Sunday, April 27, 2014

217 Quiz Answer


Act II of “Antony and Cleopatra”  CLEOPATRA's palace.

Enter a Messenger:

Madam, madam…



Horrible villain!  I'll unhair thy head.

 Cleopatra in “Antony and Cleopatra,” often behaves childishly and with relentless self-absorption; nevertheless, her charisma, strength, and indomitable will make her one of Shakespeare’s strongest, most awe-inspiring female characters.

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "P" is for Philadelphia)
I loosely - very loosely - based the following scenelet upon a famous character in a Shakespeare play.  Your assignment, if you choose to accept it is, which character?

(Mitch has lunch with an old friend, Gail, a young woman he’s known since high school.)

“How long have you been back in L A?”

“It’s been a week or so now.  Gail, I’m sorry I haven’t called.  They made me a department head and it's almost as if I were quarantined, I've been that busy.”

“Sure, but Mitch, you’re practically my oldest friend.  You could have taken just a moment to call and say you were back.  You know I always want to know what’s going on in Philadelphia.”

“Well, outside of the occasional acrid smell here and there it's a pretty fine town."

“What about other items of interest in Philly?”

“What do you mean?”

“You know dam’ well what I mean.” 

“Oh, him.”

“Yes, him.”

“Oh, Greg’s fine.  Didn’t see him much, what with me being so busy.  He seems to be doing okay.”

“He promised me he’d be back in Los Angeles in a month.  According to the date on the morning paper this is the sixth week.”

[Antony Pic 2, right]

“Gail, listen.  You know I don’t have any control over what Greg does.  I can tell you this.  He told me that the time he spent with you on the beach in Southern California was the happiest time of his life.”

“He said that – ‘happiest’?”


“It’s really wonderful I have a good friend like you I can talk to, Mitch.  You see, there’s this problem, the problem so many females are faced with.  If I call him, or email him, or whatever - which I’m dying to do - I come across as needy and someone to be pitied.  If I just sit here and say nothing, I come across as someone who’d just as soon forget the whole deal.”

“Well, Gail, I’m no Doctor Drew; I wouldn’t be able to offer any helpful advice.  There is something, though, that I have to tell you.”

“H’mm.  I don’t like the way this is heading.”

“He – uh – he met this girl.”

“I see.  What’s her name?”


“’Joanne.’  Sounds kind of frumpy.”

“Well, I guarantee that she isn’t in the same ballpark with you, as far as looks are concerned.  Greg told me you were the most beautiful girl he’d ever known.”

“So he stays in Philadelphia with Miss Frumpy?  How does that make sense?”

“Gail, here’s the bad news.  Joanne is the daughter of Greg’s boss, the CEO of the Corporation.  To be brutally honest, it seems that alone makes her very attractive.  So I’m sorry to be the one to have to tell you - they were married last week.”

What!  You came here to tell me Greg’s married?  I thought you were my friend!  I never really liked you anyway; get out of here - I wish you’d never called! 

“Gail, come on, don't get so dramatic.  I knew you’d be upset.  But you know the rule: don’t attack the messenger.”

“Who the hell else can I attack!?”


Sunday, April 20, 2014

216 Quiz Answer

Ezra Pound was one of the greatest writers of the past century, a major figure of the modernist movement.  There was Yeats, Joyce, Eliot – and Pound.

(Also for ABC Wednesday: "O" is for "orneriness")

I am a poet.


I am one of the greatest of the modernist movement.


One aspect of my work was to use ancient Chinese poetry as my source.  And in my translations I created a unique literary style.  As an example, take this poem to a little girl:


“Tree you are, moss you are.

You are violets with wind above them.

A child - so high - you are,

And all this is folly to the world.”     


I explained my method with Chinese poetry in this way: The blossoms of the apricot blow from the east to the west, and I have tried to keep them from falling,”


But just when you believed you understood me, the peaceable poet, I wrote this: ''Modern civilization has bred a race with brains like those of rabbits and we artists who have been so long the despised are about to take over control.''


And for sheer orneriness, this: ''The modern artist must live by craft and violence. His gods are violent gods.”

 So now…


Think on these things.  Think on the lightness, the delicacy of my poetry.


“A child – so high – you are.”


Think how I tried to keep the Confucian apricot blossoms from falling as they blew from east to west.


And think too…


That you kept me, certainly one of the greatest poets of the age, locked like a caged animal, in an actual animal’s cage.


And then answer this.


Who am I?


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Berowne's 215

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "N" is for "new")
From time to time, I’ve paused in my weekly quiz questions to write a little about some of my life experiences.  Folks have been kind enough to show interest in such posts, and Tess K. has been tolerant and welcoming – so here’s another.

Around the year 1950 television was just starting out as a mass medium.  And Berowne was just starting out as an announcer.   The fabulous salaries for tv announcers, by the way, were very much in the future. 

Here is a picture, taken aeons ago, of young Berowne, struggling to make a living on a new – also young, also struggling – television station.  As you can see, there was a sort of perversion of production values; it looked like they had just set up a flat and hung someone’s shower curtain on it.  That was it for set d├ęcor.

The TV show I emceed was titled the Weekly Starshine Theatre and it was a fairly grandiose name for what was usually an old cowboy movie, featuring old cowboys, which had been produced back in the days when a new and fascinating element – sound – had only recently burst upon the film industry.

Not many cinema folk of that early day understood much about sound equipment, which was why the actors in a film carried on impassioned conversations by shouting at each other, hoping they’d be heard by the mikes hidden behind flower pots and such.

But I couldn’t have cared less.  I was on TV.  Not many could say that.  Not many were watching, either.

The sponsor was a famous grocery chain and their ad agency had the idea that, in addition to dazzling our audiences with topflight entertainment, like wornout old movies, there would also be a weekly “live” feature.  In the moments when the film paused, I was to introduce each week a different actual grocery-store manager of the sponsor and chat with him on camera.  Who wouldn’t be interested in that?

So there I was, standing with that first week’s store manager, Herman Schlumpfbinder or something like that.  He had been given lines to memorize:  “Say, that was a corking good film,” he was to recite.  “It’s great to see the fine old movies!” 

I wondered which copywriter in the ad agency was responsible for the phrase “corking good.”  Who talked like that?  But I said nothing, thinking it was possibly some sort of secret store manager code that I didn’t understand.

Things did not go smoothly; they rarely did in those days.
I think it’s hard for folks today to realize what tv meant in that early era. It was all so newAs we waited for our cue I suddenly realized that Mr. Schlumpf-etc. did not look at alI well.  I could see that this magical new thing called television was just too much for him; he was overcome with stage fright.  He was clearly shaking and sweat was visibly pouring off him in rivulets.

I could have lived with that, but his condition affected me.  I feared what he might say or do and how I might have to respond.  I began shaking myself. 

Finally the cinematic masterpiece that was on the screen paused and I introduced my guest.  For a while he just stood there, staring at the camera, shaking and sweating and making odd little noises.  Then he pulled himself together and, suddenly animated, blurted out a single word: “Corking!”

I wondered what our TV audience, all two dozen of them, made of that.  Anyway, after that week’s episode the ad agency cancelled all future store manager interviews. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

214 Quiz Answer

Aaron Burr was the third Vice President of the United States; he served during President Thomas Jefferson's first term.  In 1804 Burr killed his political rival Alexander Hamilton in a famous duel. Burr was never tried for the illegal duel, and all charges against him were eventually dropped, but Hamilton's death ended Burr's political career.

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "M" is for "madness")
As you may be painfully aware, the U S political races seem to be in full swing.  TV screens present the usual eager candidates claiming that their opponents are listless, incompetent blackguards, among other things.

Of course, this is nothing new; such vituperation has been more or less normal for generations.  It got me to thinking of a couple of our political figures of the past.

I thought of two chaps especially.  As far as they were concerned, they proceeded normally with their careers; in other words they each spent a lot of the time trash-talking, as we say today, the other.

There was a slight difference, however.

In our time quite a number of folks have made derogatory remarks about our Vice-President and he has done what he could to respond to his critics. 

Politicians generally are accused of being moody, talking a lot and doing nothing.  So it’s fascinating that there was a part of our history when we had one Veep who did plenty.

As to whether this turned out to be good or bad, there is no question.  It was bad. 

He stepped over the line.  He broke the rule.

Written or unwritten – or both - it was a solid rule, and politicians then and now did not break it.

You see, he shot the guy who was responsible for most of the trash talk against him, shot him and killed him.

If this was a story happening in our time and written as a farce, the Vice President would have been cheered by many, or at least by the NRA, and perhaps he would have gone on to be featured on TV talk shows as a successful celebrity, later appearing on “Dancing With the Stars.”   J

However, in those benighted days there was no television and many folks, including even those who had been his most ardent supporters, turned against him.  "Politicians shooting each other; it's horrible, it's madness!" they cried.  "It's got to stop!"

Well, that’s the story.  I guess I should cut this short; I don’t want to incite any political types of our time into similar action.

As for the weekly quiz question, what was the name of the Veep?

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