Thursday, July 1, 2010

Magpie #21

"Marco's Back!"
“Manny, I can’t tell you how happy I am to see you again.”
“And am I glad to see you! You’ve been gone so long I thought you went somewhere and fell in. What took so long?”
“Well, the roads were in awful shape. And of course I stayed there quite a while; I wanted to see everything I could.”
“Meanwhile, back here, like the good agent I am, I’ve been working my tail off for you, lining up interviewers, book publishers – the whole nine yards. Everyone wants to know about your trip.”
“Wonderful. I have a lot to tell. Most people seem to have some funny ideas about China. I can straighten them out.”
“Terrific. What’s the most important thing you learned, the thing you’d emphasize in an interview?”

“Well, most people in our country think of China as that place ‘way around on the other side of the world, a backward land of poverty and ignorance where there are many citizens who don’t even speak Italian. I was surprised to learn that in lots of things the Chinese are very advanced. They have this ancient culture, yet technically they’re a century or so ahead of us.”
“I see. That’s great. But you know, maybe that’s not the point you should start out with. Our folks don’t usually want to hear that there are other places better than ours. What have you got in that package?”

“Oh, something I brought back with me; I thought everyone would find this of interest.”
“It isn’t – uh – you know, sex toys, or anything like that? The Vatican really comes down hard on that stuff.”
“No, no. These are called firecrackers, a good example of something the Chinese invented.”
“I’ll bet they’re delicious.”
“No, you don’t eat them. The Chinese believe they fend off evil spirits so they use them at births, deaths and birthdays, as well as during the New Year celebration.”
“Use them? How?”
“Well, you set fire to them and they explode.”
“They – explode, you said?”
“Right. They’ve got what they call gunpowder in them and off they go with a big bang. When you’ve got a lot of them going off, the racket is tremendous.”
“And that’s it? They just make a racket?”
“Yes, but that racket is part of the celebration.”
“H’mm. Marco, you’ve really got me thinking. Suppose we were to put a lot of that stuff, what you call gunpowder, not just in little packages, but in huge packages. I bet you could blow up a building.”
“Well, actually, I was sort of hoping this would be used just for peaceful purposes.”
“Sure, sure. But there’s not much money in just making a racket. Think of the potential! We should be able to use this gunpowder in rockets, cannons, guns – it will mean a whole new era in warfare. You’ve done a great thing, Marco!”
“I guess so. Though I was thinking more of peace…”

36 comments:

Helen said...

... and that is how it all began? A good read as I've come to expect from you!

Lisa said...

what juxtaposition...the casual conversation of modern times with a prolific man and an important discovery/voyage from centuries ago. However, I think he had more interviews with the Vatcian than he ever did with the public! ;-)

Derrick said...

Well, you got me, Berowne! Who knew they spoke like that back then? Marco was just another Italian .... until!

Robert Lloyd said...

What a neat story. "You’ve been gone so long I thought you went somewhere and fell in" Made me chuckle but the story as a whole captured many emotions. It is sad to see how quickly a profit is considered instead of just enjoying something. His thoughts of peace went up in smoke. Pun intended. Thank you for sharing.

Queenmothermamaw said...

Well that sure took us back. I love the way you write. So entertaining and tongue-in-cheek this time. LOL Great job as usual.
QMM

Brigid said...

Lovely piece, witty and entertaining but scary when you think how products evolve.
Really enjoyed this magpie.

Berowne said...

I believe you're new to my blog, Brigid. Welcome...

Berowne said...

QMM: "I love the way you write."
And I love the way you comment. :-)

Berowne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Berowne said...

Helen: "A good read as I've come to expect from you!"
And a friendly response, as I've come to expect from you.

Berowne said...

Derrick: "Well, you got me, Berowne! Who knew they spoke like that back then?"
Let me tell you, it was hard to capture that exact Italian dialect! :-)

Stafford Ray said...

Hey Berowne, who needs history books! Wunnerful!

nana_ang_poppaphil said...

Excellent, I always look forward to your Magpies. You never disappoint

Patience said...

Poor Marco, i guess things did get a little out of hand with that gun powder stuff. Did he really introduce it to the west? Very cool story and a great Magpie, really loved reading it.

willow said...

I love these clever little conversations, Mr. B! The sex toy thing made me giggle.

Berowne said...

willow: "I love these clever little conversations, Mr. B!"
Great words from the Magpie's fondatrice. Thanks so much.

Paul C said...

The Chinese are a century ahead of us...explosives for play not war. Like that.

Sandra said...

Great magpie as alays! Loved it!

soundoffreedom said...

wow..interesting conversation and my how far that little idea exploded..nice magpie!

signed...bkm said...

The Chinese have incredible wisdom and knowledge...(not to forget ..food), wonderful Magpie Berowne...bkm

Peg said...

Nice Magpie

Greyscale Territory said...

In some ways, this reminds me of another story. Blimps originally were invented for peaceful purposes - but then there was war and Hitler and possibilities to spy on London! A very interesting narrative!

kathew said...

so that's how it all began? Great yarn-I always enjoy your stories!

ninotaziz said...

History, personalities and wit come together so effortlessly (it seems) in this delightful conversation from the past.

And who's to say it didn't happen just like that?

Berowne said...

My thanks to Paul C, Sandra, soundoffreedom, bkm, Peg, Greyscale Territory, kathew and ninotaziz for their encouraging comments.

Carrie Burtt said...

Your stories are always easy and fun to read. That is what makes you a true writer. Great Magpie as always! :-)

Linda said...

Great story. So is this fact or fiction? Either way a great read.

C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson said...

What a wonderful take on this historic event. Loved it! Everything flowed so well and you had me hooked from the start. Great Magpie!

Berowne said...

The comments of Carrie Burtt, Linda and C Hummel Kornell have done a lot to make this a memorable Fourth-of-July holiday for me -- thanks.

christine said...

As usual a great take on the Magpie pic.
So interesting to read.

Christine

Tumblewords: said...

Well done! Where would we have been without gunpowder?

Madame DeFarge said...

Love it. But he could have brought back some really useful stuff. Like chopsticks.

Berowne said...

Mme DeF: "But he could have brought back some really useful stuff. Like chopsticks."
Or fortune cookies. :-)

Catalyst said...

Oh! Great piece, Berowne

PattiKen said...

Oh, fun! It took me a minute before I realized who "Marco" was. Good one.

RA said...

Wonderful writing!

 
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