Sunday, December 29, 2013

200 Quiz Answer

The answer: Mozart’s “The Magic Flute"
Here’s the “bird man” in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of the opera, surrounded by Julie Taymor’s birds. 
(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "Y" is for "yearning")
Here’s this week’s Berownial quiz question.  I wrote the following scenelet, thinking it might remind you of a gorgeous Mozart musical production.  What’s its name? 

“Cathy, I do hope you won’t take this the wrong way, but I’m afraid it was a mistake to invite Adam to dinner last night.”

“Yes, it was kind of a jittery evening, wasn't it?  I thought Dad might make an effort to be at least a little polite when I bring a friend home to meet the folks.”

“Well, you know your father.  His idea of a young man for his daughter is someone in the corporate world or in hedge funds or whatever.  He just couldn’t get his mind around what a ‘bird man’ is or what he does.”

“Mom, Adam is just a friend.  I happen to admire him very much.  There aren’t many young guys his age who are openly yearning, yearning for something and probably aren't sure themselves what it is.”

“Well, yearning is okay, I guess.  But I'm a bit like Dad; earning is pretty important too.  What is it exactly that Adam does for a living?  Something to do with birds, evidently.”

“It’s – it’s a bit difficult to explain.  His job is sort of unique.”

“He hunts birds?  He goes into the woods and shoots birds?”

“No, no, not at all.  He goes into the woods but not to kill anything; he sort of collects birds.”

“He collects birds.  I see.  It’s a scientific thing.”

“Well, sort of.  To be honest, I don’t have it perfectly clear in my mind just what he does with them.  I guess he sells them.”

“There can’t be a lot of money in that.”

“You see, Mom, that’s the thing.  He doesn’t care about money.  He has his mind set on higher things.”

“Like collecting birds.”

“I know it sounds odd, but keep in mind that the thing I admire is that he’s so dedicated, so committed, to his work.”

“Yes, you mentioned that he even dresses up like a bird when he’s working.  Dad did find that – strange.”

“Well, Adam says he wants to understand the mindset of birds when he walks among them.”

“H’mm.  I think Dad was worried that you might get serious about this fellow.  He probably could see himself walking down the aisle some day to give his daughter away and waiting there would be the groom – outrageously dressed like a bird.”

Sunday, December 22, 2013

199 Quiz Answer

The Cherry Orchard is the last play by Anton Chekhov. It opened in 1904 at the Moscow Art Theatre in a production directed by the great Stanislavski himself. 
(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "X" is for "exception")
Here’s this week’s Berownial quiz question.  I’m sure you’re familiar with Russian playwrights - Tolstoy, Turgenev, Chekhov, Gogol.  I wrote the following scenelet, thinking it might remind you of a famous Chekhov play which has been translated and adapted into many languages and produced around the world, becoming a classic of dramatic literature.  What’s the play?

“Mrs. Wallace, I mean no disrespect, but you’ve always lived off that trust fund your father left you.  That money is just about gone.  And you seem to be loaded down with bills and unpaid loans – a lot of debt, in other words.” 

“Well, you’re the financial expert; that’s why you’ve been brought in on this.  How do you propose to solve this problem?”

“We can sell the house.  But that would just about pay off the debt.  You would wind up with no money and nowhere to live.”

“You certainly paint an enticing picture of my future.  I hate the idea of having to move.  I was born and raised right here; I love this magnificent house, the exquisite cherry trees, the stream that runs nearby...

“Well, it’s a serious situation, no question about that.  However, before they start playing the finale and bringing down the curtain I’m pleased to report crisply that you are fortunate to have one asset that is going to solve all your problems.”

“Ah, I was hoping you’d get around to a solution.”

“It’s your property.  Because of the debts we may not be able to raise any cash from the sale of the house, but the acres of your property out back are going to provide you with all the money you’ll need to live on.”

“So there’s no real problem.  You go ahead and sell anything and everything you need to – there’s just one exception.”

“And that exception, I suppose, has to do with all those trees on the property?”

“That’s it exactly.”

“I see.  When I say no problem, I’m assuming you’ll let me clear the area and allow the building of condominiums or family homes or rental units, whatever.  That is the only way you will be able to have an adequate, solid income.”

“What do you mean, ‘clear the area’?  You’re planning to cut down the trees?”

“Ah, I was afraid that might be your reaction.  At this moment, ma’am, you possess nothing – nothing – of value except that property.  And as thickly overgrown with trees as it is, it cannot be sold.”

“You are not to cut down one tree!”

“Mrs. Wallace, what will you live on?  Don’t you understand?  I don’t like the idea of cutting down trees either, but you have literally no choice!  I can be of no help to you if you don’t face reality.”  

“Look, we can save a lot of time right here.  I’m open to any suggestions except for this one exception.  I love those trees; they must remain just as they are!”

(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

198 Quiz Answer

Michael York and Liza Minnelli
Cabaret is a musical based on a book written by Christopher Isherwood, music by Kander and Ebb.

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "W" is for "Will")
Here’s this week’s Berownial quiz question: I wrote the following scenelet, thinking it might remind you of a famous musical.  Name the musical.

Berlin, Germany, in the early 1930s.

“Come on, Will.  Are you talking about the Austrian corporal?  Don’t worry about him.  He’s just a bag of hot air.”

“Really?  Seems to me Hitler is something to worry about.  He has quite a following.”

“But what does it add up to?  A collection of dimwits marching about shouting heil! to each other in a combative way.  His party, the National Socialists, does not represent the general population and will never amount to anything serious.”

“I hope you’re right.  You’ve lived here for a full year so I guess you know more about this than I do.  I realize I’m just a tourist.”

“Look at it this way.  The German people are blessed with a large portion of common sense.  They may have the occasional radical agitator to deal with, but he won’t win any general elections.  My advice is, ignore local politics and especially ignore local politicians.”

“That’s easy to say, but I’m still concerned.  Along with this Hitler movement, there’s the economic depression to worry about – it’s spreading around the world.”

“So that’s your theme now, to be permanently down in the dumps?  What you need is a little cheering-up.  Wasn’t that the original idea?  To enjoy your visit to Germany?”

“But there’s so much bad stuff going on…”

“Listen, Will.  We’re going to go out and have some fun.  I know a great little spot, a sort of night club here in town where’s there music and comedy and beautiful girls.   You’ll love it.”

“Sounds great, but I’m really not in the mood right now.”

“This joint will get you out of that sluggish mood, get you to enjoy life for a while.   What good is sitting alone in your room?  Come here the music play!”

(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

197 Quiz Answer

Finding Nemo is a 2003 American film, released by Walt Disney Pictures

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "V" is for "Dr. Vernon.")
Here’s this week’s Berownial Quiz question: I wrote the following scenelet, thinking it might remind you of a hit motion picture.  What’s the name of the movie?

“Good morning, Miss Swenson.  Welcome.  I want you to know I read your column regularly.”

“So you’re the one, Dr. Vernon!  You know, I’ve heard so much about your office I just had to come and see it for myself.”

“Well, you’ve got to admit it’s different, right?”

“It’s – it’s, well, maybe ‘spectacular’ might be too strong a word, but it’s certainly impressive.”

“I see you brought your camera.  Please feel free to take all the pictures you want.”

“I’ve seen quite a few other dentists’ offices, but never one like this.  It should make for an interesting column.  How did you come up with the idea of making the highlight of your waiting-room a huge fish tank?”

“Well, you know, most folks in a waiting-room have to just sit there and look through old magazines.  In fact, a trip to a dentist is almost by definition something unpleasant.  I wanted to make a visit here something that could be enjoyed.”

“And the fish!  What an extraordinary variety.  Some of them are truly beautiful.”

“Yes.  Folks tell me looking at my fish tank is like going to a well-produced movie.”

“Is there some company that supplies you with these amazing sea creatures?”

“Company?  No.  I submit to you that, as you well know, lying right outside our own Sydney harbour is one of the wonders of the world.”

“The Great Barrier Reef.”

“Exactly.  It’s an incredible sea paradise teeming with life, with over a thousand different species of exotic tropical fish.  We have an endless supply right next door.”

“They certainly put on a show in this tank.  I love this little fellow right here.  I wonder if he ever dreamed that one day he’d wind up swimming about in a Sydney dentist’s office.  Do you suppose he’s happy here or do you think he’d rather be back home in his coral reef?”

“Well, if he’s got any brains, he’d prefer being here.  I'd instruct him that out there he’d soon develop a phobia because of the possibility he could be swallowed up by one of the larger species.  And here there are no sharks or jellyfish or other such threats.”

“I wonder if fish have family ties.  You know, maybe the folks back home are wondering what happened to him.”

“Ha.  You’ve got quite an imagination, Miss Swenson.”

(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings)


Sunday, December 1, 2013

196 Quiz Answer

The elder Germont's aria, sung to his son, from Verdi’s “La Traviata”:

“The sea and soil of Provence, who has erased them from your heart?

From your native, brilliant sun, what destiny stole you away?

Oh, remember in your sorrow the joy that glowed within you,

And that only there can peace yet shine upon you.”

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "U" is for "unacceptable")
Here’s this week’s Berownial quiz.

Giuseppe Verdi was the composer who created the world-famous operas “Rigoletto,” “Aida” and a number of others.  I wrote the following scenelet, which I hope may suggest one of his works.  Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is: name the opera.

(At some time in the nineteenth century an elderly gentleman is visiting his son in Paris.  He would like him to come back to their home in Provence, especially since the young man seems to have become involved with a woman of easy virtue.)

“Dad, this is all so pointless.  I told you to stay home.  Nothing you can say is going to change my mind.”

“So I’m just paying a brief visit.  Surely I have a right to visit my son once in a while.”

“Okay, you’ve visited.  Now I must insist.  I don’t want to offend you but please go back home and leave me alone.”

“I’ll go, I’ll go.  But first I want you to know just how – unhappy – I am about your situation.”

“My ‘situation’ is fine, Dad.  There’s nothing to worry about.” 

“You really prefer being exposed to the noise and hustle and grime of this infernal city to what we have in Provence?  The sun, the sea, the beauty…”

“Yes, I very much prefer it here.  I like the noise and hustle – maybe not so much the grime – and of course it’s here that I met Violetta, a truly wonderful girl.  Though I guess that’s one of the main reasons you came this time.”

“Well, since you bring it up.  You’ve changed so much, associating with all kinds of people.  As for the – er – young person in question, I’m sure she’s interesting, in her way.  But it’s clear she one of those who revel in a cheap, unacceptable life style.”

“Unacceptable?  Dad, I realize the news-flash that times have changed hasn’t gotten around to you yet.  That you might refer to a girl as ‘cheap’ is so last century, but even so I find it offensive.  Let me spell it out for you: this is the girl I want to marry.  Don’t say anything about her that you’ll be sorry for later.” 

“And don’t you be sorry later.  Your mother and I, we worked hard to raise you for something so much better.”

“Yeah, well, say hello to everyone back home in Provence.  Have a safe trip.”

(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings.)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

195 Quiz Answer

“The Music Man” was a highly successful Broadway musical with book, music and lyrics by Meredith Willson (and starring Robert Preston), which went on to both film and TV adaptations.

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "T" is for "Travis")
Here’s this week’s Berownial quiz question.  I wrote the following scenelet, thinking it might remind you of a production that was a hit musical which then became a hit movie.  What was its name?

A town meeting, years ago.

“Can you hear me all right, in the back of the hall there?  Then I hereby declare this meeting open.”

“We can hear you okay, Paul.  I want to begin with something important, something that affects…”

“Wait a minute, Jed.  Sit down.  We’ve got to do this right, follow our rules of order.  First off, we need to have the reading of the minutes of the last meeting.”

“Mr. Chairman!  I move and second that we postpone or just skip the minutes reading.   We have something more important…”

“You can’t second your own motion, Jed!  All right, we’ll assume it’s been seconded.  What is it you’re so fired up about?”

“Mr. Chairman, I speak as a proud member of our proud community, a town that has summed up, and I may even say epitomized, what the American dream has come to mean for generations of citizens.  When language takes flight and one speaks of the land of the free and the home of the brave, we might well be talking of our very own municipality…”

“Uh, Jed, you said you had something important to bring up.  Could you be a bit more specific and zero in on just what it is?”

“Of course, Mr. Chairman.  I speak of a very present danger, a crisis.  We have to be wary of outsiders, Paul, coming into our fair town, bringing with them newfangled ideas and some curious projects they want to foist on us.” 

“You’re speaking of Mr. Travis, right?  Well, he arrived recently in town and he has presented some interesting musical ideas for our local young folks but I don’t see this as a crisis.”

“You don’t?  You may not be aware of just how negative an impact music has on younger generations today and how it affects their lives; it can be a kind of drug to them.  This Travis character wants to organize our kids, get them all steamed up about forming musical groups that will inevitably drive their parents, as well as the rest of us, out of our minds.”

“Well, Jed, I guess I don’t agree that getting children to learn more about music is ‘unscrupulous.’  I think this could be something our town could be proud of.  On major holidays it would be great to see our kids performing in a musical parade.”

“Oh, don’t get that guy Travis started talking about parades.  You wouldn’t believe the number of trombones he plans to lead with.”

(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Berowne's 193 Quiz

(Here's this week's Berownial quiz question.  I wrote the following, hoping it would remind you of a hit song of a few decades ago.  What's the song?)

"There was no need to come down here to the station house, Mr Rowan.  We ciould have handled this on the phone."
"I know, sergeant.  But I wanted to come here in person to apologize.  I got sort of excited there, I'm afraud."
"Yes, you did.  You were shouting something about how us cops just sit around and do nothing when yiou've got an important emergency on your hands."
"Oh God, again I apologize.  You see, that car is my pride and joy.  When I learned it was stolen I sort of fell apart."
"But of course it wasn't stolen, was it?  So often it's just a case of a family member taking a car for a spin."
"Right.  That's exactly what happened.  My daughter just got her driver's license last week and she couldn't wait to drive in real traffic."
"It was quite a ride, from what the police report has to say.  She went at normal speed throuigh a hamburger stand, putting an unknown number of hamburgers at risk."
"Ha.  Glad to see you've got a sense of humor about this."
"Well, there was no real harm done."
"But in addition to the danger she placed herself in, that vehicle cost me a fortune."
"Yes, it's obviously a collector's item - don't see all that many Thunderbirds these days.  You've kept it in real good condition."
"I sure have.  Perfect conditiion.  At least that's what it was in when my daughter went on her joyride.  It's a classic car and I plan to enter it in a few competitions.  Anyway, as for my daughter, I know she had a lot of fun-fun with it but she won't be driving it again any time soon.  She'll use our other buggy and leave my T-bird alone."
(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings) 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

192 Quiz Answer

Here’s the answer: William Shakespeare’s “Othello” is a classic tragic love story.  At the heart of the story lies a simple object, a handkerchief (“with a strawberry pattern”), that summons up ideas of love, broken promises and possible infidelity.

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "Q" is for Sergeant Quade)
Here’s this week’s Berownial quiz question.  I wrote the following scenelet thinking it might remind you of a famous Shakespeare play.  Which play?

On an important army base, the wife of the general pays a visit to Master Sergeant Quade.

“Sit down, please, sergeant.  This is nothing military; I just wanted to ask a favor of you.”

“Well, when you’re a humble soldier, ma’am, and the general’s wife drops in to see you, you have a tendency to stand at attention.”

“‘Humble soldier,’ Master Sergeant?  Everyone knows that you’re the one who really runs things around this base.”

“Always in the service of your husband, ma’am.  What can I do for you?”

“Well, this is going to seem odd.  It’s a bit embarrassing because it’s going to sound so trivial but believe me it’s important.”

“I hope I’ll be able to help.”

“Let me amplify.  It has to do with an item, a gift - in fact the very first gift my husband gave me, long before we got married.  It’s a handkerchief.”

“A handkerchief?”

“I knew this would seem rather foolish.  But it’s an unusual handkerchief; it has a special significance for both of us.  I carry it with me everywhere.  I’m almost never without it.”

“And now it’s lost.”

“Exactly.  I don't mean to moan about it, but you see it doesn’t have just sentimental value; it’s actually a kind of expensive work of art.  A silk handkerchief with a pattern of strawberries.” 

“Is it possible it’s not lost; maybe someone took it?”

“Yes, that thought had occurred to me.  I asked around and someone suggested, ‘Ask Sergeant Quade.  There’s nothing going on around the base that he doesn’t know about.’”

“I can see it’s important to you, ma’am.  I’ll do my best to find it.”

“And it’s important to the general; it’s like a fable, part of his Moorish background I suppose.  He expects me to have it with me wherever I go.  It sort of symbolizes our marriage.  It's not just that he'd criticize; he’d be very upset if I lost it.”

The most interesting thing about this conversation is that all the while Quade is talking with the general’s wife - he has the handkerchief in his pocket.

(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

191 Quiz Answer

Here’s the answer: The Pajama Game is a musical based on the novel 7½ Cents by Richard Bissell.  The story deals with labor troubles in a pajama factory, where worker demands for a seven-and-a-half cents raise are going unheeded.

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "P" is for "Bob Porter")
Here’s this week’s Berownial quiz question.  I wrote the following to see if it might remind you of a famous musical.  Which musical?

Friend of mine, Bob Porter, was hurt badly by the recent recession.

He was depressed.  No job, no money coming in; for him it was the old 1929 crash all over again.

He’s an old-fashioned type.  He still believes in trade unions, even though in our twenty-first century they seem to have lost a good deal of their power.

When Bob was a lad, and it goes for me too, unions ruled.  In some industries you couldn’t get a job if you weren’t in the union and the Catch 22 was that you couldn’t get in the union if you didn’t have a job.

I believe many folks think trade unions are now just a thing of the past, like running-boards on a 1930 Studebaker.  But they’re still around; they’re just not as sharp as they like to think they once were.  Bob, though, had hung on to his membership in his union – for what reason?  For la nostalgie, maybe, or perhaps it was like believing in a myth, a sense of loyalty to the old days.

But what do you know, it paid off.  He got a job, after months of no work, with a clothing manufacturer specializing in nightwear.  The pay certainly wasn’t great and the work wasn’t interesting, but it was a job.

As fate would have it, he had joined the work force of this company while all its workers were in the middle of a brawl with management about wages.  For some reason, very unusual for employees, they felt their work was worth more money.

Well, when Bob learned what their demands were, he nearly burst out laughing.  They were asking for an hourly raise of less than ten cents!  They were marching around, carrying signs, chanting slogans, all for the fuzzy goal of less than a dime an hour increase.

Bob thought this made little sense.  But one of the working stiffs explained it to him.  You’re right, he said, a raise of less than ten cents an hour is very little, almost nothing.  But give it to me every hour, forty hours every week, and that's enough for me to be living like a king.

(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

190 Quiz Answer

Here’s the answer.  In the Hitchcock film “Vertigo,” the character played by James Stewart is depressed because the woman who had been the love of his life had died the previous year.  He is therefore understandably startled to see her on the street one day, chatting with friends.
(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "N" is for "Nelson")
Bloggers did well with last week’s quiz; quite a number found it easy.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy, as Socrates used to say.  Wonder how they’ll find this week’s ?
Here’s the question.  I wrote the following, thinking that perhaps it might remind folks of a famous movie.  Which movie? 

I got quite a shock when I ran into Ron Nelson last week.

He had been one of those types who always seemed to be both cheerful and contented.  Not “I-just-won-the-lottery” cheerful; rather, “Things-are-going-along-okay” cheerful.

But last week he was a wreck, doleful and miserable-looking.  You know the old gag about the horse that walked into a bar and the bartender asked: “Why the long face?”

Well, it was daunting but I felt like asking Ron that same question.  But I shouldn’t joke about it because I knew what the problem was.

You see, Ron and his girl-friend Helen were the perfect couple.  There was not one of the characters I hung out with that didn’t envy Ron; Helen was just about perfect.  She was beautiful, no question about that, but she also managed to be fastidious, smart and somehow pleasant to everyone. 

Incredibly, she and Ron were to be married in just a couple of weeks when disaster struck.  Helen was killed in an accident.  That happened last year but obviously Ron has not gotten over it.  I can hardly blame him but still, it was a year ago.   

When we met last week he suggested we have a drink together; he wanted to talk.  It occurred to me that he should be talking with a professional, someone who could be of some help, but I thought I could at least listen.

In the bar Ron ordered some of the hard stuff, doubles, and began putting them away right off the bat.  After knocking back more than a couple, he proceeded to tell me a highly improbable story.

The conversation went something like this:

Ron: “I saw Helen last week.”

Me: “You saw a girl who looks like Helen?”

Ron (whose voice began to intensify with emotion as he spoke): “No, that’s what makes this all so difficult; it was her.

Me: “Listen, Ron, you had the greatest relationship.  It’s only natural that the memory of that poor dead girl would always be with you.”

Ron: “You don’t get it.  I knew you wouldn’t.  This was no look-alike, no memory and not a ghost either.  It was Helen!”

Well, I’m afraid I wasn’t full of help for Ron.  Outside of suggesting he slack off a bit from the booze I literally didn’t know what to say.

(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

189 Quiz Answer

Answer: The noted polymath, Benjamin Franklin, was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. 

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "M" is for "Master")
Speaking of clocks, and time, let me tell you about a couple of kids I find fascinating.

Meet Benny and Jenny, a brother and sister combo who lived quite a while back in time – two centuries or more in fact – and whose existence illustrates vividly what lives were like in those old days.

First, the boy.  As a kid he had a pretty dreadful time.  One of 17 – that’s seventeen – children (he was the youngest), he had to drop out of school at the age of ten and go to work.

But if he had it rough, consider his sister.   Girls then often didn’t receive much of an education; they had a different function.  They were supposed to have babies.  Sis complied; she got married and had twelve children.  She never got to do much of anything but take care of her kids.  After that she took care of her grandchildren and then of her great-grandchildren.  That was her life.

As for her brother, he handled the fact that he had little education neatly; he educated himself.  And he became a polymath.  That, by the way, is not a parrot that can add and subtract, it’s a guy who sustains mastery of a number of subjects.

He and his sister loved each other and wrote regularly over a period of many years.  Some say she was the only person he ever really did love.

As the word “master” suggests, he hastily went on to compile quite a resume.  He was a musician (who invented new musical instruments).

He wrote a regular column in a newspaper at a time when there weren’t many columns – or, as far as that goes, many newspapers.  He was a politician, an inventor and satirist.  As a scientist, he was a major figure in the history of physics for his discoveries regarding electricity.  He served his country as a diplomat.

He kept, in other words, fairly busy.

He was known for his many “sayings,” inspirational and motivational quotes about everything in life.  One I like very much could serve as a motto for us, today’s bloggers: “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.J
That's his bio.  What’s his name?

(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

188 Quiz Answer

In Shakespeare’s play “The  Tempest,” we are asked to picture a magical island on which we find a man named Prospero, who lives there with his daughter, Miranda.  He has a servant named Caliban, a wild sort of partially human creature who believes the island should really belong to him, so he spends a good deal of his time creating problems for Prospero. 

Dear Blogger-type friends:  It looks like the question this week is a bit too difficult.  Sorry.
We had a nice response for Robert Frost last week; few correct answers this week.  I’ll shift gears and come up with something more manageable for next Sunday.  Hope to see you then.  --Berowne 

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "L" is for "Lem")
Here’s this week’s Berownial quiz question:

Some people get everything handed to them.

There I was, working at the same crummy job for the past twelve years and getting essentially nowhere, when I learned that my old army buddy Earl had a relative who suddenly up and died.

If that sounds like a tragedy, it wasn’t much of one for Earl; the deceased was an uncle he really didn’t know very well.  However, due to the intricacies of inheritance law it seems that Earl was next of kin and he learned that he now had a house, along with a cash inheritance.

What a break that was!  After his wife left, he found he was a single parent trying to raise a sixteen-year old daughter, Milly, in what I believe are referred to as straitened financial circumstances – i e, not much in the way of actual dough.

He couldn't conceal a shock when Earl saw what he had inherited.  It wasn’t just a house; to a guy who had been living in a small apartment it was a mansion.  Three bathrooms, he kept saying to himself.  And each of the numerous rooms in the place seemed as big as his former apartment.  It wasn’t a just a break; it was a red-hot miracle.

To top it all off, it came with help.  There was a hired man named Lem who had been with his uncle for years, and in his will the old man had specified that whoever inherits his house should keep Lem on; this would be a plus because he knew the place so well.

Well, Earl thought that was fine.  He proposed to have the gardener/handyman do the necessary work while he concentrated on learning about fine wines and how to live like an alleged upper-class gentleman.

But there was a fly in the Pouilly-Fuisse.  Lem turned out to be difficult.  Oh, he’d do the work, but only with an avalanche of grumbling and by making it clear that whatever there was to be done could wait till tomorrow, or maybe like next week.  He showed little respect for Earl, though he was, of course, his boss.

From time to time Lem claimed that the old man had told him he would be inheriting the place - it was supposed to be his.  Earl just put up with this, thinking it’s the sort of thing people have to get used to once they’ve inherited a mansion.

But then things got even uglier with Lem – who was already ugly to begin with.  He had had his eye on Milly, the daughter of the house, for some time.  She reported to her father that he had made some “suggestions” to her, not all of which she had understood but was pretty sure they were unpleasant.

That tore it.  Lem had to go.

When I heard Earl’s story, I couldn’t help thinking it reminded me of one of Shakespeare’s best-known plays.

Which play?

(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings.)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

187 Quiz Answer

Robert Frost: “The Road Not Taken”

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;


Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,


And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.


I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "K" is for "Keystone")
When you try, really try…

When you do your best…

When you make a decision based on the best evidence available, and everyone thinks it was a poor decision and you are therefore roundly condemned for it – well, that’s pretty hard to take.

Don’t tell me it was an important occasion.  I knew that.  A get-together of the entire clan, all of ‘em, something that hadn’t happened for years.  And they were all waiting for me.

I was on my way, nonchalant, speeding along in my old jalopy, known affectionately to members of my family as “The Wheezer” because of the odd wheezing noise it makes when I shift from first to second gear (so I try not to do that too often).

I was carrying important cargo.  It was Grandpa Pittinger’s birthday and, as I said, the whole famdamily was in attendance.  Grandma Pittinger had ordered a special cake.  It had cost a fortune and I had been commandeered to go into the Big City to pick it up. 

It was huge (there are a lot of relatives) and on the way back it was sitting up front on the passenger’s seat, enjoying the view.

I had ten miles or so to go when I ran into a metaphorical brick wall.  I pulled up and stopped (the brakes working rather well for a change).

Truth is, I didn’t know these roads all that well.  It was never a problem because all I had to do was wait till I saw the signpost “Keystone Road” and then turn on it to take me to the Pittingers.  But some joker had uprooted the post and tossed it into the bushes.  So I uttered an earthy remark because I was now faced with a road that had suddenly become a couple of roads.  Question: which was Keystone Road?

I analyzed the situation.  One road looked as though it had more traffic on it, which would seem to mean it probably went to the next town.  So, on purpose, I took the other one.

Well, I guessed wrong.  After grotesquely wandering all over creation, I finally arrived with the cake, over an hour late, everyone glaring at me.  I explained about the missing signpost and that I had taken the road less traveled by.

Surely they should have seen it was not my fault, but they kept up with the glaring thing throughout the whole birthday celebration.

As for the weekly Berownial quiz, the above bit of whimsical fiction might remind you of one of our famous poets.  What’s his name?

(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings)
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