet there’s some of that in there, too.

If you had a microscope, you could probably see the bacteria lurking in there, clinging to the ceramic glaze, waiting for its next victim.

If the microscope were strong enough, you could see the the molecules and the atoms. You could see sub-atomic particles like protons and neutrons and gamma particles and photons. Muons and gluons. Fermions and bosons are the smallest particles, made up of little packets of energy called quarks. There are dozens if not hundreds of different kinds of sub-atomic particles.

Some of them interact with each other, some of them just travel around space with no purpose that we can conceive of.

And by we, I mean men in lab coats who knock these particles together to see how they scatter then create big chalkboards and computers full of formulas to explain why they scattered the way they did.

So even the vast emptiness of space isn’t so empty as to say there’s nothing out there in between the galaxies.

It’s full of photons, if nothing else, moving at 186,000 miles per hour, the fastest of all particles moving in waves in all directions, a giant cloud of beautiful photons coloring our universe.

There are scary things in there, too. There are particles moving through this cup at nearly the speed of light, passing right through this material as if it were made of air or something less. Those particles are passing through you, too, right now. You probably didn’t even know it, or if you did, you probably weren’t thinking about it. Either way, you can’t do a thing about it.

It's all part of the “quantum foam,” the fabric of the universe.

Quantum foam is the churn of energy at the level of 1,000 million trillion trillionth of centimeter (that’s a fraction with 33 zeros in it), when particle-antiparticle pairs incessantly appear and disappear seemingly at random. This quantum foam occurs everywhere in the universe, in this room and in deep space.

It’s been suggested that this quantum foam is the energy created by the expanding universe, the energy created by the stretching and ripping of the fabric of space and time as the universe grows in all directions.

It is from this energy that the something that is everything emerges.

It’s been said, though I don’t know quite how they come about making such estimates, that over ninety percent of the stuff that makes up the universe is not observable to us mere mortals. Stuff they call dark matter. They call it dark because we can’t see it, but the more we learn, the more the science tells us that there must be dark matter or else the galaxies would not be able to stay intact.

And there’s a lot of stuff out there that we know about. Moons, planets, stars, asteroids, quasars, pulsars, novas, supernovas, black holes. With the big telescopes in space, we’re discovering new bodies every day.

But in the beginning, there was nothing.

None of that. It was a nothing so pure and absolute, let’s call it absolute nothing.

I’ve heard people – people in bars, mostly, where topics like this do pop up from time to time, and at least once from a preacher in the pulpit ‑ express the idea that the Big Bang theory involves a compressed ball of matter, dense beyond imagining, that somehow exploded to form the universe. Like a firecracker. Only bigger. Hence, the Big Bang.

We know this because Edwin Hubble discovered in the 1920s that galaxies are all moving away from each other, meaning that we live in an expanding universe, which implies that if you run the clock backward, it all comes together. Hubble’s calculations verified Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, published 1920.

The idea of the giant ball originated soon after with Georges Lemaître, who worked through the equations and conceived of the universe starting with what he called the “primeval atom,” in which all the universe was crushed into a sphere only a few dozen times bigger than the Sun. This primeval atom then exploded into an incredible number of smaller pieces, which in turn kept splitting apart into ever smaller pieces until the atoms of the present universe formed.

But some of the current theories suggest otherwise. Stephen Hawking made popular the idea that if you hypothetically reverse time using formulas based on the known observable laws of the universe, the closer you get to the first moment of the universe, some 15 billion years ago, the closer you get to what he called the singularity.

It’s not just matter that is created from the singularity, but the entire fabric of the universe. Space and time and all the other dimensions were created from the singularity.

Here’s a concept relatively easy to get your mind around: An infinite line, one that has no beginning and no end, but stretches on forever, to infinity and beyond.

The three dimensions by which we measure space are curved, which means that a straight line in any direction will eventually meet up with itself 20 billion light years later – whatever the circumference of the universe may be ‑ and make a giant circle. There is no beginning and no end to this theoretical line. That is, if you could see into infinity and looked straight down this line in an unobstructed view for 20 billion light years, you would see the back of your own head. This is true no matter which direction you look. This was also a part of Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity: A finite, but unbounded universe because space is curved. So we can represent this straight line as a circle, even though it appears straight, to represent one of the three spatial dimensions.

And because we have observed that we live in an expanding universe, if we reverse that expansion in our imaginations, we have to imagine that 20 billion light year that imaginary circle getting smaller and smaller and smaller, 10 billion light years, five billion light years, one light year, one million miles, one mile, one half-mile and so on until it collapses upon itself, to zero diameter.

In the beginning, there was nothing.

The Big Bang Theory is actually misnamed. What scientists can surmise about the universe is only what happened after the actual bang.

Theorists have deduced the history of the universe back to one 10 million trillion trillion trillionth of a second – that’s point 43 zeros one – 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000000000001- after the Big Bang.

Therefore, within the framework of the laws of physics as we understand them today, we can say only that the universe came into existence when it already had an age of one Planck second.

The universe at that time was incredibly small about point-34 zeros-one centimeters (0.000000000000000000000000000000000016) known as a Planck length, the smallest possible unit of measure.

The temperature of the universe at this time was about 100 million trillion trillion – that’s 32 zeros – degrees.

That is, it was very hot and very very, almost infinitely, small.

At the singularity, that moment just before the Big Bang, within first Planck second and within the original Planck length, the laws of physics break down, and so before the first 10 million trillion trillion trillionth of second of the universe, there was apparently nothing. No space, no time, no atoms or molecules or microwaves or Buicks. No matter, no substance. Just that singularity. That infinitely small, undefinable point from which space and time erupted in all directions at once.

Back when everything was set to zero.

In the beginning there was nothing.

Just a single sudden, unexplainable eruption of energy, turning zero dimensions into the four that we observe and creating all the matter and energy of the universe.

There was nothing, then there was something.

Approximately three minutes after the Big Bang the temperature falls to a cool one billion degrees. Protons and neutrons combine to form the nuclei of heavier elements, a billion years later galaxies start to form and 14 more billion years later, here we are, body temperatures at a lukewarm 98.6 with a universal temperature 2.7 degrees above absolute zero (which is 460F below 0).

At least, that’s a simplification of a few theories that explain the mechanics of how the universe came to be, but it’s hard for me to get past that first one-10 million trillion trillion trillionth of second when something came out of nothing.

I can’t get nothing out of my head because I can’t imagine what nothing might be like. Because it’s not like anything.

Pure nothing is only theoretical. It only existed in the first one one-10 million trillion trillion trillionth of second.

If we can’t imagine the reality of nothing – which is oxymoronic because if there’s nothing, there’s no reality either – we can at least accept the concept of nothing.

And if we can conceptualize something springing forth out of nothing, then there is an implied will to make the springing forth happen. And if there is will, there is intention.

So imagine what force of imagination it took to be among nothing and conceive of something.

In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the earth.

Except for that first 10 million trillion trillion trillionth of second, which we can’t know about, I don't buy into the "God works in mysterious ways" stuff.

If it were the will of God to create all this, then we must have a very scientific God to have figured out, first of all, how to put all this in motion. There’s nothing about quantum physics that disputes the existence of a higher power.

Indeed, it seems to demand it.

God's ways only seem mysterious when we don't understand his science. I don’t really understand how television works, but I’ve been amazed at the clarity and fidelity of a 56-inch flat-screen digital monitor in Dolby SurroundSound. It’s almost like real life.

Imagine how amazed Moses would be if you could go back and show "The Ten Commandments" – that is, the Charleton Heston Hollywood Spectacular ‑ with the parting of the Red Sea on that 56-inch flat-screen digital monitor in Dolby SurroundSound.

Six thousand year ago, that might've seemed as holy as a burning bush.

A hundred years from now, maybe even 10 years from now, who knows, a 56-inch flat-screen digital monitor in Dolby SurroundSound will seem as archaic and quaint as a victrola or 8-track tape.

Does this mean that a 56-inch flat-screen digital monitor in Dolby SurroundSound is more god-like than the 19-inch Zenith that my family had when I was six years old? But it does show our godliness, that portion of us that we exhibit as creative beings, toying with the substance of the universe.

In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the earth.

In the beginning, God created something.

He created something from absolute nothing. He applied his energy to absolute nothing and came up with something that became me and you with the mind to think about something and try to fathom the divinely scientific order of the universe.

Thinking about this stuff makes me dizzy.

Our logical, mathematical minds would tell us that if we take away a half of something, we still have half of a something left. And if we take away half of that half, then we still have something that we can still take away half of.

But intuition would tell us that there must be some elemental, irreducible particle, the one thing that accounts for everything that exists in the universe, everything known and unknown. Some little grain of something, tiny beyond comprehension but powerful enough to combine with others of its kind to create the universe. That is, something to turn nothing into everything.

Many in the field believe that the discovery of that one elemental partical would solve all the mysteries of the universe because, you see, the commonly-accepted theories about quantum mechanics are at odds with the established theories of general relativity.

General relativity is a theory of the very large: galaxies, quasars, black holes, and even the Big Bang. It is based on bending the beautiful four-dimensional fabric of space and time, about how gravity and electromagnetism and other forces work to make galaxies spin and apples fall from the trees. This is the old-school science of Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein.

Quantum theory, by contrast, is a theory of the very small, the world of sub-atomic particles, based on discrete, tiny packets of energy called quanta. This is the science of Stephen Hawking and Brian Greene.

But the laws of one do not predict the laws of the other. General relativity is all very orderly and predictable. In quantum mechanics, particles tend to behave randomly and contradictory, being in two places at once sometimes, or two particles being in the same place at once.

The holy grail of physicists for the last several decades has been to develop a “theory of everything,” an all-encompassing notion that would combine all of these ideas into one, that would reconcile the seemingly random activities of the sub-atomic world with the wholly predictable dance of the planets and stars. And that, in turn, may provide a clue or maybe even an answer to the ultimate mystery: Where did we come from? Why are we here?

There's one theory of everything – several theories of everything, actually ‑ that breaks it down to a little dancing string.

It's called the “string theory” or “superstring” theory.” There’s a difference, but it’s pretty academic and for the most part, string and superstring can be used interchangeably.

According to the string theory, vibrating one-dimensional strings are the fundamental constituents of the universe.

Each string is unimaginably small, about point-34 zeros-one centimeters


known as a Planck length, 100 billion billion times smaller than a proton. These little dancing strings vibrate in patterns and resonate to create the smallest particles, the things we can observe, from the happy-go-lucky dancing quarks in my fingertips to the swirling galaxies of deep and distant space.

But still, because I live in three dimensions of space and one of time, because I have a matter-centric brain, my mind tells me that they’ve got to be made of something because you can’t get something out of nothing.

Or can you? What does it take to make something out of nothing?

There's nothing else that the superstring could possibly be made of but pure energy, the vibration of nothing – which then becomes something by the vibrating.

It’s a paradox. Zero times zero is zero, but at the Planck level of the universe if no where else, zero times zero equals something, an intense energy at infintismal levels that combines in vast enough quantities to form coffee cups and supernovas so that it appears to us to have substance.

Even at the level of molecules and atoms, there is so much relative distance between particles that you can visually compare it to the space between planets in our solar system.

That is, there’s enough distance between planets that, in terms of pure space and volume, you could fit many other planets into the same sea of space.

The closer we look at the substance of, say, my hands, the more porous it would seem, that there is enough space between the atoms that the molecules of one hand would simply pass through the molecules of the other.

So when my left hand meets my right hand, it’s not the density of the matter that makes them clap instead of merging into the same space, but the electromagnetic energy that binds the molecules of each hand together.

That is, gravity may make the man fall from a ten story building at a particular and measurable speed, but it’s the electromagnetic energy of the sidewalk that kills him.

Substance, then, is an illusion created by the forces of the universe: gravity and electromagnetic energy, both of which are made from the vibrations of tiny strings of pure energy.

I sometimes wish I had paid more attention in math class. I never got beyond Algebra II in high school, so the kind of formulaic thinking that it takes to pursue these things are far beyond my math skills.

But I see the poetry, the harmony, the balance in these theories and ideas about the origins of matter and how this stuff works in our universe.

So in my imagination, even though I’m having trouble visualizing absolute nothing – because there is, after all, nothing to visualize – I can see that within this idea of string theory and of what happened at the Big Bang, on the level of poetry if not on the level of mathematics, that everything in the universe is created from the vibration of the primordial nothing.

Remember the incomprehensible temperature at the first Planck second of the Big Bang? Simply the result of all this energy – all the stars and galaxies and everything in between – suddenly bursting forth and spreading out. One giant vibration. One masterful pluck of the cosmic guitar string.

Now, 15 billion years later, that energy has spread out and cooled enough to form different kinds of particles at different levels of vibration, creating a quantum foam in ever-more complicated patterns, harmony among the vibrating particles, to form protons and neutrons to form atoms to form molecules to form the moon, the earth, the sea and you and me, particles of pure energy coming together to form an awareness of self through our eyes.

The vibration of these vibrating subatomic strings creates the illusion of substance. So at our most primary level we are made from the pure vibration that is the fabric of the universe, the energy created by the expansion of space, vibration so intense and in such complicated patterns to be beyond our comprehension.

Well, at least behind our conscious comprehension.

These things happened before we were born, before our ancestors began to walk upright, before the earth cooled enough for DNA molecules to form. Before the earth and planets spun off from the ball of gas that is now our sun.

The point is that these things, the Big Bang, the expansion and cooling of the universe, the action of vibrating superstrings creating mass and substance, have occurred without us.

Yet here we are. Thinking about it. Trying to understand the purpose and driving force behind the universe and everything in it.

We are, in effect, the universe’s attempt to express itself.

About 25 years ago, I went to Key West for a long Thanksgiving weekend with a friend who grew up there. We drove all night from Tampa to get there, the last four hours on a bridge that went from tiny island to tiny island until you got to Key West. He was taking me on a tour of the cool places on the island, the places where the locals went to party. We were riding around in a convertible when the electricity went out on the island. We were, basically, out in the middle of the ocean, far from any city on a cool and clear night. I looked up in the sky. It never looked so big and I never felt smaller. There were so many stars in the sky that there seemed to be more points of light than spaces in between.

I realized at that moment what a grandiose notion to believe that all this has been created for our benefit, that this incredible universe was created just so that we could end up here at this moment discussing big issues like the meaning of life.

On the other hand, the fact remains that we do observe the universe. We measure it. We've named all the animals that we’ve found so far, and we can manipulate the fabric of space and time – albeit in relatively minute ways when compared to the power and changes in matter when a supernova explodes, for instance, or when a hurricane passes over the Florida peninsula.

Because these vibrations of the superstrings not only form substance and matter, but also create observable and measurable energy.

We have developed the capacity to use our senses, our sight, our hearing, etc., to absorb the vibrations of the universe and then to sort those vibrations out into metaphors, to turn the incredibly complicated series of vibrations into ideas.

If you go to a piano and pluck middle C, you are creating vibrations of 262 cycles per second on that string that we perceive with our ears. You dip a brush into violet paint and put it on a canvas, you are creating vibrations of light that we observe with our eyes.

That’s how we sort out the world. We look at something. We take in all these vibrations from all of our senses and see that it’s red in color, round in shape, firm to touch, smells earthy and tastes sweet. We know this from the particular arrangement of waves and patterns of waves created by vibrations, from the superstrings, particles and molecules that make up the object. We see that it’s red and it’s round and we dive into our memory banks, the record we’ve kept of all our experiences and we determine that this object is an apple.

Somehow we have developed the capacity to not only observe the universe, and manipulate matter and substance, but we also have the power to think abstractly, to use metaphor to explain our observations and manipulations.

To imagine that one thing is like another is the foundation not only of communication, but of intellect itself.

Somewhere along the way, we discovered that some ideas, some ways of seeing and hearing, for instance, are more pleasing than others.

Everyone recognizes this, or nearly everyone. Even the most unschooled ear can usually recognize when the musician hits a bad note, even though they may not understand the physics behind it.

And we can manipulate one object to look like another, to take observation to the next level: Of creation and expression.

I see a round, red object and not only do I determine that it’s an apple, and not only does it remind me that I’ve not had dinner yet, but I remember when I was growing up and the apple tree that was in my grandparent’s yard. And a slice of apple pie I ate last night at Hyde's Restaurant. So there are levels of thought and emotion associated with that round, red object.

So I feel some desire, a need to express those observations and I scoop up some earth, form it into an orb and use pigments to turn it red.

I have, in effect, replicated the process of creation. I have observed the vibrations of the universe – or at least one small part of it – and I have used the elements to re-create my observation, but in doing so, I have also impressed upon my created object the emotional footnotes that were attached by my own personal experience.

I have, in other words, created a work of art.

In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.

In the beginning, God created.

Now, I create.

Not everyone will appreciate the subtleties and nuance of my creation. They won’t understand the emotional subtext, the memories of my childhood that are expressed in my apple sculpture.

If it looks enough like an apple, some people will simply appreciate it for that. Others will look at it and the vibrations emitted by my apple sculpture will remind them of their childhood picking apples in a New England orchard, an experience wholly removed from mine, but has enough of the same pattern of energy to make a similar cognitive connection.

We can apply this relationship between observation and expression all across the spectrum – and I mean that literally – of experience.

Everything we know and experience we know and experience through the vibrations of the universe that are manifested through observable spectrums. That is, vibrations that we can see or hear, process and interpret.

That’s why music is such a powerful form of art, because it deals more fundamentally with the elaboration of the elemental particles of the universe, the vibrating strings. Music is all about vibration and patterns of vibration. When I play my guitar, I use my own kind of string theory.

Consider harmony. We consider music harmonious when there are several distinct tones at one time that sound pleasing together, that the set of vibrations is complementary. The harmonies can have different colors and tones, and different people will discern and appreciate harmonies differently. I’m a three-chord rock’n’roll guy, and I’m sure some of you have a more discerning palette when it comes to recognizing and appreciating harmony.

Notice, however, that we use words like harmony, tone, color, shape, and so on to describe visual art as well, the interaction of vibrations that we perceive through our eyes.

We also talk about harmony in the universe, harmony in our relationships. Aren’t the universe and our relationships also dependent upon patterns of vibration?

But there are vibrations that we can’t see or hear.

The vibrations of ultra-violet light. The vibration of dog whistles.

We can observe these vibrations with instruments, with spectrometers and terriers, even though we can’t experience them sensually.

Remember when I said that only 10 percent of the stuff that makes up the universe is observable to us mere mortals? Is it a coincidence that they say we only use 10 percent of our brain capacity?

It probably is a coincidence. But can you imagine how the world would appear to us if we were to use twenty percent of our brain? Fifty percent?

I want you to think about a radio for a minute.

What does a radio do except collect the unobservable vibrations of our universe and turn them into vibrations that we can observe. That is, a radio will transform very high frequency vibrations into relatively low frequency vibrations that our human ears can understand.

Maybe if we could use seventy percent of our brain capacity, we wouldn’t need radios? I can call music up in my head pretty much on demand. I may not remember all the words sometimes, but sometimes I can. I once knew the Beatles' White Album so well that I could lay awake in bed at night after my parents made me turn the stereo off and listen to it from beginning to end, seemingly recalling every grace not and harmony, from "Back in the U.S.S.R." to "Good Night," including the inscrutable "Revolution 9," even replaying the pops and crackles peculiar to my own vinyl.

Because isn’t that what our brains are like? We use our eyes and ears to collect the vibrations of the universe and our brains turn them into colors, shapes and sounds.

Likewise, our brains act as transmitters, turning electrical energy into ideas that we express through the metaphors of language and art.

I have a friend I call Willie. We met at a bar nine or ten years ago when they were having a regular Tuesday night jam session. We both had been playing with other people at these sessions, but had come that night alone. We were talking at the corner of the bar where the musicians hung out. We knew some of the same songs, it turned out, and played them in the same key, so we asked the hosts if we could go up and play a couple of tunes together.

It was as if we’d grown up playing together. Or played together in another lifetime. For whatever reason, we clicked as I’ve never clicked with any other musician. And it’s still that way. Sometimes, I can see his hand form an E minor chord on the fret board and know that he’s about to play “Down By the River.” Sometimes, I just look at him and know what song he’s going to play. Sometimes, we don’t even have to count it off, but just launch into a song.

There’s no accounting for it. I don’t understand it. He doesn’t understand it. But that doesn’t make it any less real. We both experience it.

Could it be that our brains are somehow working on a different level when we put those guitars in our hands?

That not only can we collect vibrations that stimulate our ears and eyes, but that we also collect vibrations created by and stimulating one another’s brain? That we are transmitting and receiving vibrations without any control over it? Without any awareness of the process.

Just as some people collect the vibrations of my apple sculpture and only see an apple while others collect the vibrations and turn them into personal memories, can our brains function at even higher levels, transmitting and receiving vibrations that we don’t understand simply because we haven’t developed the cognitive capacity to figure out how that works?

But just because it’s beyond our understanding, it doesn't mean it's magic or supernatural. It just means we don't understand the mechanics of it, the science behind it.

What if you could go back and give Christopher Columbus a global positioning system. He'd think it was a gift from God. Or the devil.

That logic works on a lot of levels. Because we live in a universe churning with energy, the patterns can be so complex that it works when we don’t know how. Things often seem to happen in serendipitous ways. Sometimes we call it the will of God because we feel there's an intention behind it.

Sometimes you don’t need caller ID to know who’s on the phone when it rings. I don’t know how many times that I’ll write an e-mail to someone, click the send button, and when the screen refreshes, there’s an e-mail from that person in my in-box. It happens two or three times a year. It could be coincidence.

I was talking to a guy a couple of weeks ago who said he recently started thinking about a guy he went to high school with, used to go hunting with, decided to look him up. He tracked him down in Florida and talked to him for the first time in 35 years. Two days later, he gets a call from Florida, the guy’s wife telling him that her husband dropped dead from a heart attack.

It could be a coincidence, but it feels otherwise, like there’s a pattern.

If we had enough data, knew what observations to make, we might be able to write a formula to explain it. How big a chalkboard do you think you would need to come up with that algorhythm?

People in a spiritual life have observed the power of prayer. Scientists have observed the power of prayer. We don't know how it works, but we know it does. Sometimes, anyway.

That doesn't mean there's not an orderly, predictable scientific way that prayer works. Science is observation, setting up controlled experiments, and we don't even know what we're looking for if we want to figure out how prayer works.

If we pray for things to happen and they don't, we say it's the will of God. If it does happen, we sometimes say it's the will of God ‑ if we're not giving credit to our own sweet intentions. But we accept a notion that prayer sometimes works so we throw them out there, hoping that God will hear and answer.

If you’ve been following my train of thought here, then you may already have fathomed what I think. Prayer is creating vibrations at the level of the divine. We have the idea that the receiver is operating with much more sophistication, so we speak in our own terms, then look for an answer in the patterns and energy cycles that we observe in the world around us.

So maybe we're still in the early stages of discovering how prayer works.

Some of you may be taking exception to the notion that what we believe to be divine is just super-advanced physics. But history has shown how dangerous it can be to embrace mystical or religious explanations simply for the lack of a scientific one.

I saw Arthur Miller’s play, “The Crucible” last week at the Playhouse in the Park. It takes place in 1692 Salem, when some young girls began to exhibit strange behavior, such as blasphemous screaming, convulsive seizures, trance-like states and mysterious spells. Their skin was cold and hypersensitive. In a wave of community hysteria, thirty-seven people died in the infamous witch trials that followed. Nineteen were hanged, one crushed by stones as he was interrogated for two days; seventeen died in prison. Evidence and studies now suggest that the strange illness that afflicted the young girls may have been caused by a fungus on the local grain, the same fungus that is processed into LSD.

In 1614, Father Tommaso Caccini denounced Galileo's opinions on the motion of the Earth around the sun, judging them dangerous and close to heresy. Galileo had to go to Rome to defend himself. Four years later, Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino, known as “the hammer of the heretics” ordered Galileo to neither advocate nor teach Copernican astronomy, because it was contrary to the Holy Scriptures. He spent some time in prison and the last nine years of his life under house arrest because the church would not accept that the universe did not move around the earth.

Sir Isaac Newton, born the same year that Galileo died, also suffered charges of mysticism.

Scientific advances have long run ahead of cultural acceptance. Our stubborn and superstitious nature has more than once slowed the march of civilization. And it goes on today. Stem cell research and human cloning are to some people moral issues, not scientific ones.

Still, these days, the advances seem to come much faster and it may not be long before we’ll have a better understanding of how nothing became something.

Or maybe the nature of something is simply beyond the comprehension of our ten-percent brains.

Another thing in common between our spiritual search and our scientific search is that we look for answers to how and why we got here, why we exist. I don’t know of any religion, ancient or otherwise, that doesn’t have some kind of theory of the origin of the universe. Some of them have to do with turtles or giant eggs, but they reflect the thinking of their time.

That’s why we need to keep adding holy texts into our cannon. Preserving tradition is no reason to embrace ignorance of scientific knowledge. It’s all one world, and whether you try to explain it through quantum mechanics, folk music or transcendental meditation, you’re looking at the same thing through different lenses.

Let me leave you with a bit of linguistic trivia.

Historical linguists are able to partially re-create dead languages that had never been written down by tracing back words that sprung from them. For instance, English is a class of language known as Germanic, which also includes German, Swedish, Icelandic, Danish and Yiddish. But because of the Norman Invasion of the 11th and a few other historical twists, much of English’s vocabularly comes from the Romance languages – French, Latin, Italian, Spanish.

All of these languages – plus Celtic, Iranian, Hindi, Sanskrit, Albanian and a host of others – are in the Indo-European family of languages, having evolved from a theoretical language called Proto-Indo-European. Language shifts and changes in fairly predictable ways through time, so by comparing modern languages, historical linguists can reconstruct parts of Proto-Indo-European.

There’s a interesting Proto-Indo-European word “arête.” It refers to “virtue” or “quality.”

It’s a very basic word that evolved through the years and through many different languages to mean very different things. We can hear echos of arête in “right,” for instance.

You can also here it echo in these words: Spirit. Arithmetic. Art.

Three things that don’t seem to have a lot in common at first blush, but this crazy universe of ours is built on relationships like that, it seems. Patterns of energy and vibration.

Through arithmetic, through science, through observation and experimentation, we try to come to a better understanding of the harmony of the physical world, to create better medicines and more efficient cars.

Through art, we try to harness the vibrational powers of the universe to make music and paintings that are not only visually appealing, but give us greater insight into the nature of the universe as we perceive it by our senses.

Through meditation and prayer, we go inward to contemplate the nature of God, self and spirit. We listen for guidance from that small, still voice, to come to an understanding of how harmony works in our creative endeavors, our personal relationships and our place in the grand cosmic pattern of vibration.

We are the eyes and ears of the universe, reporting back to the creator.

In the beginning, there was nothing. Then there was something.

That’s my theory, anyway.

Hamilton Round Table Club Essay

I'm not unfamiliar with voices in my head, and I can separate the real ones from the imaginary ones.
So even with Dick Cheney riding shotgun, I'm not dangerous,just ineffective.


You can see it, can't you? I'm not just imagining it. If you could feel it, and you're welcome to anytime if you want, it would feel like a frozen pea attached to my spine just under the skin. It started out bigger. When it was first discovered, it felt like a frozen grape attached to my spine just under my skin. Or so I've been told. The truth is that it's been strategerically* placed in a spot where I can't reach it no matter how I contort myself. At least Dick Cheney was clever enough to know that I would surely remove it if I could reach it, even though his attempts and mind manipulation have failed miserably.

I'm onto you, Dick Cheney.

You can't control my mind, you crazy Czar of Darkness.

At first I thought it was an Alien Implant. For all I know it could be an Alien Implant. It may very well be that Dick Cheney is in league not only with the Forces of Evil in the United States of America and the rest of the Planet Earth, but he could be in League with the Forces of Evil of the Entire Universe.

Or it may be that it's really an Alien Implant pretending to be a Dick Cheney Implant, but that doesn't ring true to me. I have no evidence, but I figure that if it's an Alien Implant, then it would be of an Intelligence far greater than that on the Planet Earth and would therefore know that to assume the voice of a Dick Cheney Implant would be counter-productive.

I mean, anyone who knows me would know that the first time the Dick Cheney Implant told me to run a redlight for the sanctity of the Republic or to tell the cashier how much I enjoyed her cleavage because it would be good for the economy, that I would tell the Dick Cheney Implant to Kiss My Progressive Ass. I'm not unfamiliar with voices in my head, and I can separate the real ones from the imaginary ones. So anything the Dick Cheney Implant tells me to do, I do the opposite. An Alien with an Intelligence far greater than our own would know that and would present itself to me as a, say, Salma Hayek Implant, or a Jodie Foster Implant. Or even a Teri Hatcher implant because, you know, I'm easy that way. Or it could have said that it was a Jack Bauer Implant and then I sure as hell would have done everything it said because Jack Bauer is a bad-ass and I don't want to be at the wrong end of his prodigious head-butt. Or spine-butt as the case may be.

I digress. It's hard to concentrate with Dick Cheney yelling into your spine, and he's really pissed that I'm going public with this. In fact, this is my third attempt to blog this because "somehow" my Internet Tubes are being clogged with dangerous materials like yellowcake uranium and germanchocolatecake plutonium and belgiumwaffle indigium, so every once in a while I have to turn my computer upside down and shake it really hard, and sometimes the words I've written get all jumbled up and I have to start over.

But I digress. I was saying that I know it really is a Bona Fide Dick Cheney Implant is because only Dick Cheney would have the ego to want to take the credit for being clever enough to get an implant on my spine without my knowing it. That's Dick Cheney for you. I'm not unfamiliar with voices in my head, and I can separate the real ones from the imaginary ones.

But you don't have to worry about me. He's tried the reverse psychology thing. He tried to get me to stand up in the middle of the Tuesday staff meeting and try and get everyone to sing along with "You Are My Sunshine" by telling me NOT to do it. So in that case, I did exactly what he said. So now everytime the Dick Cheney implant tells me to do something, I think to myself "What Would Walt Whitman Do?" and so I usually get too confused to do anything at all. So even with Dick Cheney riding shotgun, I'm not dangerous, just ineffective. And I was ineffective in just about everything I do before the Dick Cheney Implant, so nothing's really different except for the constant nagging and occasional screaming. I don't mind that so much, but when he turns on the Civil Defense Sirens, I get a headache and have to lay down for a while. And I did that a lot before the Dick Cheney Implant, too.

But I'm not here to complain, but just to share my story in case someone else out there has an implant that tries to manipulate his or her thought processes, for whom I offer this advice: "Ignore the Voices in Your Head." Chances are, they're up to no good. And if you do have an implant, please e-mail me at I'd love to hear your story.

But on the other hand, if you have voices yelling at you but no implant, you're just crazy and should leave me the hell alone.

* Irony.

Humor me What It Was Was Ballet

Cousin Skeeter had to come to the city because he had to go see the tax man in the revenue building downtown, so he asked me to ride along with him. Since his meeting was at eight o'clock in the morning, Skeeter wanted to drive down there the night before and he got us a room in one of them fancy hotels they have down there, one of them fancy high-rises where you can see seven counties out your window.

Well, when we was checking in, there was a real nice young lady behind the counter there, and she asked us what we was going to do while we were in the city. Well, we said, we was just going to check into our room and maybe watch some of that free cable TV, or maybe go down to the river and do a little fishing.

Well, she says to us, you gentlemen must go to Swan Lake.

That was music to our ears, it was, because we just thought we'd maybe drop our poles in the river down there, not really knowing if there was any fish worth catching in there or not. We never figured they'd have a lake in the city like that.

I have two tickets to Swan Lake right here, she said. You gentlemen can go as guests of the hotel.

Well, we was right tickled silly about that. With us needing tickets to get in, we figured it might be one of them stock lakes where they have all kinds of big catfish and bass and bluegill in them.

So Cousin Skeeter says to her, Do we need to bring our own bait? And that girl just laughed and laughed and said for us not to worry about it, that we was guests of the hotel and they even gave us some tickets so we could get ourselves a soda pop and everything.

So she give us our tickets and said that the Swan Lake was in the Metropolitan Center that was just a few blocks from the hotel and that we could walk from there.

So we walked over where she told us, looking for a park or something called the Metropolitan Center and we was plumb surprised to see that it wasn't only a pay lake, but it was inside this great big old building. Cousin Skeeter thought that was plain odd, he did, but I said We're in the city, now, Skeeter and just about anything can happen.

So we went inside, but it weren't a pay lake at all, but a big old theater, and I said to Skeeter, Well, maybe this is some kind of motion picture show called Swan Lake, not a fishing trip at all, but since we was there and the nice lady gave us complimentary tickets and all, well, it was just the polite thing to do, and we could still dip our poles in the river after if we was still in the mood for some fishing.

So this other real nice older lady shows us where to go and sit, and my goodness but it was the biggest theater I do believe I've ever seen and it was full of people all dressed up real nice. We felt a little out of place in our overalls, but everybody was so nice to us that after a while we never paid it anymore nevermind.

Then the lights went out like they'd blowed a fuse or something, but luckily somebody up in the back had this big old flashlight that he shined down on a big old hole in the ground in front of the stage and the people get all nice and quiet like. Then this feller comes up out of the hole in the ground and everybody starts a clapping. Skeeter says, What they heck they clapping for? Ain't nobody done nothing yet. I said, Well, maybe he's just a real popular fella around these parts.

Well. then this fella turns his back to us and starts waving his arms in the air and it turns out there was a band down there in the hole with him, there was, and it was a whole bunch of fiddles and bass fiddles with nary a mandolin nor a banjo neither one. No guitars neither, but it sounded like they had some harmonicas, just fiddles and harmonicas and this popular fella was waving his arms to help them know when it was their turn to play.

It was kind of odd, it was, but the music was real pretty, and then the curtains opened up on the stage and the stage was full of all these girls in long dresses. They was pretty girls, but they was awful skinny and Skeeter says, Well, it looks like they could use some gravy on their biscuits. They look about starved to death, they did, so we figured maybe they was just mighty poor, but they was happy, and they were dancing around the stage on their tippy-toes, twirling around in their skirts and jumping up and down in the air wiggling their toes. And theydown all took turns, some of them dancing by themselves and some of them doing the dotsy-do with two or three other girls, and this went on for a while and then all of a sudden a bunch of fellas come out on the stage to dance with them.

To tell you the truth, I don't rightly know what to say about these fellas in mixed company, 'cause they was wearing the most gawd-awfullest suits you ever seen, they was. They had on these short jackets that was all shiny and glittery, and that was okay, I guess, but Lord Have Mercy, it looked like they didn't have no britches on because they was so tight, and they was tight all the way up, and I'm telling you that none of them boys had any secrets at all, no sir. Their britches was so tight you could see everything they had, you could. Their britches was so tight that you could count their parts, you could, and Skeeter says, How can they jump around on stage like that with their britches riding up like that? They had no shame at all. They just started dancing with those skinny girls in their long skirts, throwing them up in the air and catching them, and jumping up and down wiggling their toes and all. And they all took turns then, dancing by themselves and showing off for the girls, then two of them dancing together, and that went on for a while.

Then this one fella comes out with the shiniest jacket and the tightest britches of all of them, and he starts jumping around the stage, just leaping around like he was a deer or something, he was, and you could tell that he was a prince or something. Then he danced with some of the girls and danced with some of the other fellas and that went on for a while, then he danced by hisself again and I guess he worked up a mighty thirst with all that dancing and they gave him this big gold cup to drink out of.

I'm guessing it wasn't no soda pop in that cup because all of a sudden this lady comes out on stage and I'm guessing that it was his mama and that he had some moonshine or hard cider in that gold cup because when she came on stage, he tried to hide it behind his back. But that wasn't fooling her. Mind they wasn't doing no talking, but they was using some kind of sign language to talk, but I couldn't make heads nor tails of it all at first, but they was pointing at their fingers and she gave him a bow and arrow, and I figured out that she wanted two things. One, she wanted him to stop dancing around with all these skinny girls and get hisself married. And two, he needed to take his tight britches out there in the woods and kill something for supper.

So next thing you know, the stage is full of all these skinny girls wearing these white skirts that was so short that they just stuck straight out all around them like they was riding in a doughnut or something. And their hair was all done up in white feathers. They all danced around on their tippy-toes again for a while, then they took turns dancing by themselves and in twos, threes and fours, and this goes on for a while, then Skeeter elbows me in the side and says, They must be the swans. I thought that made a lot of sense, but it turns out that the prince fella comes along with his bow and arrow and chases all the skinny swan girls around the stage until he catches one, but he don't kill her, no sir. He starts dancing with her and throwing her up in the air and catching her and all. I said, Skeeter, she can't be a swan because it looks to me like he's falling in love with her.

Skeeter says, Well, we're in the city now. Maybe it's ok for a fella to fall in love with a bird.

Well, it turns out to be a really sad story, and I don't think I'd be giving too much away to tell you that they both died in the end, but when we got back to the hotel, the pretty girl at the counter asked us how we liked Swan Lake, and we was polite and told her we liked it just fine, so she give us tickets for another show the next day, except this wasn't dancing but the opry.

But it wasn't the Grand Ol' Opry, I can tell you that, and I can't even begin to tell you what happened at that show.

I will tell you this, though, that when it comes down it, if I had to choose between one or t'other, I guess I'd rather sit still for skinny girls dancing than fat girls hollering.

Apologies to Andy Griffith

poetry The Waiting List


Found poetry by Richard O Jones

What are you waiting for?

Waiting for a lucky break?

Waiting for the right person to come along?

Waiting for a nice breeze?

Waiting for your ship to come in? for the water to get warm? for the starting gun?

Waiting for the warning buzzer? for the light to turn green? for the movie to start?

Waiting for your wedding night?

Waiting for Christmas? for your next birthday?

Waiting until you lose some weight? to finish the novel?

Waiting to get started?

Waiting for the line to go down?

Waiting on pins and needles? with bated breath?

Waiting for the roof to cave in? for the sky to fall? for hell to freeze over?

Waiting for the Messiah? for the second coming? for the calling? for a sign from God?

Waiting for a miracle?

Waiting for pigs to fly? for the cheese to melt? for the sauce to thicken? for the bottom to fall out? for the first snowfall?

Waiting to get a license? to get a new car? to save up the money for insurance?

Waiting for New Year's? for the next millennium?

Waiting until the time is right?

Waiting for the system to reboot? for the file to download? for the fire to die down? for the next commercial?

Waiting for the water to drain? for the end of the world? for the end of the song? for the pizza to get here?

Waiting for the check to clear, the check to bounce, the check to come in?

Waiting for the ice to melt? for the ground to warm up? for the spell to be broken?

Waiting until school starts? waiting for school to let out?

Waiting for a full moon? for daybreak?

Waiting for dark?

Waiting for the clock to strike twelve?

Waiting for the sun? for the weekend? for payday? for some time off? for the mailman?

Waiting the nomination? for a letter of recommendation? for the loan to go through? for the sky to clear? for a call from the clinic?

Waiting for the seas to calm? for the clothes to dry? for the fog to lift? for your legs to stop cramping? for the smell to go away?

Waiting until she done with her period?

Waiting for the kids to go to sleep? until she's in a better mood?

Waiting until you father gets home?

Waiting in the wings? by the window? by the door? on the curb? by the phone? in the check-out line?

Waiting in the waiting room?

Waiting until dinner's ready? for the rain to stop? for your food to digest?

Waiting for your bowels to move?

Waiting for your pitch? for the parade? for the jury to convene?

Waiting for the car to warm up? for the window to defrost?

Waiting until the bathroom's empty? until the coffee's ready? until you have the money? until you can save up for a down payment?

Waiting for the furnace to kick in? for the grass to grow? for the paint to dry?

Waiting for the signal?

Waiting for her to get dressed? to put her make-up on? to curl her hair?

Waiting for the swelling to go down?

Waiting for all the leaves to fall? for the flowers to bloom?

Waiting for your cue? for the lights to go down? for the music to start?

Waiting for a promotion? a big raise? your next vacation?

Waiting for your replacement to show up?

Waiting for the end of time? for the end of your shift? for the next appointment? for the phone to ring? for the other shoe to drop? for the credits to roll? for the gunshots? for the echo?

Waiting for the punchline?

Waiting for your mom to pick you up, for the candle to burn down, for the coals to get hot, for the fries to come up? for the ink to dry? for a clean shirt? for the pus to drain? for the hair to grow back? for a transplant? for the infection to clear? for the plaster to set? for the egg to hatch? for the water to break? for the doctor to get here? for the smoke to clear? for the crowd to thin out? for the traffic to move? to get a decent picture taken? for the electricity to come back on? for the pain to go away? for the itching to stop?

Waiting for the novocaine, for the aspirin, for the martini to kick in?

Waiting for the train? the plane? the moving van? the next bus out of here?

Waiting for a ride? for a table? for the next available operator?

Waiting for something to happen?

What are you waiting for?

What are you waiting for?

What are you waiting for.

Essay Will, We Hardly Knew Ye

Somewhere in the world, a book about William Shakespeare is published every day. The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC, the most comprehensive collection of material relating to his life and work, contains some 350,000 volumes.

His works have been studied with an almost religious zeal, every word turned upside down and dissected for nuance and context. Even the printing of his work has been so scrupulously investigated that scholars identify nine different typesetters on the First Folio based on the quirks in their spelling and working style, and some of them are known by name.

There are dozens of theater companies in the United States devoted exclusively or primarily to presenting his work, and hundreds of other productions are mounted each year.

But at the time of his death, William Shakespeare was not the shining star he is today. Other playwrights — Francis Beaumont, John Fletcher and Ben Jonson, for instance — received higher praise and more frequent performances. It took 100 years before a biography of Shakespeare would be published, by then all direct testimony of his life would be buried with those who knew him.

Because we live in an era where every movement of even minor celebrities is documented ad infinitum in talk shows, tabloid newspapers and even mainstream press, it seems surprising how little we actually know about the man who gave us "Hamlet," "Romeo & Juliet," "King Lear" and all the other marvelous plays.

We know that he was baptized, that he was married and had three children, that he was a published poet and an successful actor and playwright, that he bought property both in London and Stratford, and that he returned to Stratford in his 40s and died there at age 52. Once he was a witness in a court case, a dispute between a wigmaker and whose son-in-law took him to court for shirking on the dowry.

We have no written description of what he looked like from anyone who actually saw him, and the images we have of him are all suspect as to their accuracy.

There's one portrait in existence that may have been painted in his lifetime, but it's not a very good painting and there's no real evidence that it was Shakespeare at all. Although it's been authenticated to be from the period, there's not record of it having existed before 1747.

There are two other existing images created after his death and viewed by people who knew him, one being the famous engraving that was created for the publication of the First Folio seven years after his death, and a memorial bust at the Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, created at around the same time. The artist of the engraving was in his early 20s when he made it, and it's been suggested that he worked from a painting. The mason that created the Trinity bust may have known Shakespeare and created it in time for the Bard's widow and daughters to have seen it, but we don't know what they thought about it and that image has been painted over at least three times since a 1769 touch-up. All three have similar looks: A balding man with some facial hair wearing Elizabethan-era clothes, but otherwise the resemblance is not particularly remarkable.

We can be pretty sure that he read books because except for “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Loves Labors Lost” and “The Tempest,” his plays were adaptations of the work of others, but we don't know where he got the books or what he felt about them. Some of them weren't published in English in his lifetime, so it begs the question whether he knew Italian and Latin or if someone told him the stories or had private translations.

The only writing we have in his own hand is 14 words: His name six times and the words "by me" on his will. Each time he signed his name, it is spelled differently, and never in the spelling we now routinely use. Indeed, the records we have of Shakespeare and his family use more than a dozen different spellings:
















And we don't really know how it was pronounced. Some linguists say it may have been SHACK spere or SHACK spur.

We don’t know what religion he was, although it’s generally presumed that he was a Catholic in an era where it was very dangerous to be a Catholic.

We know that he acted in some of his own plays, as well as plays by Ben Jonson and others, but we don’t know what roles he took on. Tradition has it that he was the Ghost in Hamlet, but we don’t really know.

We currently attribute to William Shakespeare 38 plays — 16 comedies, 10 histories, 12 tragedies, categories laid out in the publication of the First Folio. Nine or ten of his plays are deemed "problem plays" because Shakespeare was daring enough to mix genres. Some plays it works better than others. "The Tempest," for instance, probably the last play he wrote by himself, was listed in the First Folio as a comedy, but its complicated story has inspired arguments for it to be put into a new category of Romance, separating five plays from the ranks of Comedy. But it's also a plot built on magic and sorcery, so it was in some ways a precursor to fantasy fiction like the Harry Potter books.

There's also at least two lost plays, "Love's Labours Won" and "Cardenio," and a dozen or so other plays attributed at least in part to Shakespeare but for which there is no proof.

So we don't really know how many he plays he actually wrote or in what order they were written — and as we'll talk about later on, some would say we don't really know that the man from Stratford-upon-Avon even wrote the plays attributed to him.

Even so, we're lucky that we have his plays. It's estimated that from the time Shakespeare was born until the Puritans shut down the theaters in 1642, some 3,000 different plays were produced in London, but 80 percent are known only by title. Fewer than 10 percent, some 230 texts, exist, including Shakespeare's 38.

There are differing opinions about how much biographical detail can be culled from his plays and poetry, though many have tried. Maybe he knew a lot of legal terms, but that doesn't mean he was a lawyer, no more than using metaphors of weather would make him a meteorologist. Bill Bryson said in a recent biography, "We can only know what came out of his work, never what went into it."

Most of what we do know about William Shakespeare and his immediate family comes from the writings of others and from about 100 official historical documents — baptismal records, title deeds, tax certificates, marriage bonds and a lot of court records.

The Elizabethan culture was almost as litigious as our own, so there were a lot of lawsuits bandied about — and there were a lot of rules to follow in regard to dress, manners and the upkeep of one's property. Because most of what we know about William Shakespeare and his ancestors comes from court documents, the portraits that we try to create of them may skew toward the less attractive parts of their lives. We know when a man gets fined for keeping his dung pile in the wrong place or for not wearing the proper kind of hat in church, but we can't tell from these kinds of records whether he was a kind to his children, if he had an interesting hobby or if he liked his job. But all we have to work with is what we've got, so let's take a look at what we can know.

The family name may go as far back as 1284 when William Saksere from Gloucestershire (pronounce GLOU stur) was hanged for theft, or 1385 when a William Shakespeare, the first written record of the name being spelled in what has become the conventional way, served on a coroner's jury in Balsall (pronounce BAL sul).

But were these men ancestors of our Bard?

We don't really know.

What we do know starts the Bard's story in 1530, one Richard Shakspere lived in the village of Snitterfield about four miles from Stratford. That was when he payed a two-pence fine for not appearing in court at Warwicke, some six miles away. What he did to be summoned to court, we don't know. From court records, however, we know that on other occasions he was fined for letting his pigs run wild, letting his animals overburden the public pastures and for not mending his hedges. But we also know that he owned a substantial amount of property and was charged with estimating the value of the estates of his deceased friends and neighbors, so he may also have been something of a trusted leading citizen of Snitterfield before his death in 1561.

Richard Shakspere had two or three sons. There's a Thomas Shakespeare on record paying rent in Snitterfield, but there's nothing to indicate any relationship. But it is pretty certain that Richard Shakespeare was the father of Henry and John.

Henry was a bit of a rake. He owned land, but was in frequent trouble with the law, to the point of having served several prison terms. Like his father, he showed a careless disregard for keeping his fences, hedges and ditches in good repair, but more seriously: He was excommunicated for refusing to pay his tithes to the church of England and drew blood in a fight with one Edward Cornwall, who will turn out to be William's maternal uncle. His jail sentences were for non-payment of his debts. He was also fined for wearing a hat to church instead of a cap, in defiance of the Statute of Caps. The Queen was very particular about what one wore to church and had enacted a complicated set of "Sumptuary Laws" to lay down who could wear what depending on your position in society. We don't know when Henry was born, but he was buried in Snitterfield on Dec. 29, 1596.

Henry's brother John Shakespeare, our Bard's father, was born in 1529, and was 28 years old in 1557 when it is presumed he married Mary Arden, the 17-year-old daughter of a local landowner and from a somewhat noble Catholic family that had been given their property by William the Conqueror.

John's wife Mary Arden, our Bard's mum, was the youngest of eight daughters. Her father died in 1556, leaving her a pretty sweet dowry that included property, and there was no mention of her being married in his will, composed just before he died, but she and John had their first child in 1558, so we presume they were married in 1557 or thereabouts, sometime between that death and that birth.

Mary's first two children died as infants, so William was essentially the oldest child when he was born 1564 — he was baptized on April 25, so it’s presumed that he was born on the 23rd, but we don't really know that for a fact.

It may have been nothing short of a miracle that he survived for the plague began a sweep through Stratford that year, and 20 deaths "hic incepit pestis" were recorded between Jan. 1 and July 11. By the end of the year, 240 deaths were recorded, one-seventh of Stratford's populations, including all four children of the Green family who lived right next door to the Shakespeares.

But some of Mary Arden's inheritance was an estate in Wilmcote, and the family may have sought refuge from the plague there, but again, we don't really know that for a fact.

From the records, we probably know more about John Shakespeare than the Bard, and what we know paints a portrait of a complicated man. He was a money-lender and illegal wool dealer with his share of unpaid debts. He also dealt in property, timber and barley, which was an important commodity because it was used in the making of ale, a staple of the Elizabethan diet, even among the Puritans. In fact, John Shakespeare served for a time as the local ale-taster, an important job because he set the price of ale. He is best known, however, as a glover, a man who worked with light leather making belts, purses and aprons, and probably ran a shop from his home.

Marrying into the heavily-propertied Arden family may have helped John Shakespeare's social standing as he began his career in public service in 1558 when he was appointed constable of Stratford.

A year after being appointed constable, he was promoted to Assessor, the man responsible for setting fines that weren't already established by the law, and in 1565 — a year after William was born — John Shakespeare was promoted to alderman.

In the same year, however, he was fined three pounds, seven pence as restitution for an old debt. An odd combination of events that today would seem almost scandalous, and maybe it was, but his star continued to rise.

In 1568 he held an elected office, mayor of Stratford, and served one term. He may have felt his fortunes rising, too, for in 1569 he applied for a coat of arms, which if bestowed would have sealed his standing as a country gentleman, but was declined.

After his term as mayor, John Shakespeare became chief alderman and justice of the peace, but then he seemed to fall on some hard times. From 1576 to 78, he was absent from council meetings and was excused from some taxes and levies, but was also brought to court for debts.

In 1578, he sold 70 acres of his wife's dowry, and the following year borrowed 40 pounds against the remainder. Perhaps not coincidentally, that year he was also fined 20 pounds from failure to appear in the Queen's Court and another 20 pounds for surety in a dispute with a Nottingham hatmaker. When that mortgage came due in 1580, he was unable to pay and never recovered the property.

There's not much in the records for John Shakespeare after that, although he lived until 1601 when he left his son, by then a successful theatre mogul and property owner himself, the largest house in Stratford.

And from the public records for the Bard's dad, we gather many of these variant spellings: Shakyspere, Shackspeare, Shakespeyr, but none of them from the hand of John Shakespeare himself. Whenever he was required to sign his name, he made a mark that looked like a compass, one of the tools of the glover's trade. Because those were the only marks he ever made, at least as far as we know now, some have surmised that he was illiterate. Likewise, there are no records of Mary Arden Shakespeare signing her name. Her mark was a horse. But we don't know for a fact that they were illiterate. Indeed it was fairly common at the time for people to leave some kind of ideographic mark rather than a signature.

We also don't know exactly what happened during William Shakespeare's childhood that shaped the mind of the greatest writer of the English language and perhaps of the whole history of literature.

But we know that in 1569, the Queen's Players performed in Stratford. Our Bard would have been 5 years old and his father the Mayor of Stratford. It would be easy to imagine a story, as many have, that by virtue of his father's position, the youngster may have had a front-row seat to whatever play or plays were performed during their stay, to watch the proceeds with wide-eyed wonder befitting an impressionable child, beginning his life-long interest in the performing arts.

In that day, before the rise of the commercial theater, troupes were often supported by noblemen. In modern terms, you might think of how corporations and foundations support professional theater companies, allowing them to exist without relying on ticket sales to sustain them. In this case, however, they would have had a duty to perform a certain amount of time in their patron's court, but would also tour the countryside to be hired by villages such as Stratford to put on shows there, their fees being recorded in the public books. So we also know that Leicester's Men (pronounced LYE-stur) — which included the Jame Burbage, one of the great actors of the day who will re-appear in the Bard's life — performed in Stratford in 1573, when Will was 9 years old, and Lord Strange's men performed there in 1579, when he was 15. In all, during Shakespeare's early years, 10 different troupes performed in Stratford.

But apart from his Christening in April, 1564, we have no other written record of William Shakepeare until 1582. On Nov. 27, a license was issued to marry William Shaxpere to one Anne Whately. A different document, a 40-pound marriage bond, is dated the following day, permitting the marriage between William Shagsper and Anne Hathaway to proceed without the normal bureaucratic delays. Probably because Anne Hathaway was three months pregnant.

The existence of Anne Whately is limited to just that one record, and so many academics and biographers have chalked it up to a clerical error, but things being what they are, the dearth of biographical details has inspired other to imagine a young man — an aspiring young actor having his career interrupted by a dramatic love triangle— torn between art and love and duty, of wanting to marry Anne Whately to avoid a hasty marriage because he is being forced to marry Anne Hathaway and give up his dream of a life in theater because she is pregnant with his child. And indeed, on May 26, 1583, almost exactly six months later, William and his wife christened their first daughter, Susanna. Two years later, William and Anne christened twins, Judith and Hamnet.

And that's all we know about William Shakespeare until 1592 when he turns up in London in the diary of a London wag, a pamphleteer who was a member of a group of theatre mavens known as "the University Wits," but we don't really know how he got to London, or why. Like Jesus, Shakespeare has his missing years.

But we can make guesses, some more educated than others.

Among the theories that have been put forth through the years, much of it surmised by people looking for clues in his plays, we find William Shakespeare being employed as a legal clerk or a scrivener in a lawyer's office, sailing the globe with Sir Francis Drake, traveling to Germany and Italy with the army, or working as a schoolmaster. Legend has him being exiled from Stratford for being a deer poacher. Some would have it that he got his start in theatre by tending to the horses of patrons as they arrived, essentially inventing valet parking.

There's no record of William Shakespeare ever attending a college or university — or even grammar school for that matter, although we might presume that he did, that he learned to read and write and developed some kind of passion for both. But we don't know.

There are some documents that may shed a little light, though they are ambiguous and careful historians try not to make too much of it, but it comes up almost every time because it's a good story that has the smell of truth if not the substance of fact.

But it seems that in August, 1581, Alexander Houghton, the wealthy master of Lea Hall in Lancashire, about 150 miles north of Stratford, was dying without male issue, as they say. He wrote wrote a will leaving his half-brother Thomas all of his musical instruments and his collection of "play clothes," or costumes "if he be minded to keep players," or if he didn't want to "keep players," to pass the items along to Sir Thomas Hesketh, who did keep a troupe of players in Rufford Old Hall, an estate often visited by the Earl of Derby's Players, which was in turn where the Queen's Men, the premiere group of the day, recruited actors. That is, Alexander Houghton, it seems, kept musical instruments and costumes, but we don't know that he kept a troupe players, so it's more likely that he kept the instruments and costumes so that his own family and servants could put on shows. And with his passing is leaving it up to his brother to either continue the practice, or to make sure the items get good use at Thomas Hesketh's Rufford Old Hall. At that point, he a plea for Hesketh "to be friendly unto ... Wiliam Shakeshafte" and to take him into his service. Later on in his will, Alexander Houghton also leaves 2 pounds to William Shakeshafte above the wages bequethed to other servants mentioned by name.

It's all rather ambiguous, no doubt. But it is possible to read this that this William Shakeshafte — a Northern variant on Shakespeare — came into Houghton's service somehow and made enough of an impression on him as an actor that he recommends him into the service of a known patron of the theater. If this is our Bard, he would have been 17 years old, a year before his marriage to Anne Hathaway.

There is some credibility to this concoction, another fact that adds to the smell of truth. Houghton's will also mentions John Cottom, who as it turns out was the schoolmaster in Stratford in 1579, right at the same time John Shakespeare was suffering financially and selling off his wife's inheritance. Had William Shakespeare attended the Stratford School at this time, he would have been 15 years old.

So it's tempting to connect the dots, that Cottom made an introduction for his star pupil to travel to Lancashire, about 150 miles to the north, the same distance as London, but the opposite direction, to serve as — what — a tutor perhaps to the children at Lea Hall, and perhaps as a part-time player, giving him a chance to work on his theatrical skills, imitating the troupes of players that passed through the Stratford of his youth. And then after Houghton's death and upon his recommendation, Shakespeare works his way up the ladder and is even perhaps on his way to London the following year when he makes a stop to his hometown, somewhere around August, 1582, only to have his career interrupted by an unexpected pregnancy.

It could have happened like that. It's a good story. But we don't really know.

Here's something else to add some drama to the story: We don't know when Anne Hathaway was born or baptised, but she died in 1623 and her tomb in Stratford's Holy Trinity Church says she was 67 years old. Barring an error, that would put her eight years older than our Bard, some 26 years old at the time of their nuptials. While 26 was a common age for men to marry — remember John Shakespeare was 28 — that was certainly approaching old-maidenhood for a woman by some accounts.

We also know that her father died the year before, leaving her a bequest of 10 pounds to be paid on her wedding, and leaving her to reside with his second wife and her three children. In other words, we have a stepmother situation here. So again, it's fertile ground for an overactive imagination: Anne Hathaway, fearing a lifetime of spinsterhood and caring for a family not really her own, seduces a young actor and forces him into marriage so that she can collect her inheritance. In other words, she married him for her own money. Even the official Stratford-upon-Avon website claims "He endured her until he could stand it no longer and fled to London to become an actor."

Sounds dramatic enough, but we don't know that's how it happened. It may well be that young Will was deeply in love with this older woman and would have married her anyway. He did stick around long enough to have another child — a set of twins, as it turns out. And even though he moved away to London and likely left her in Stratford, he did return a few times, some say as often as once a year. We know that when he first purchased property, it was in Stratford, and when he retired from the theatre, it was to Stratford.

But he did leave a wife and three children behind, so that's something to reckon with.

Here's something else we know: In 1587, when William Shakespeare was 23 years old, the Queen's Men made a return engagement to Stratford.

The Queen's Men was a troupe of players hand-picked by the Queen herself, and it was the big time for actors in that era. It cost 20 shillings for the town of Stratford to host them in June 1587, and in the troupe was Richard Tarleton, the leading comedic actor of the day.

But a few nights before they arrived in Stratford, a quarrel broke out among the players, and William Knell was stabbed in the throat and died. A coroner's investigation cleared the actor who did the stabbing, declaring it self-defense, so he remained with the troupe, but it was still a man short when it arrived in Stratford and found an eager replacement in one William Shakespeare, who fell in love with the stage as a child and just as he was beginning to prove himself as a performer found himself in a shotgun wedding, putting his aspirations on hold while he raised his sudden family. Perhaps some in the troupe already knew him from his days at Lea Hall when he worked for Houghton or Rufford Old Hall if he took Hesketh's patronage, if that William Shakeshafte was indeed our Bard.

It could have happened that way, but we don't know that it did.

There's also a persisting legend that he was run out of Stratford because he was poaching the deer of Sir Thomas Lucy, a story based on a ballad that was written down by an Greek scholar visiting Stratford around 1690.

But the next historical record of Shakespeare comes in London, five years later, so let's take a brief look at what the theater was like there at the time...

Until 1576, there were no commercial theaters in London. That's when James Burbage, an actor but not a particularly notable one, borrowed the money to build a playhouse which he called "The Theatre." Like Kleenex and Styrofoam in our era, the brand name eventually became the common name. Indeed, it was Shakespeare's own "Richard II" in 1596 that used "theatre" as a common noun.

The next year, the Curtain opened, so named not because of the stage accoutrement's — theaters didn't have curtains at the time — but because it was in a part of London known as "Curtain Close," some 200 yards south of Burbage's Theatre, which would become the home base for the Queen's Men.

The two establishments enjoyed what seems to be a heated but still friendly rivalry, often putting on fencing matches between the players. In 1587, the Rose had also opened, so if Shakespeare came to London sometime between then and 1592, when we know with some certainty that he was an established figure, he would have walked into a scene with three more or less thriving commercial theaters, although they resorted to all sorts of low entertainment to pay the bills.

Like animal baiting, setting dogs off on bears and the like. One theater is said to have put a chimpanzee on a horse's back and set a pack of mastiffs loose on them, the ape clinging for its life on the back of a bucking horse while the dogs bit at their legs and tried not to get hit by the horse's hooves. Sounds like a new series on the Fox network, doesn't it?

But they did plays, and a lot of them. Although a playwright's name on could be a box office draw, the plays belonged to the company and not the author. A theater in London needed to average 2,000 spectators a day, two hundred times a year. To keep people coming back, they would perform five different plays a week. A new play would get three performances, and if it were good enough, would be worked into a rotation so that it might get ten performances in a year. So there was a constant need for new material.

Around the time William Shakespeare left his wife and three children in Stratford to ply his skills as a performer with the Queen's Men, the London theater was dominated by Christopher "Kit" Marlow, who's "Tamburlane" was a continuing hit. The second tier was a group of Oxbridge graduates calling themselves "the University Wits," who churned out box office fodder that often included a lot of theater-scene in-jokes, ridiculing the competition.

One of those wits, George Peele, wrote a historical play "Edward I," which contains the lines "Shake thy speares in honor of his name," which may be the first reference to William Shakespeare in London. That was in 1589. In 1592, Philip Henslow, owner of the Rose, recorded in his diary a March performance of "Harey VI," which some scholars take as to be "Henry the VI, Part I," which may be the first recorded reference to a Shakespeare play. Whatever the play was, it was a big hit for the Rose and was performed 13 times in four months.

The first almost-for-sure mention of Shakespeare comes in 1592, in a Pamphlet written by Richard Greene, one of the University Wits. In a snarky satire on the London theater scene, he chides an actor who also writes plays, refers to him as "an upstart crow" and calls him "Shake-Scene," and makes reference to a line in "Henry VI, Part 3."

Greene was not a particularly well-regarded person, however, described as "a wastrel and a cad," and no one knows what Shakespeare did to make him so mad. Probably just threatened him with his talent. At any rate, Greene died shortly thereafter from either food poisoning from a pickled herring, or just from the cumulative effects of other indulgences, at the age of 31 or 32. His editor soon offered an apology, praising Shakespeare's "honesty and good character," a back-handed compliment at best.

The timing of these emerging references to our Bard is most unfortunate, however, because before the year was out, the playhouses would be closed on account of plague. BUT... In April the following year, 1593, William Shakespeare released his first published work, the 1,194-line narrative poem "Venus and Adonis," based on Ovid's "Metamorphosis." It was a great success and was reprinted 10 times during his lifetime. The next year, before the theaters re-opened, the follow-up "Rape of Lucrece," 1,855 lines, was published, but was not so popular.

It is in the dedications to these two books that Shakespeare speaks in his own voice, but they are so fawning over his patrons — "The love I dedicate to your Lordship is without end" etc. — that it's really difficult to glean anything useful about his life or personality, except that he was probably a pretty-good suck-up, a nice characteristic to have in an industry that even then was dominated by big egos and bigger aspirations.

When the playhouses re-open, it's a much different landscape. Marlow is dead at age 29, and that's a really good story for another time, having to do with Elizabethan-era homeland security and double-crossing spies, and Marlow may have been killed at the behest of the crown.

During the shut-down, actors were forced into going on the road again, but the rigors of playing the hinterlands may have proved too much, for they disbanded one by one, and by the time the playhouses re-open, there is only the Admiral's Men and a new group called the Lord Chamberlain's Men, led by Richard Burbage, son of James, and named for the head of the queen's household. The company also included John Heminges, the celebrated comic Will Kemp and our Bard, who would remain with the Lord Chamberlain's Men for the rest of his career.

Except for the one possible reference to "Harey VI", we don't know what plays of Shakespeare's had been performed before the plague, but his plays started being published after the playhouses re-opened, but not with his name and it is presumed without his permission, starting with “Titus Andronicus” in February, 1594. At least eight or nine plays were published anonymously, many of them now considered to be corrupt copies gleaned from notes taken by spies, an early form of media pirating, or from the memory of actors who had been in the play and may not have been very accurate with those parts he didn't play. It wasn't until the second editions of “Richard II” and Richard III” in 1598 that a published volume bore William Shakespeare's name. By the time of his death in 1616, 18 of his plays had been published, some of them several times. Some in improved, Bard-approved editions the second time around.

In 1596, his son Hamnet died. We don’t know how; some say plague but who knows where they get their information. And in May 1597, he bought a house in Stratford, known as New Place, dilapidated, but at a good price and the second biggest house in town. He later bought the house across the street and 107 acres of farmland north of town.

And in 1599, he applied for a family coat of arms on behalf of his father. This time, it was granted. At age 35, he was apparently not only a well-known writer, but also making a good living in the theater, probably due to his part-ownership of the company because playwrights didn’t earn much.

He was also found guilty in 1597 and 1598 of defaulting on tax payments, so the true state of his finances remain uncertain. Maybe he was just a tightwad, or maybe he was a conscientious objector to taxes.

Also in 1597, James Burbage died and it was up to his son Cuthbert to re-negotiate the lease on the Theatre the next year. For whatever reason, the landlord proved difficult, so the Lord Chamberlain’s Men and a dozen workmen disassembled the building on Dec. 28, 1598, and moved it across the frozen Thames and re-named it The Globe.

In 1603, Elizabeth died and James took the throne. One of his first acts as king was to award the Lord Chamberlain’s Men a royal patent making them the King’s Men. He used them often (187 times between his coronation and Shakespeare’s death) and paid them well — and allowed them to wear scarlet cloth provided by the Crown.

In 1608, Shakespeare’s mother and his brother Edmund both died, she in her 70s and he 27. That same year, the King’s Men opened the Blackfriar’s Theatre, the first fully indoor theater that held about 600 people but was more profitable than the Globe because they could charge a higher admission.

In 1609, Shakespeare’s sonnets were published by Thomas Thorpe. We don’t know anything about the circumstances. Thorpe owned neither a printing press nor a retail shop. We don’t know where he even got the sonnets or whether Shakespeare himself had anything to say about it.

We don’t know when they were written, to whom they were addressed or whether they are assembled in the correct order, but so much has been made from the content that they have been by far the largest source of biographical speculation about Shakespeare.

Sonnets 1 through 126 seem to be addressed to “a fair youth’ with whom the narrator is infatuated, and similarly numbers 127 to 154 are addressed to someone referred to as “the dark lady,” though the poems never actually call her that. There has been much speculation about who these two people are and what it means about Shakespeare's sexuality, but all these stories depend on the assumption that the "I" character in the sonnets is always the same and always Shakespeare himself, writing straight from his heart.

But I don't think that's a safe assumption. One of the reasons Shakespeare remains our greatest author is his remarkable ability to write in other voices. It's equally possible that he wrote theses sonnets on commission, assuming the voice of his patron and writing love poems to people he may not even know. So lacking any other material, culling biographical information even from these poems is, I would venture, entirely and wholly speculative. The truth is, we just don't know.

On March 25, 1616, one month before his death, William Shakespeare signed his will. He was apparently already a sick man, though except for the insinuations of a shaky signature, we don't know his symptoms, and on April 25, 1616 he was buried in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford, and so convention would have it to date his death at April 23, the same as his presumed date of birth, but we don't know either date for sure.

His will included bequests to his sister Joan and her children, his daughter Judith, his granddaughter Elizabeth, and the poor of Stratford-upon-Avon, as well as money for his fellow-actors Richard Burbage, John Heminge and Henry Condell to buy memorial rings. The remainder of his estate, including New Place, went to his daughter Susanna and her husband. His wife Anne, to whom he left only 'my second-best bed', outlived him by seven years. She was buried on August 8, 1623. Susanna died in 1649 at the age of 66. Judith, 1662, age 77.

The same year Shakespeare died, his rival playwright Ben Jonson published a folio of plays entitled "Workes." This was a time when plays were not taken seriously as literature, and so his handsome volume received some criticism for its elegance. But it may have served as an inspiration for two of Shakespeare's acting friends, John Heminges and Henry Condell, surely two of the greatest heroes of modern literature. They are the men who gave us Shakespeare.

The book is formally titled "Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories and Tragedies, but it's more commonly known as the First Folio. It was published seven years after Shakespeare's death and Jonson's folio, but it may have taken Heminges and Condell that long to prepare the manuscript. Not only did they introduce 18 new plays to print, but they purposefully set about correcting those volumes now known as the "bad quartos," those plays that were incomplete or inaccurate or just plain wrong somehow.

Remember this, perhaps Shakespeare's most famous soliloquy?

To be, or not to be: that is the question:

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;

No more; and by a sleep to say we end

The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks

That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause: there's the respect

That makes calamity of so long life.

Were it not for the First Folio and we had to rely on the First Quarto, a Bad Quarto, of "Hamlet,"

we'd have the prince saying:

To be, or not to be, I there's the point.

To die, to sleepe, is that all? I all.

No, to sleepe to dream, I mary there it goes,

For in that dream of death, when wee awake,

And borne before an everlasting judge

from whense no passenger ever returned.

Quite a bit of difference. Enough that were it not for Heminges and Cordell, William Shakespeare would likely not be the towering figure he is today. Whoever he is.

There are those who claim that Shakespeare isn't really Shakespeare. That is, the man from Stratford-upon-Avon is not the person who wrote "Hamlet," "Romeo & Juliet" and so on. That at best, he was an actor who lent his name to some otherwise anonymous author. That the son of a wool merchant and glover that never went to university could not possibly be the wit behind the greatest collection of writing in the English language.

The anti-Stratford movement, as it is collectively known, began with a nut job from Tallmadge, Ohio, Miss Delia Bacon. She was one of six children born to a poor minister in a long cabin in the Ohio frontier. He either died or went broke, but somehow the family ended up in New England and she lived there, mostly in Connecticut, for the rest of her life.

She published a novel at 20 and a play a few years later, and taught school for a while, but in 1852, she moved to England on her quest to prove that the works of William Shakespeare were actually written by Francis Bacon, Walter Raleigh and Edmund Spenser because there were subliminal political messages in the plays that they needed to be shielded from. Her goal, which she failed to accomplish, was to dig up Shakespeare's grave to uncover the documents that would prove he was a fraud.

It seems demented, and probably was. Delia had a few bad, even publicly humiliating, relationships, and eventually went insane and died thinking she was the Holy Ghost, but she won over some influential people, including Ralph Waldo Emerson in New England and Thomas Carlyle in the other England.

Nathaniel Hawthorne made the mistake of writing the introduction to her book before he read it, because it was dismissed out of hand by critics and scholars, but the Baconian theory took on something like a cult furor, with people finding all sorts of hidden codes and clues in Shakespeare's plays, using numerology and cryptography to prove that Francis Bacon was the true Bard.

Even Mark Twain and Henry James jumped onto the Baconian bandwagon, but the theory started to fall out of favor after its proponents started also giving him credit for the works of Marlowe, Kyd and Spenser as well as the King James Bible. Some believed him to be the bastard son of Queen Elizabeth.

Still, anti-Stratfordians continued to seek out the real author. Some say it was Kit Marlowe having faked his death but used his pal Will to help him keep a hand in theatre. Some say Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke. Or William Stanley, sixth Earl of Derby. Some 50 different people have been credited with being the brains behind Shakespeare, but there's not a shred of real evidence for any of it.

Presently, the most popular candidate among the anti-Stratfordians are the Oxfordians who believe that Edward de Vere, the 16th Earl of Oxford, was the real Shakespeare. But Edward de Vere died in 1604, before many of the Shakespeare plays had been written. Still, there are famous proponents of the Oxfordians, perhaps most notably Orson Welles and Royal Shakespeare Company mainstay Derek Jacobi.

But scant as the documentation is of William Shakespeare's life, there's even less — that is, no historical evidence at all — that even suggests someone other than the glove-maker's son from the country made such a profound impact on a culture, an impact not limited to the power of his plays and poetry, but on the language itself.

Shakespeare coined or made the first recorded use of 2,035 words, including antipathy, critical, frugal, dwindle, extract, horrid, vast, hereditary, excellent, eventful, barefaced, assassination, lonely, leap-frog, indistinguishable, well-read, zany and countless.

He had a way of coining phrases that made them memorable and have since become part of our everyday language: one fell swoop, vanish into thin air, bag and baggage, play fast and loose, in a pickle, budge an inch, the milk of human kindness, remembrance of things past, cold comfort, be cruel to be kind, with bated breath, pomp and circumstance, forgone conclusion.

Maybe it was because of this impact, on our language, our art and our culture, that we want to know more about William Shakespeare. And the lack of good information only adds hunger to that thirst for knowledge, and so people keep trying. Even now, people in London and Stratford continue to pore over public documents, looking for anything that looks remotely like Shakespeare, or Shakspere or Shagstaffe or whatever. Any bit of information that puts him in a particular time or place is treated like the discovery of a long lost tomb, but the truth is we may never know anything beyond the bare-bone facts of his life.

Even so, we have the poems and the plays, and we'll probably just have to be content with that.

And maybe that's enough.

Hamilton Roundtable Club Paper

Feb. 26, 2008


"Shakespeare" by Michael Wood. Basic Books, 2003.

"Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare," by Stephen Greenblatt, 2004.

"Shakespeare: The Biography" by Peter Ackroyd, 2005.

"William Shakespeare: The World As Stage" by Bill Bryson, 2007.

"In Search of Shakespeare," PBS Home Video, 2003.

"William Shakespeare: A Documentary Life" by Samuel Schoenbaum, 1975.

Scam Baiting My Benghazi Girlfriend

July 2013

In which our intrepid hero Richard October Jones returns home from a mission trip to find his one and only love has forsaken him and so commits suicide and turns his affairs over to the attorney Otis Klondike.

Link to Google Doc

Found Poetry Lord Of THe Rod

Lord of the Rod

Found Poetry by Richard O Jones

Are you still struggling to get it?

Huge tool to please your lassie

Make love like a pro tonight

Be happy with manpower candy

Girls like that thing

She will moan in passion

She will secretly dream of you

Whip out a huge pecker

More meat is what you need

Much longer than it used to be

A guy with a small pen!s is the most unattractive thing ever

A perfect Christmas gift for your woman would be your bigger dik!

Add some more male meat to your package!

Allow your stem elongate and get more mighty in 2008!

At present you have chance to enlarge your banana length

Be large even when flaccid

Become a real man increase your male instrument.

Can you satisfy any girl you wish?

Change your sexual life enlarge your male machine size

Your huge machine will drive her nuts

Don't envy well-hung guys! You can easily become one of them!

Don't let them laugh at your willy in 2008!

Don't let your average-sized dic'k spoil your romance!

Don't you know that girls yearn for big schlongs?

Enlarge your instrument

Enormous monster phallus is every woman's dream!

Experience absolutely new sensual delights!

Experience more masculine power in new year with your increased pen!s!

Gain a perfect penis size of 7-9inch and THICK...

Girls do not like you because your instrument is too small

Growth up to 4 inches in length is now real!

Guys with tiny pen!ses truly lack manhood!

Have you increased your machine?

Help your willy to satisfy your lady better!

If your warrior of love is too small, you may lose this war

Increase your copulation organ

Increase your dummy and you will be more popular among chicks

Increase your tool for her complete satisfaction!

Indulge yourself in the feeling of real masculinity in a year to come!

It's time you became proud of your willy!

It's time your dream about big dic'k came true!

Make her shiver with your girth

Make it longer and more powerful with our p!lls!

Make your babymaker bigger and stronger!

Make your pants a pyramid!

Make your trouser python huge and rock hard!

Massive Christmas discounts for more massive pen!ses!

Men with big penis have some kind of sexual sparkle

More size means more sensitivity and s'e_xual response!

No woman would refuse from getting laid by a full-size dic'k

Nothing impresses chicks like a big pecker

Obtain a huge schlong for a new year!

Only with bigger package will you realize your manhood better!

Proven effective on your main muscle

Santa will bring more length and strength to your willy!

She is craving to be penetrated by your big rod!

She will say "Too small" other guys, not you

Small male device is not a problem.

So long it made her gag!

Super-size can be really achieved now!

To be well-hung is now stylish

Turn your small knob into a huge meat stick!

Turn your trouser mouse into a monster schlong

Turn your weewee into real monster!

Upgrade it to a huge volume

Why be an average guy any longer

With your new big rod you will easily spend 365 hot nights in a new year!

Women prefer big penis for more sexual satisfaction and it is normal

You deserve to not be ignored by women!

You deserve to be a giant

You will never regret this

You won't need to furtively put socks into your trunks anymore!

Your bigger dik will be your best friend now!

Your girlfriend leaved you alone because of your cock size.

Your s'e_xual life will sparkle with brighter colors!

Your s'e_xual stamina depends on your pen!le size

The secret to popping cherries is out now

Her hole has never been worked so much

Girls will be queuing up to stroke your shaft

Get armed with huge love cannon

Take out your secret weapon

Your partner will love you more now

So large that I hurt her

Assembled from Spam Email Subject Lines

April 12, 2008