Sunday, October 26, 2014

243 Quiz Answer

The answer is: ale.  Shakespeare’s frequent references to ale in his plays is not surprising because it was the one drink taken daily by most men, women and children of that time. Water enjoyed little favor, even for personal hygiene.  As mentioned earlier, John Shakespeare, Will’s dad, was for a time Stratford’s official ale-taster.

Also for ABC Wednesday: "P" is for "Potable")

News item: The past few years have been California's driest on record. Forecasters predict that punishing droughts like the current one could become the new norm.

Which got me to thinking.  What would we do without drinking water?

A question you may never have asked yourself; generally speaking, water is available for us to drink.

I came up with this question while studying Shakespeare because in his day the water was not to be trusted, it was usually too polluted to drink.

But they had to have something.  Little kids getting up in the morning, wandering into the kitchen for their breakfast, the sixteenth-century equivalent of Cheerios, had to have something to wash it all down with.  It wasn’t milk, wine or cider; they were too expensive for daily imbibing.

Tea and coffee were not introduced into England until about fifty years after Shakespeare’s death, so that he would have had no experience and probably no knowledge of those two beverages.  Imagine an England with no tea…

Well, there was a beverage that was cheap and plentiful; kids drank it regularly as did everyone else.

And just because everyone drank it, Shakespeare’s town, Stratford-Upon-Avon, appointed a special officer to oversee it.  Maybe they couldn’t make the water clean but they could make this stuff potable and not too dangerous. 

Will Shakespeare’s dad held this office for a while; it was one of the many town offices he held during his rise from semi-literate farm hand to – ta-da! – mayor of Stratford.

You can have the same stuff for breakfast today, though not many do.

(I don’t.)

What was it?

(The answer will be posted Saturday)



Sunday, October 19, 2014

242 Quiz Answer

Cleopatra had herself smuggled secretly into the palace to meet with Julius Caesar.  Plutarch in his "Life of Julius Caesar" gives a vivid description of how she entered past the guards rolled up in a carpet.  Evidently their meeting was a friendly one; nine months later Cleopatra gave birth to their son, nicknamed Caesarion, "little Caesar."

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "O" is for "Owen")

I wrote the following scenelet, thinking it might remind you of a well-known historical event.  What event?

“I’m sorry, Ted.  You and I, we’ve been friends for a couple of years and I love you – but not, if you see what I mean, in that way.  I hope we can stay friends.”
“Sure, Jen, no hard feelings.  I always thought we’d make a great couple, but some things were just not meant to be.  Anyway, I’ll always be there for you, if you ever need my help.” 

“Well, now that you mention it, there is something you could help me with.  You might think it’s a bit silly, but I’d really like to meet Mr. Owen.”


“I thought you might react like that.  I know, he’s the boss and I’m just an employee…”

“Jennifer, try to clamber back aboard reality!  Owen is the CEO of one of the largest Fortune 500 corporations in the country.  Your chance of ‘meeting’ him in some sort of social situation is close to zero.”
“I know.  But you know so many people in this firm, I thought…”
“I don’t know Owen!  He’s up there on the penthouse level and I’m down here on the third floor.  How did you ever come up with the idea of meeting the big cheese anyway?”
“Well, I read that after his divorce he’s now an eligible bachelor so I thought if he ever got to know me, the real me, he might think I was just the kind of girl he’s looking for.”
“I don’t think there’s any evidence that he’s ‘looking for’ anyone.  Jen, don't go on the defensive; forget about the CEO.  There’s a lot of nice guys on the staff here – me, as one example – that you can meet a lot more easily than Herr Owen.”
“I know all that but I can’t get him out of my mind.”
“But to get back to your original question, how on earth could I help you meet Owen?”
“Well Ted, you may not be aware of it but there’s a general feeling in the department that you are a guy with a fertile mind and a lot of good ideas.  Some of them are sort of wild and crazy, but often they seem to work.”
“So you want a wild and crazy idea as to how to meet the top boss?”
“Well – you know…  I do have an idea that just came to me.  You'd have to be pretty needy to do this , but I think it would be wild and crazy enough for anyone.  He’s having his office remodeled and I’m in charge of the new furniture, drapes, carpet and so on.”
“I’m listening.”
“Suppose – you did say ‘wild and crazy,’ right?  Suppose we had you rolled up in that huge new carpet, then when it’s delivered to his office you pop out and say, ‘Hi, Mr. Owen!  I’m Jennifer!”
“Wow.  I’m afraid that’s a bit too much.  That could never happen in reality.”
“But it did.”

(The answer will be posted Saturday.)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

241 Quiz Answer

Romeo believes, mistakenly, that Juliet is dead; he is devastated.
He decides that he does not want to live without Juliet, and says "I will lie with thee tonight".  He sees an apothecary and asks him for a deadly drug.  (Act V of “Romeo and Juliet”)
(Akso for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "N" is for "Neal")
A bleak story for you this week.
Neal is depressed because he has learned that the girl he loves has just died.  He wants to do away with himself too.  He goes to a drugstore to try to get some poison that will do the job.  I wrote the following scenelet because I thought it might remind you of a Shakespeare play.  Which play?
“Why did you come to me?”
“I read an article in the morning paper. Seems this old drugstore has been around for the last 100 years or so. A local landmark.”
“That’s right. My grandfather started it  He was a gifted pharmacist."
“And now the paper says the town is going to lose the landmark because you’re heading into bankruptcy and closing down the place.”
“Uh – what does any of this have to do with you?”
“Well, I thought I could be of help. I have a plan and I'd like to put it in motion. With the right amount of money you could avoid bankruptcy and fix this place up like new.”
“That’s kind of funny. The bank won’t loan me a cent and you, a drugstore customer I’ve never seen before, are going to loan me enough to pay off everybody? Is that what you’re saying?”
“I’m not going to loan it to you. As you say, I’m a customer. I’ll purchase stuff and pay you well for what I buy.”
“I think I’m beginning to see what you’re getting at. You want me to sell you items of pharmacology that the law prevents me from selling without a doctor’s prescription. And then you’ll give me a large amount of cash.”
“I couldn’t have phrased it better myself.”
“Listen, I made an intense  little vow to myself long ago. I’ll have nothing to do with druggies. The best thing you could do right now is just leave peacefully.”
“Sure, I’ll leave. But then your future will be nothing but bankruptcy and this fine old store will rot away. I can prevent all that with just one business deal.”
“Has it occurred to you, aside from the moral issue, that this would be illegal?”
“No one, absolutely no one, would ever know about it – just you and me.”
“I wouldn’t be able to sleep nights.”
“How many nights are you going to be able to sleep after you lose the store? And a guy your age, the only kind of job you’ll be able to get will have you saying, 'You want fries with that?'”
“How – how much money are we talking about?”
“Here. I prepared this envelope. There’s enough in it to solve all your problems.”
“I – I never would have believed I could do anything like this. If I do it, I’ll do it under protest.”
“Sure.  Then you go off and get a good night’s sleep – and I’ll get a good long sleep.”
(The answer will be posted Saturday)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

240 Quiz Answer

“Show Boat,” a great classic of the American theatre, was first produced on Broadway in 1927.  There have been many other versions of the show since.  One of its hit songs was “Make Believe.”   
Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "M" is for "Meeting."
(I wrote the following scenelet, thinking it might remind you of a well-known theatrical production.  Which production?)

“The draft beer here is excellent.”

“What?  That’s your idea of a pickup line?”

“Well, it beats ‘You come here often?’”

“Not by much.”

“Let me start over.  I take the liberty of pointing out that you are a very attractive young woman.  Would you be interested in some friendly, not to mention entertaining, conversation?”

“If it you promise it won’t be too friendly.  I should explain.  I don’t usually hang out in bars, but today’s a special day so I thought I’d drop into this place for a celebratory drink.”

“What happened?  You’ve been made CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation?”

“No, I don't mean to sound arrogant or to showboat but I was just appointed head of my department.  I am now monarch of all I survey – all six cubicles.”
“Six cubicles!  We should celebrate together.  Are you interested in game-playing?”

“I was afraid there would be something crude like that.”

“No, no, this is a different idea.  I mean a real game, no hanky-panky stuff, which I thought we could play right here.”

“I – guess I might be interested.”

“That’s what this game needs, wild enthusiasm.  It’s a variation of an oldtime entertainment called Let’s Pretend.”

“And I’m supposed to pretend to be a farm animal or something similar, and make the appropriate noises?”

“No, this is a supple, modern version.  For example, when I saw you sitting there at the bar, someone I had never seen before, I thought it would be great if I could make believe we’d known each other for years.”

“And the ‘make believe’ part would be me doing the same thing?”

“Exactly.  Couldn’t you?  Couldn’t I?  Couldn’t we?”

“Yes, I see that could be kind of fun.”

“We could talk over old times.  Remember that night when we were in high school and my car’s carbureter broke down?”

“I was pretty sure you didn’t know what a carbureter was, but neither of us cared as long as it broke down.”

“Ha.  Those were great days together.”

“Yes, they were.”

“And of course there was that special moment when I told you…”

“Told me what?”

“You know.”

“When you said ‘I love you’?”

“Exactly.  Trouble with this game of make-believe is, the pretending breaks down and reality takes over - because, to tell the truth, I think I do.” 

(The answer will be posted Saturday.)  
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