Knowledge of Shakespeare about as solid as a beach


March 30, 1992|By ROGER SIMON

Letters, calls and the roar of the crowd:

Alexander Armstrong, Ruxton: Curious that Edna Millay, a popular poet of the '20s, should have written ad copy for today's Ocean City hotels:

Safe upon the solid rock

The ugly houses stand.

Come and see my shining palace

Built upon the sand.

COMMENT: Edna sounds pretty bright. In fact, I think I once saw her playing Whack-A-Mole on the boardwalk.

* Richard W. Smith, Timonium: I worked for 20 years in publitelevision and nobody there had read Shakespeare either. I think it goes back to the '60s when college students gained control of the curriculum and decided that only what had happened in the last 60 days was relevant to education.

Modern college graduates don't know any history either. They were taught sociology, which turns out to be nothing more than slowed-down journalism.

COMMENT: It is no longer necessary to study Shakespeare or history. Everything you need to know will be on Bill Moyers eventually.

* Karl Pfrommer, Rodgers Forge: My father was C. F. Pfrommer, the chief of the Army Corps of Engineers in this district for 35 years.

He spent his career resisting such building at Ocean City. He thought it was a waste. He was a hydraulics expert and he knew that dredging and creating sandbars would only exacerbate the problem.

COMMENT: Sorry, too late, case closed. The state does not want to listen to any dissent about Ocean City barrier building. It doesn't want an outside inspector to see if the money was well-spent or an outside engineer to check on construction, as one expert suggested.

Instead, the state wants to dump more money in the water, whether it does any good or not. Last week, another $12.2 million was approved to "repair" the damage caused earlier this year by winter storms.

What happens when new storms destroy the new work? Easy! More money will be dumped into the sea.

Where will we get the money? Same place as always: taxes.

So enjoy yourself this summer. You're certainly paying for it.

* Mike Miller, Baltimore: Your column on chickens suckedChickens are very, very stupid.

I hope that you write more good columns than dull ones.

COMMENT: Gee, talk about impossible standards.

* B. Youngdahl, Summit, N.J.: I have learned this: "To thine owself be true and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."

COMMENT: But haven't you ever wondered why Shakespeare has that nice little sentiment spoken by a fool? Could it be that the Bard is pulling our leg a little? And making fun of statements that are seemingly profound but are really fatuous?

Do a 1,000-word essay on this and have it on my desk tomorrow morning. (Extra Credit: Five examples of foreshadowing in "Silas Marner.")

* Norma E. Griner, Baltimore: Why this movie "JFK" arouses so much acrimony is beyond my comprehension. That it stimulates discussion is good and praiseworthy. If there is still so much doubt concerning the assassination of a president, and if there is information that has been withheld from the American people, this movie can serve as a catalyst for action, and, hopefully, resolution of that doubt.

COMMENT: Not a chance. The doubts about the Kennedy assassination will never be resolved because there are about a zillion assassination buffs out there each pushing his own pet theory: One gun, two guns, grassy knoll, alien space pods, you name it.

And no matter what "resolution" you expect, one group of buffs will always claim the cover-up continues.

As to whether anything that "stimulates discussion is good and praiseworthy", do you mean if I made a film portraying Hitler as a great guy, who loved doggies and just got a lot of bad PR, that would be a good and praiseworthy because it stimulated a lot of discussion?

4 History used to have something to do with truth.

Now it has something to do with ticket sales.

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