And then the justice
In fair round belly, with good capon lin'd,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws, and modern instances,
And so he plays his part.
Again with the beards. So, after they finished their tour in the army, they all became judges? Elizabethan England must have been in dire need of blacksmiths. First off, in our time, tours of duty dont necessarily end. Secondly, when you get out, your career path is far from assured.
Of the top twenty lines of work sought by veterans, seven are in the realm of corrections officer aka cop, guard, jailer et al, and most of the rest involve repairing or maintaining the same type of computer equipment they repaired or maintained while in the military. They also face a 15 percent unemployment rate, according to the Department of Labor, significantly higher than the average citizen.
So not all of them are fortunate enough to line their bellies with good capona roasted rooster that was castrated at a young age. And most of the wise saws they dispense to the public involve puckered war wounds that, frankly, I just don't want to see.
Nowadays, people prefer to get their war wisdom from Clint Eastwood movies and their modern instances from a combination of Stephen Colbert and references in webcomics. Hey, who are you to judge? You pood in a pot.
And then the IT specialist
In studio apartment, with IKEA bureaus lind
Or else unemployed, with beard of tangled matte,
Full of conspiracy theories, and weird smells,
And so he frightens children.
The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side,
His youthful hose well sav'd, a world too wide,
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again towards childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound.
Lets get this straight: so after all these judges retire, they hang out in slippers, frilled capri pants, and their old tights. Then their voices pull a Thom Yorke, and just sort of stay up there in the falsetto. What youre describing, dear Will, is a transvestite. And while we certainly have them, theyre no longer an integral phase of the human life cycle.
In fact, our retired folks dont much cotton to transvestites. And rather than the relative sizes of the world too wide and their shrunk shanks, their dominant concerns (according to the AARP) are Social Security and how goddamned many of them there seem to be. The number of people over age 65 is predicted to increase by seventy percent by 2020, and sixty percent of those are going to need long term medical care.
If 1970s science fiction movies are to be believed, this trend will culminate in a whole lot of pipes and whistles crying out for mercy while the Mandatory Euthanasia Robots patrol the halls of their Compressed Retirement Dormitory. Of course, thats unlikely to happen as long as the elderly turn out to vote a whopping 73 percent of the time, far more than any other age group. Come 2050, the young and middle aged may just find dentures digging into their shoulders, walkers driving down into their temples, and youthful hose well wrappd around their windpipes.
The sixth age shifts
Into the carelessly open robe and flopping dingus,
With family visiting, and eyes averted,
His Wal-Mart greeter pay well savd, a prescription plan too complex,
For his dwindling accounts, and his big manly votes,
Turning again towards the important issues:
Medicare and the gays.
Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
Youd think death would stay pretty static over the years. But youd be wrong, Mr. Shakespeare, and a damnable imbecile on top of it. It's almost like, realizing that the rest of your poem was rose-colored hogwash, you overcorrected by ending on a goths description of the afterlife. Hint: depressing doesnt equal art, which is a lesson you could have applied to that sob-fest
Despite your negative attitude, the modern age has presented us with numerous opportunities to turn death into a bizarre spectacle, and weve taken every one of them. Weve turned our dead loved ones into diamonds. Weve had marching bands play us out and served chocolate covered marshmallows at the funeral. Weve had our ashes mixed into comic books and stored in Pringles cans and our skin turned into drum sets. Weve been snorted by our sons. Weve even stuffed ourselves into a cannon shaped like a fist holding a peyote button and had our ashes shot into the sky with fireworks while Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" played.
And if certain reputable news outlets are to be believed, were going to be able to download our brains onto a computer by 2050, rendering the whole point moot. Sans everything, Mr. Shakespeare? How about sans your downer bullshit? Bring on the Age of Digital Immortality!
Last scene of all,
Before he joins his friends in a non-stop virtual party,
Is a personalized rocket to oblivion,
With boats, and costumes, and quiche, and everything.
When not writing for Cracked, Michael is apostrophizing dead literary figures as head writer and co-founder of Those Aren't Muskets!