Sunday, July 28, 2013

179 Quiz Answer

Here's this week's quiz answer.
John Keats was one of the greatest of the English poets.  He died in 1821 at the incredible age of twenty-five.
(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "C" is for "Charlie.")
For centuries, innkeepers knew that the inn they operated had to have a stable.

When folks showed up to stay the night they usually arrived by equine power so the innkeeper had to have a place to park the equines.  The stable, in short, was an important part of any inn.

I mention stables because they played a large part in the life story of the chap I wanted to write about this week.  I’ll call him Li’l Charlie, because that certainly wasn’t his name.

Charlie was born, and pretty well raised, in a stable.  His father was, in other words, a hostler.  I believe our cousins across the pond say ostler, but it’s the same word: it’s the guy who took care of horses when they showed up at an inn.

When the boy was old enough he became a “stable lad,” a job that most kids of that day regarded as the work of a jackass because you spent most of your time shoveling manure, a type of work that gets old fast.

By now you’ve probably grasped the point: Li’l Charlie started out on one of the lowest rungs of life’s ladder.

However, someone spotted something special in the young chap – he seemed to be gifted in his words and in his poetic use of the English language – so they volunteered to put up the money for his education.  At the age of fifteen the fortunate youth got to study – pharmacy!

He became a licensed apothecary.

For a nascent poetic genius that may have been better than shoveling equine droppings but probably not by much.

Anyway, he continued with his splendid poetry and did pretty well with it.  He learned that beauty is truth, truth beauty, and some say he got to be better at it than anyone since Shakespeare.  It led to a rupture in his way of life.

I guess you could say no less than that he became one of the few established poets who, if things turned sour in the poetry game, could always open a drug store.

So - what was Li’l Charlie’s real name?

(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings.)    

Sunday, July 21, 2013

178 Quiz Answer

This week’s quiz answer.
Eeyore is a character in the Winnie-the-Pooh books by A. A. Milne. He is generally characterized as a pessimistic, gloomy, depressed old grey stuffed donkey who is a friend of the title character, Winnie-the-Pooh.
(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "B" is for "bleak")

Here’s this week’s Berownial quiz question:
“We’ve been thinking about setting up an intervention for one of our friends, but we don’t know how to go about it.  So we thought you’d be the natural one to ask.”

“Well, I’ve been involved in several interventions, but I’m far from the expert on the topic.  So often these days interventions are used because the subject suffers from drug addiction.  Your job is to convince him to check into a rehabilition center for treatment.”

“No, that wouldn’t apply in this case.  We’re pretty sure he’s not ‘using.’”

“Then he’s probably a boozer.  By the way, what’s his name?” 

“We’d rather not give his name.  Could we just refer to him as ‘the subject’?  And I would be derelict if I didn't mention that his problem has nothing to do with alcohol.”

“Okay, let’s see.  He’s into gambling in a big way?”

“Nope, not that either.  I apologize for not coming straight to the point.  Our friend, the subject, is  – well, he wanders about gloomy and depressed, almost all the time.  He always has this bleak outlook.  He’s a manic-depressive except that there’s no manic; just the other thing.”

“And you’ve talked to him about this?”

“Yeah, but he won’t change.  He’s stubborn as a mule, which come to think of it he resembles in a number of ways.  He’s been our friend for years – because basically he’s a pretty decent sort – but we’re all tired of his attitude.”

“From what you’ve said, my guess would be that he likes to live alone?  And he’s probably always in gray; no bright colors?”

“Right, exactly.  He lives off in an area known as Hundred-Acre Wood.  When we drop around he always says he’s glad to see us, but he sure doesn’t act like it.” 

“And that gloominess affects others?  Members of your group show signs of cognitive vulnerability?”

“Uh, I – of what?”

“In other words, he makes others gloomy too?”


“Well, there’s probably no nearby institution you could check him into – not that it matters because it would seem the subject would refuse to go.  And there's no way to medicate the problem.  My advice is, he’s your friend so why not just accept him as he is?”

(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings.)

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is: give us the name of “the subject”?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

177 Quiz Answer

Here’s this week’s quiz answer.
Show Boat is a 1927 musical with music by Jerome Kern and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. The show features the lives of the performers, stagehands, and dock workers on the Cotton Blossom, a Mississippi River show boat, over forty years, from 1887 to 1927. Its themes include racial prejudice and tragic love.
(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "A" is for "Al")

Here’s this week’s Berownial quiz question.
I wrote the following, hoping it might suggest a famous musical.  Your assignment, assuming you accept it, is: name the musical.

“I came as soon as I heard the news.  You’ve decided not to invest in our production?”

“I thought you’d be dropping around.”

“You understand, Al, without your financial backing, this show hasn’t much of a chance to be produced!”

“That’s the great thing about being a backer.  I can always back out.  I just got a copy of the completed script.  I couldn’t believe it.  This is a ‘musical’?  A show full of dancing girls, comedians, great scenery, beautiful music?  But you traverse the whole theatrical spectrum with a few ‘extras’ – such as poverty, suffering, misery, miscegenation, racism?  You folks wrote this?  You’re out of your minds!”

“But Al, you haven’t grasped the main point.  This is 1927!  It’s a different century!   We're through with pretense.  It’s time Broadway began to deal with real life, with reality.  With this production we’re going to create something that will be a watershed in theatrical history.  They’ll be talking about our show a hundred years from now.”

“Right, still trying to recover the dough they invested in it!  Look, I recognize good theatre.  You may well have a fine play here, the one that’s serious and a kind of tragedy.  But that’s a different show.  You’re trying to insert it into a typical ‘Follies’ type of musical revue.  It’s a terrible idea.”    

“But it’s not as though there are solid, etched-in-stone rules for musicals.  If there are, it’s high time they were broken.”

“You don’t break the rules if they are what sells tickets, decade after decade.  You have to assign gorgeous dancing girls, for the tired businessman in the audience, along with beautiful love songs for his wife’s enjoyment.  Everyone’s happy.”

“And we’ve got all that.  Look at the creative crew, the greatest names in the business!”

“You don’t have to tell me – music by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein!  No bones about it, it’s a show that couldn’t possibly fail and yet you’re doing all you can to make it do just that.  Your opening scenes don’t show happy-happy folks singing and dancing.  Instead, you have bitter, depressed people doing tough, back-breaking work and complaining angrily about it.  You don’t want the audience to leave the theatre feeling good; you want ‘em to feel miserable.”

“No, Al.  Today’s audiences are more sophisticated, more grown-up.”

“Okay, let’s talk about grown up.  Do you realize that if you perform this in certain parts of the South today they might very well toss the whole cast in the lockup?”

“Luckily, we’ll be here up north, on Broadway.”

(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings.)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

176 Quiz Answer

Here’s this week’s quiz answer.

Way back in 18th-century France, an army engineer named Rouget de Lisle wrote a piece of music – a chant de guerre, a war song.

Revolutionary types got hold of it and made it theirs.  Volunteers from Marseille, on a march against the French King, entered Paris on July 30th, 1792, singing the song with such fervor that so many in the City of Light were thrilled by it; they named it “La Marseillaise.”

For decades the melody sort of represented France but it was not until 1958 that it was made the official national anthem.

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "Z" is for "zeal.")
Here’s this week’s Berownial quiz question.  It’s about a well-known song.  Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is: name the song.

“You don’t understand.  I’ve got nothing against the song as a song.  It’s beautiful.” 

“Then why are you against adopting it as our official theme?”

“It’s confusing.  Originally it was a chant de guerre, a war song – full of patriotic zeal and all that.  Then the rebels got hold of it; the whole meaning changed.  Suddenly it was part of, a kind of trigger for, the Revolution.  For the composer it was like a kick in the belly; he was horrified.”

“Well, I hate to hurt the composer’s feelings, but a song was very much needed and this seems to fill the bill.  Besides, when those guys from the south showed up on a march against the French king while singing this piece, people went wild.”

“I know.  There are some who immediately claimed it should be declared official, but it’s really just a song named after a southern town.  Strange that anyone would consider it appropriate for other sections of the country.”

“But they do!  If this is what they want, I say let’s give it to them.”

“Well, there’s another problem.  We need a piece that can be sung by everyone, school kids as well as adults.  Have you read the hapless lyrics?  Talk about blood and guts – it’s too much!”

“There’s no need to emphasize such delinquent stuff when you’re singing the song.  You just need to keep the emphasis on the uplifting theme.”

“Here, read the lyrics.  It’s about killing, no use pretending it isn’t.  It’s about slaughtering the forces of the enemy so that their blood will fertilize our fields.  Their blood will be flowing down the plowed furrows!  You’re going to have five-year-olds singing this in kindergarten?” 

“Well, it’s strong, no question about that.  But we need a strong song as a national anthem and it’s simply a fact that it has caught the imagination of a great many people around the world.”

(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings.) 

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