Sunday, December 30, 2012

149 Quiz Answer

Here's the answer to this week's quiz.
Iago is a soldier who fought beside his general, Othello, for some years and who became his trusted advisor. At the beginning of the play, Iago claims to have been unfairly passed over for promotion in favor of Michael Cassio. Iago plots to manipulate Othello into demoting Cassio, and thereafter to bring about the downfall of Othello himself.
The three bloggers who came up with Iago as the correct answer are naturgesetz, Raymond Pert and Black Jack’s Carol.

(For Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "Y" is for "Year")
Each week I’ve been posting a weekly quiz here. Folks seem to like them so here’s another one, a good way to start the year.
I wrote the following scene, inspired by one of the better-known Shakespeare characters. Your assignment – should you choose to accept it – is: the scene is suggestive of which character?

“That last liberty, that’s one I’ll never forget.”
“Yeah, that was something. Took me a couple of days to recover.”
“Made me think the Service as a career isn’t really so bad after all. But Jim, you don’t really agree with that, do you?”
“Why should I agree? Fifteen years of service, battles and combat all over the world, risked my life dozens of times, and what do I wind up with? Two metal bars and a few rows of ribbons – what good are they in civvie life? “
“Come on, you got your rank. Full Lieutenant isn’t too bad a pay grade for retirement.”
“But that – that – is exactly the point. I was due for lieutenant-commander and they bring in this Hughes, a total outsider. They make him a lieut-com and he’s now the fair-haired boy as far as the Captain is concerned. That should have been my job! It was as though it had been promised to me. For all practical purposes I already had it; the skipper depended on me for just about everything!”
“Yeah, I know. I thought it was – well – unfair.”
“Unfair is the least of it. For the good of the service you want experienced officers. This Hughes guy, he doesn’t seem to have been anywhere or done anything - he spent most of his time idling - and he is now the skipper’s right-hand man!”
“You don’t seem to understand that in the military, politics often plays a more important part than experience. You see, actually, Hughes has been places and done things.”
“Yeah, like what?”
“Well, he’s been to the right schools, the right university. He comes from the right family, an important family that seems to know all the right people. And you – let’s face it – you never set foot in a universibty and not very many schools as far as that goes; you came up through the hawsepipe.”
“There was a time when a guy who came up through the hawsepipe, who started at the lowest level and worked his way through all that petty-officer crap right on up to a commission, he kept up the pace and made the very best, the most experienced officer!”
“Yeah, yeah. Listen, I’m on your side. But Hughes has got the job. It’s obvious that he’s the skipper’s choice. You should relax and just accept it. What's the point of being defiant or to keep on nagging? A few years more, you’ll make lieut-com and you can retire.”
“In the meantime I’m supposed to take orders from the likes of this – landlubber! I don’t think I can stand it!”
“Hey, I hadn’t realized how much you were upset by this. Jim, you’ve got to calm down. You’ll get yourself all worked up and maybe do something stupid to try to get revenge.”

Go on; have a go. The scene suggests which Shakespeare character?
(Submitted also to Sunday Scribblings.)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Meeting the Real Santa

(Submitted to Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "X" is for Xceptional.)
In the middle of this holiday season I thought I’d tell you about my visit with Santa. Not the tedious fat guy in the red suit in the department store, the real Santa.

Check out this picture; we're in the tropics. The sun has detonated an explosion of heat and beauty. There’s a magnificent beach and the ocean, it’s the Mediterranean, is dazzling. This is what they call the Turkish Riviera, and the name is justified; it can hold its own with the French Riviera.
Reason I’m telling you about this place is that some years ago I was in this tropical paradise and had a chance to meet Santa. Everyone knows that ol’ S. Claus lives up in the frozen north with Mrs Claus and a houseful of industrious, non-union elves, not to mention a stable of reindeer, and that Santa has always lived there.
Not true.

Santa Claus was originally Saint Nicholas, who lived in the fourth century and who never saw the North Pole (and maybe never saw any snow). He was born and lived comfortably right here in the hot, sunny Turkish Riviera, though the name would not have been familiar to him. I was there working on a tourism-promotion project for the Turkish government and I thought it would be interesting to show Santa’s real home, where he was born and raised.
As for the actual saint, Nicholas, he had been famous for his generosity, for the way he gave gifts to the needy. (Well, he should have; he was a saint.) He became known throughout the Christian world.
He wound up in Holland, where they changed his appearance somewhat. They also took his name and sort of Dutchified it: St. Nicholas became Sinterklaas. When the Dutch lived in New Amsterdam they celebrated Christmas with Sinterklaas and all the English folks living around them thought the old fellow was sort of cool so they adopted him for their Christmas too.

They couldn’t quite pronounce “Sinterklaas” however; the closest they could get to it was “Santa Claus.” So somehow the old fellow had metamorphosed from a thin, limber 4th-century saint to a corpulent chap in a red suit who was always smiling about something.
One day I was standing on that beach, working, when an Orthodox Christian priest approached and asked if I would like to see the bones of St. Nicholas? Of course, I said.
He returned with a small case, beautifully made, lined with satin, that, he assured me, contained some of the bones of the Saint. It was something truly Xceptional. I was aware of the thousands of kids who go to see Santa at Christmastime and here I was getting to see the real Santa.
For a fleeting moment I thought of saying that I wanted a pony for Christmas, but I couldn’t be sure Orthodox priests had a sense of humor.
Merry, as the saying goes, Christmas, everyone!
(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Berowne's Quiz Answer

Thanks to Dina, who came up with the correct answer, the movie in question is "Schindler's List." (Also submitted to Three-Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "W" is for "Wheeling")
Each week I’ve been posting a little Berownial quiz. Folks seem to like them so here’s another one.
If we’ve had enough Shakespeare for a while, how about motion pictures as a topic? I wrote the following scene, inspired by one of the best movies of the past few decades. Your assignment – should you choose to accept it – is to figure out from the clues which movie it suggests.

“What is all this? I go on vacation for a couple of weeks and come back to chaos! What happened?”
“We’ve been closed down.”
“Closed down? What does that mean?”
“Well, it’s the opposite of ‘opened up,’ except it’s ’closed down’.”
“Come on, Irv. Skip the wisecracks. Tell me what has happened.”
“I thought you knew. It's been very eventful. We’ve got a new CEO and he’s moving the corporation to Wheeling, West Virginia. So he has very softly closed down our whole branch of the company.”
“Wheeling – where the hell is that?”
“I believe it’s in West Virginia, as I may have mentioned.”
“So why does this guy want to take the company there?”
“Well, it seems that he lived there as a kid and wants to move back.”
“You mean to tell me this whole huge corporation is being uprooted and torn apart and moved across the country, with all the hardships that implies, simply because the CEO wants to go back to his home town? Is that possible?”
“Welcome to Economics 101, titled ‘The Perks of Management’. Even worse, they're taking all our workers here in this division and shipping them off, almost like to prison.",
“But why would he shut us down? Our record is profitable.”
“But we’re manufacturing. Seems that in our country people who work in manufacturing, folks who actually make stuff as opposed to folks who just sit in front of computer screens, are on the way out.”
“But we make excellent products! We contribute to the national economy. We in manufacturing are what has made America great! There’s a moral issue here.”
“Sounds like you’re making a speech. As for the moral issue, that’s a pretty high-falutin’ term for what we’ve actually been doing here – making pots and pans for the military.”
“So what? They’re still excellent products!”
“Yes, but face it, they’re pots and pans that can be made by kids in Jiangsu Province or some such place for a fraction of what it costs here to make a pot. Or, as far as that goes, a pan.”
“Don’t worry. I’m going to look into this. They say there's a lot of prejudice in our country because of the positions taken by our Leader. But here I am doing business with a Jewish guy and we're doing fine.”
“I'm happy to hear it.”
"I mean it. I’m going to see that at least you, Irving Starr, will have a job. Let’s face it, I’m the one in the front office but I’m just an echo of what goes on here. I'm well aware that you’re the guy who made things run. This business would have been nothing without you.”
“And now it’s going to be nothing with me.”

Go on, have a go. Which movie is suggested by the above scene?
(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings.)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Berowne's 12/9 Quiz

Here’s the answer to this week’s quiz.
I always had the feeling that of all the kings Will Shakespeare wrote about and thought about – and he thought about quite a number of them - Henry the Fifth was the one he admired the most. He was Will’s idea of the ideal English king.
But when he was young, the future King Henry – then known as Prince Hal – left the Royal Court to waste his time in taverns with low companions.
Hal's chief friend in living the low life was Sir John Falstaff. Fat, old, drunk and corrupt as he was, he had a charisma and a zest for life that captivated the Prince, born into the hypocritical world of the Court.
So the wild kid who turned into a decent young man was Prince Hal, the answer to our quiz for this week.
Laurence Olivier as Henry V.

Congratulations to Lyn and Other Mary for the right answer. I can now publish their original comments.

Here's the original post.
(For Three-Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "V" is for "Victor")
All those tattoos made me think of today’s younger, wilder generation. And that got me to thinking of another Berownial quiz.
Folks seem to like them so here’s another one. I wrote the following scene, basing it loosely on one of the best-known Shakespeare characters (speaking of younger, wilder generations). Your assignment – should you choose to accept it – is, which character?

“You do understand that this is all top secret. If Mr. Axtell knew I had a private detective following his son around he’d be a bit upset.”
“Of course. I’m a professional. I report only to you. No one else knows this is going on.”
“Okay. What’s the bad news this time? What abnormal thing has Victor been up to?”
“Well, I don’t know how bad this news is, but he bought a motorcyle.”
“I suppose that had to happen, sooner or later. But even a used motorbike is – what? A thousand dollars or so? He’s a kid; he can't afford a lavish lifestyle. Where’d he get the money?
“Oh, he had money. Quite a lot of it. He took it from his trust fund.”
“That’s impossible. He can’t touch that trust fund till he’s 21 years old.”
“Young Victor is a bit more clever than you might think. He hacked his way into his fund on the internet. And you won’t believe what he paid for a new Harley-Davidson. Sixty thousand dollars.”
“Good God! I didn’t even know they made motorbikes for that kind of money.”
“Well, he had a lot of custom work done on it. You should see it; it’s kind of unbelievable. But it has made him king of the hill with that gang he hangs out with.”
“Mr. Axtell is going to have a heart attack. So Victor is still with that same gang?”
“Yep. And the real bad news is that they get involved in some nefarious activities from time to time.”
“And you mean to say he takes part?”
“No. He just likes to watch, from a distance. He gets a kick out of such goings-on.”
“I don’t know how I’m going to report this to Mr. Axtell. Here he is, CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Axtell Industries, and he’s got a teenage son who’s running wild. He’ll say Victor should be grounded, but that doesn’t seem to mean much. By the way, who’s – let me check this name here – who’s Fat Ferdy?”
“Oh, that’s one of the gang Victor especially likes to hang out with. They go everywhere together. He makes Victor laugh.”
“I’m glad someone has something to laugh about. Mr Axtell had great plans for his son. He always dangled the possibility before the boy that he would have a top position some day. That would seem to be out of the question now.”
“Well, you know, there’s an angle to this that’s – well, interesting.”
“More bad news?”
“No, not really. When I interviewed him, Victor told me that he knows just what he’s doing. He’s a kid having fun, screwing around, living it up, but he also knows very well who he is and what’s expected of him. I may be mistaken but I got the feeling that when he grows up he’s going to turn out all right.”

(Submitted also to Sunday Scribblings)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Berowne's 146B

Here’s this week’s quiz answer.
In the play “Caesar and Cleopatra,” by George Bernard Shaw, Cleo gets to meet Caesar by being rolled up in a rug and then being unrolled before him.
They make such a perfect couple: she’s 21 and he’s 52. Evidently the meeting went well. Nine months later she had a baby boy she named Caesarion, “Little Caesar.”
In the 1960s there was the spectacular film epic in which Elizabeth Taylor played Cleopatra and went through the same routine: rolled up in a rug, unrolled before Caesar.
It appears, by the way, that this was historically accurate. The original Cleo actually did the rug thing, it wasn’t just thought up by G B Shaw. The French artist Jerome painted the famous event (below): Cleopatra has just daintily emerged from the carpet and presented herself to Caesar. She seems to be dressed, one might say, for the occasion.

Our three winners for this week are Dick Jones, Nicholas V and daydreamertoo, and I can now publish their posts.

Here's the original post for this week::
(For Three-Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "U" is for "Ursula")
The above prompt got me to thinking about time and perhaps another weekly Berownial quiz. So I wrote the little skit that follows, based on a famous scene from a play by George Bernard Shaw. Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is, which play?

Andy: Time is the problem! We don’t have enough time to do all this work!
Fred: Don’t worry; I’m hurryin’. Between you and me, you’d think President Elmore had enough to do without acting as interior decorator for the Oval Office.
Andy: Oh, he’s someone special, all right. There have been few presidents of the U S as interested in all aspects of life in the White House as this one.
Fred: So what does he want done here?
Andy: Well, his idea is to make it a completely new Oval Office – new wallpaper, furniture, carpeting, the works.
Fred: What about that little room there, on the left? You know, where he might take a girlfriend from time to time.
Andy: Fred, stop what you’re doing and come here! Now listen carefully. If you hope to hold on to this job, you’ve got to understand. Any remarks about the President and “girlfriends,” or anything like that, and you’re out of here.
Fred: Sure, I understand. It was just a joke. Sorry.
Andy: Since that last – uh – incident three weeks ago, this has become a kind of battle ground around here. We’re here to do the remodeling job; we keep any wisecracks to ourselves.
[Door opens]
Mr. Wheeler: You’re still here? Take a break for a half-hour or so. The President’s coming to go over the plans.
Andy: You bet, Mr Wheeler. [They leave]
Wheeler: Ah, good morning, Mr. President.
President Elmore: Hi, Paul. How’s the work going?
Wheeler: In a way it's harvest time and we seem to be right on schedule. The wallpaper samples are on your desk. And I believe the carpet has arrived. Would you like to have them bring it in?
President: Yeah, let’s have a look at it.
[A large roll of carpet is brought in and laid on the floor. Wheeler unrolls it. Out pops an attractive young woman.]
President: What in God’s name…
Wheeler: Good Lord!
Ursula: Hi, Mr. President! I’m Ursula, and happy birthday to you! I’m your birthday present.
President: Wheeler, get her out of here!
Wheeler: Come with me, Miss! You’ve got to leave here immediately!
Ursula: Sure, I’ll go. No problem. But first I want to be sure the President has a good look at his present. [She stands, and with a kind of fluid movement she adopts a more or less seductive pose.] They didn’t vote me Miss Far Rockaway for nothing!
Wheeler: Come on! Out, out! Don’t make me get rough with you!
President: Wait a second, Wheeler, let's not be too hasty. They keep criticizing me for spending most of my time with the upper classes. Maybe this is a chance to get to know an average American.
Ursula: Trust me, Mr. President. I’m not average!

(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings)
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