Back in the day, when my NPR team was trying to come up with a name for what would become a fairly influential pop-culture blog, I offered up what I thought was a winner.
It had everything, I argued: the promising suggestion of a wide-ranging conversation, an acknowledgment that the monoculture has long since fragmented into a billion noisy, colorful eruptions of creativity with which we can’t possibly keep up, even a highbrow (OK highish) Shakespearean hat-tip to signal that we would be no average pop-culture blog.
I was roundly mocked.
We eventually came up with Monkey See, which means precisely nothing despite Linda’s valiant effort to link it to an entirely sensible position on what monkeys eat. And you know what? A name that holds no real meaning, in the jumbled landscape of the intertubes, turned out to be just fine.
But I never lost faith in my original proposal, or in my buddy Hamlet. (We get each other, Hamlet and I. Too smart for our own good sometimes. Prone to gloom, to say nothing of overthinking things to the point of paralysis. Can be charming when we’re on our games, though.)
Wait, Hamlet? Yes: It’s Hamlet whose agitated Act 1 response to the ghost’s cry of “Remember me!” is what inspired the blog name I thought was so good:
Ay, thou poor ghost, whiles memory holds a seat
In this distracted globe.
Hamlet is making his father’s perturbed spirit a promise: As long as I can remember things, given the maelstrom in my brain, I swear never to forget you.
Shakespeare has taught me many of the things a guy’s dad (and mom, too) are supposed to teach him, and I’m as passionate about his legacy as about anything else. And though my life has certainly been something of a maelstrom at times, I’ve never been far from the touchstone lessons I’ve learned from him and from the other titans of the theater, whether ancient, classical, or modern.
So I give you This Distracted Globe, a journal of theater, travel, things memorable and things ephemeral — and whatever else decides to take up residence between my ears. Welcome.