Sunday, December 27, 2015

Final Act

Dear Followers of Berowne's "Savage Reflections." I'm very sorry to have to inform you that my father, John Savage, passed away on December 26, just a week shy of his 94th birthday. He had been in poor health for some time, but he always did everything he could to prepare his Sunday posts, which went up like clockwork. His blog stories and puzzles, and especially the camaraderie of the community of those who followed them, were extremely special to him, so I'd like to thank you for being an important part of his life in recent years. I know he would not want you to feel sad for him, as many of you know through his stories what a rich life he had. If you think of him please remember the warmth, intelligence, and humor of his exchanges with you on this site. Please feel free to post any thoughts or comments, or to e-mail me directly at With heartfelt thanks and best wishes, John Savage (Berowne's son)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Berowne's 299

(Also for ABC Wednesday: "X" is for exasperation.)

All my troubles seemed so far away.
But problems then showed up, as if to stay.
Though I believed in --

Something came to live in my hard drive,
A nasty virus that was real, alive.
No word of warning, just about midday.
I never will forget that –

I called my faithful old computer guy.
This time, it seems, he had an alibi:
He’d just left for his holiday.
In fact, he’d just left --

I like to think I’m good as blogging host,
But then I couldn’t even send a post.
The virus knocked my ‘pewter for a loop;
My very blog began to sag and droop.

But now it’s fixed, all set to meet and greet.
Tho I won’t soon forget the disarray
And all the mess that happened –

(Forgive the exasperation.  As the above indicates, Berowne had a little problem; hopes to be back to normal next week.)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

298 Quiz Answer

The play is “The Tempest.”  Prospero lives on a remote island and along with him is a slave of his named Caliban, who is sort of a half-man and half whutizzit.  Caliban was born on the isle (his mother was a she-devil, and you what they’re like) and he is one of the most debated figures in all of theatrical history.  Is he just a belligerent monster or is he worthy of our sympathy?  Some say this play was Shakespeare’s cogent comment on the excesses of colonialism.
(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "W" is for "worker")

Here’s another scenelet that should remind you of a well-known play.  Which play?

“I appreciate your seeing me on such short notice.”

“Well, it’s a pleasure; we don’t get many visitors on the island.  In fact, you’re the first.”

“It’s a fascinating operation you’ve got here.  Let me introduce myself.  My name is Thomas Pilbeam, of the I L O.”

“Is that like the A F of L?”

“Sort of.  I L O stands for the International Labor Organization.  You can spell ‘labour’ with a ‘u’ or without.”

“Good to know.  But I guess I don’t understand why you’ve come here.”

“The I L O is working hard to protect domestic workers around the world.  Domestic workers often work excessively long hours, without breaks, days off or holidays. The pay is often very low, with wages frequently delayed.”

“It sounds like you’re doing fine work, which I certainly support.  But again, what does any of this have to do with me?”

“You have domestic workers, do you not?”

“I don’t know where you got your info, but you couldn’t be more wrong.  This is a very small island.  I live on it and I run things but I have no domestic workers, if by that you mean someone to cook and clean and so on.  There’s just one man, my assistant.  He does odd jobs…”

“And he is paid?”

“Of course.  When I first hired him he was living wildly on the island with no job, no money, nothing.  Now he has employment, a place to stay and regular meals.  That’s pay, and good pay too.”

“I’m afraid that the I L O would disagree with you on that.  He would be the type of tense worker who has no legal protection, someone excluded from legal legislation.”

“But you don’t understand all the things I’ve done for this guy!  He was vengeful at first, living like a savage – a cannibal, practically - and I taught him language!  You ought to hear how he has learned to cuss!”

(The answer will be posted Saturday.) 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Berowne's 297

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "V" is for "vanished.")

Berowne has no quiz this week; instead - a Love Story.

I had sat at the typewriter for over an hour, trying to figure out what to write. (This happened back in the days before ‘pewters.)

I had received an extraordinary letter.  It was from a man up in Rhode Island, a man I had known in the old days.

It was a delicate matter; I had known him and also known his wife, back before they were married.  I had known her, actually, rather well.

In his letter he said she had left him and he thought I might be able to help him find her. The problem of what to write was suddenly solved because the phone rang.  Since he hadn’t received an answer to his letter he decided to call me directly.  He got right to the point.

"Reason I wrote you, you went with her for a year or so back then, before we got married."

“A year or so?  It was actually a few months.  And ‘went with her’ isn’t really accurate; we were friends.”

“That ain’t what I heard.”

“So, well, anyway, how is Marilyn?  Okay I hope.”

“Marilyn? You don’t even remember her name. It’s Maureen.”

“Oh, right. You know, it was a long time ago; I was just out of college.  I don’t remember everyone I knew in those days.”

“Well, as I wrote you, she left. Just got up and left.  Vanished."

“Yes, I was sorry to read that.”

“It got me upset; my whole family is upset. It even got her family upset. A married woman.  My wife.  Just up and leaves.  Anyway, I thought you might help.”

“Sure, if I can.”

“Here’s the thing.  If she should ever contact you – you know, call on the phone to talk over old times or whatever – could you tell her that what she really ought to do is go back to her husband.  And then let me know where she’s staying.  It’s important I find out where she’s staying.”

“Why do you think she left?”

“Who knows?  Maybe she just don’t like Rhode Island.”

“She told me, way back when she was first talking about getting married, that she felt vulnerable, that you weren’t – well – all that nice to her.”

“That’s baloney.  As her husband, I worked hard, fifty hours a week sometimes, to get her whatever she needed.  You can’t be much nicer than that.”

“But, you never – I’m just trying to figure out why she left -- you never abused her, never hit her or anything like that?”

His voice was resonant with anger: “What’re you -- a shrink or somethin’!?   I didn’t call you to get a lecture!  I’m a husband from the old school.  My whole family, we know how to treat women.”

“Well, I’m sorry I can’t be of much help.  But I'll go along with you; if I should ever hear from her, I’ll tell her to go back to her husband.  Goodbye.”  I hung up the phone.

“Was that him?” she asked.

“Yes.  I just hope he stays up there and doesn’t come down here to our placid life in New York.  As I remember, he was a pretty big guy.  I’d be inclined to avoid a confrontation.”

“Yes, we’ve got to be careful. When I mentioned divorce, he said he’d kill me first.”

“And that would mean me second.  I can just picture my possible obituary - guess this is what they call living dangerously.  But it’s worth it, Maureen, to have you with me again.”

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