Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Weekly Update: 9-8-15 Tragedies, Shakespearian and Otherwise

This week might have been a tragedy.

Hermoine, my aunt's the Sheltie/ German Shepherd mix, had been hobbling and limping the previous week, looking as pitiful as could be. They took her to the vet, and the vet said that her disks were fusing together and pinching a nerve. My aunt and uncle spoke of putting her down by the end of the week.

Even though Hermoine isn't technically my dog, I'd lived with my aunt and uncle for roughly four years, during which time I'd formed a strong bond with the dog. I had petted Hermoine and brushed her long fur and walked her and used her as an eager garbage disposal for my leftovers. The thought of losing her cast a depressing pall over my week.

Fortunately, as we steadily administered medicine, we saw Hermoine become more energetic. Her slight limp didn't stop her from jogging up to us at the slightest sound of food. My aunt and uncle decided that, even though her medical problems hadn't gone away, she didn't seem to be in too much pain. So, for now at least, the decision to put her down has been delayed. For how long, I don't yet know, but I'm much relieved.

There's still life in this old dog yet.

* * *

"I hate Shakespeare," said twelve year old me, who had never even attempted to read it. "All those fancy, pretentious words. And what's with Romeo and Juliet falling in love and killing themselves over it? That's the worst play. Maybe MacBeth might be interesting, but Romeo and Juliet? Yuck."

Ah, irony.

It gets you in the end.

This Sunday, I went to see Romeo and Juliet in Griffith Park--of my own free will. Actually, that's too mild a phrase. I canvassed to see it. I dragged my parents to see it.  And I enjoyed it. Mushy stuff and all. The production was really well done. The actor playing Mercutio wrung humor out of the famously long-winded "Queen Mab" speech, and the actress playing Juliet captured the vulnerability of a young girl.

I've begun to appreciate Shakespeare in my old age. I don't think Shakespeare was pretentious--I think that five centuries of changing language makes his stuff difficult to read. But if you can get past that, the man knew how to write. Love, sex, violence, drama, humor, poetry--he could do it all. It's funny how reading his plays can still shock me--me, a jaded Millenial from the Internet age. 

Take King Lear, for instance, which I read for the first time in August. In one scene, an old man's eyes are gouged out. On stage. My mouth hung open. For some reason, we expect our classics to be clean and civilized. But read any Shakespeare tragedy, and blood will sput like an anime sword cut.

Was Shakespeare the anime of it's time?
Shakespeare is a great thing when I want to feel smart, but I don't want to be bored or expend that much effort at reading.  So far, I've read Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, MacBeth, The Taming of the Shrew, Othello, A Midsummer's Night Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, King Richard III, The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, As You Like It, The Tempest, and King Lear. (I've also seen The Merry Wives of Windsor and Twelfth Night.)  This looks good and impressive, but it's not even half of what he wrote. 

Should I attempt to read all Shakespeare's work?


I still need to finish Jane Austen and Agatha Christie. But it does seem like a fun goal. Let's see, if I read three plays a year, I'll get through all of them in, hm, seven years or so? Wow. That's a lot of work. Guess I'd better get reading.


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