Sunday, June 29, 2014

Berowne's 226 Quiz

Sorry, folks, my 'pewter had a breakdown so I had to release the answer early.  It's "The Glass Menagerie."

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "Y" is for "Yvonne")

I wrote the following scenelet, thinking it might suggest a well-known play.  Which play?

(The living-room of Fred’s house.  Time: the 1930s.)

Fred:  Alan!  Glad you could make it.  C’mon in.

Alan:  Wow.  Really freezing out there.  Glad to be where it’s nice and warm.

Fred:  Here, let me take your coat.  Oh, this is my sister Yvonne.

Alan:  Didn’t know you had a sister, Fred.  Glad to meet you, Yvonne.  How are you?

Yvonne:  Hello.

Fred:  Good, Yvonne.  You handled that well.  I suppose you want to get back to your work, right?

Yvonne:  Yes.  (She leaves)

Alan:  Nice girl.  Maybe a bit too talkative.

Fred:  Ha.  Truth is, she’s shy.  I mean, really shy.  One of the reasons I wanted to invite you over to meet the family was I hoped you might chat with her a bit so she could get more used to talking to guys.  She finds it too difficult as it is.

Alan:  Wait a minute.  Maybe there’s a bit of a misunderstanding here.  I had no idea you were asking me over to set me up with your sis.  I have a girlfriend, Fred.  You know that.

Fred:  No no, it’s not like that.  Let’s see if I can explain.  You see – truth is, I love my sister.  I’d do anything for her.  Her shyness keeps her at home so she never gets out to meet people. 

Alan:  I see.  Well, sure, I’d be glad to talk with her.  What is she interested in, mostly?

Fred:  I guess you could say it’s education.

Alan:  Well, I was interested in education, a little anyway, back in grammar school.  The interest sort of dropped off when we got to long division.

Fred:  Ha.  Her interest is different.  She might not want me to divulge this information, but she has constructed a little one-room schoolhouse, very small and even sort of insignificant, and has filled it with students and a teacher, and each one of them she made herself. 

Alan:  So she has a hobby.

Fred:  Yes.  We’re not sure if it’s good or bad, but she spends many hours at her schoolhouse.  She’s not really interested in much else.

Alan: Well, you know, Fred, working together at the shoe factory you and I are both finding out the world’s a tough, godless place.  If Yvonne can make her own little world, nicer than the one outside, maybe that’s not such a bad thing?

(The answer will be posted Friday.)




Sunday, June 22, 2014

225 Quiz Answer

The Book of Genesis is the primary source that mentions the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  According to the story, Divine judgment by God was passed upon the two cities, which were completely consumed by fire and brimstone.
(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "X" is for "Exit")

I wrote the following scenelet, thinking it might suggest a familiar story from the Bible.  What story?

“I don’t want to have to tell you again. You’ve got to get your things together now so we can get out of here!  We’ve got to make our exit.”      

“This is all so strange...”

“It’s more than strange; it’s dangerous. We’ve only got another half-hour or so before the whole place blows up. Where are the girls?”

“Well, they’re trying to get their things together too. It’s awful that we have to leave; they’ve been doing so well in school and of course they have their friends here. And I've got a week's food in the pantry."

“You just don’t get it! This is risky, a life or death situation! We should have been on the road an hour ago.”

“How did you learn about this – this emergency? Nobody else seems to know about it.”

“I haven’t explained it because it would take too much time, and you probably wouldn’t believe it anyway. But did you see those two strange-looking men around here this morning?”

“They’re from out of town, aren’t they?”

“Hah, you could certainly say that.  From way out of town. They aren’t really men, you see; they’re angels.”


“Right. You know what’s been going on in this place, all the drinking and carousing and screwing around and God knows what else. Well, Yahweh sent these angels to see if there are a few righteous folks in our town.”

“Who sent them?”

“Yahweh – you know, God.”

“This is all very weird.”

“The idea was that if there were at least ten righteous men in this place it wouldn’t be destroyed. Well, these two fellows – er, angels – couldn’t find even ten, so the whole area is in jeopardy, it's going to be blown sky high.”

“How will – er, He – do the destruction?”

“Not sure. Something to do with fire and brimstone, I suppose.”

"I've never really understood just what brimstone is, actually."

"Well, let's not wait around to find out.”

 “Oh, dear. I so like this place.”

“Yeah. A real fun town.  It's cathartic; there's been too much fun, as it turns out.”

“So where are we going?”

“I have been told that we can be safe if we get well outside the city limits. Ah, here are the girls. Seriously, my dear, we've got to get started.”

“It’ll be sad to leave. In spite of its rather racy reputation, I’ve really enjoyed living here. There’s a hill on the road out. When we get to the top of that hill, I’m just going to have a good look back at our dear old town!”

(The answer will be posted on Friday.)


Sunday, June 15, 2014

224 Quiz Answer

A Midsummer Night's Dream portrays the events surrounding the marriage of the Duke of Athens, Theseus, and Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons.  These include a group of working stiffs - Shakespeare calls them “rude mechanicals” – who struggle to produce a play as their part of the ceremony.  Among them is the famous Bottom the Weaver, who is later turned into a jassack.

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "W" is for "Whalen")

I wrote the following scenelet, thinking it might suggest one of the Shakespeare plays.  Which play?

Jim: This meeting better be important.  We got three more trucks to load and they gotta be ready to roll out tomorrow morning.

Pete: Right.  We’ll keep this short.  As you know, our CEO is getting married next week and they’re planning a special ceremony for him.  Couple of the departments will be doing some stuff so I thought we could do something too.

Dan: Why?  Mr Whalen is up there on the top floor.  He never comes down to shipping to see what we do.  I don’t think he knows we exist.

Pete: Well, here’s your chance to let him know.

Fred: We’re supposed to perform - sing and dance?

Pete: No.  Mr. Whalen studied classics in college.  He’s very familiar with classical drama, the playwrights from ancient Rome and Greece.  So I had a great idea.  He’d be absolutely bowled over if some of his employees, blue-collar guys, connived to do a scene from Euripides for his entertainment.

Jim: Are you kiddin’?  Maybe bowled over from laughing, more like.  We ain’t actors; we’re working stiffs. 

Dan: There's a certain amount of intrigue here; you got this idea because you think it’ll make you look good to Whalen. 

Pete: It’ll make us all look good.  Now come on, here’s your parts all typed up. You’re going to get a kick out of this once you get into it.

Fred (vehemently): What’s this?  I’m supposed to play a lion?  Forget about it; there’s no way I could remember my part.

Pete: I figured that, Fred.  All it consists of is roaring.  Anyone can do that.

Jim: Why do I have the feelin’ this is a disaster lookin’ to happen?

Pete: If we all get together and work as a team I know we can do a good job.  As I said other departments will be doing something for the occasion too, but if we concentrate on this and rehearse it well we can knock the socks off everyone there.

Dan: They can keep their socks on, far as I care.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Berowne's 223

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

I had a strange feeling when I saw the prompt of a tape machine.  Years ago I owned a TEAC just like that one.  "Where are the tapes of yesteryear?"

Speaking of the past, I was glancing through the paper recently and I saw an article on the actress Mariska Hargitay.

Suddenly I was thrust back a half-century or so, back to when young Berowne was trying to make it as a film maker – documentaries and commercials to order.

I found myself sitting in the dingy waiting room of a small company who had called me there because they needed a film made and I had promised that I could offer something most others couldn’t: I worked cheap.

Hey, working cheap is how you got started.

The place was the Superior Welding Alloys Company and I was hurriedly reading their brochures in an effort to learn what welding alloys were.

Don't mean to gripe but their waiting room was undistinguished, to say the least, so I was sort of amazed to find myself sitting next to someone who was also waiting there to see about a job.

Amazed because she was a young woman about whom it is no exaggeration to say that she presented a spectacular appearance.  In the parlance of the time she was a knockout – not the type of person one would usually find waiting to see about a job with your average welding alloys firm.

We got to chatting – after all, she learned that I was a film producer but how was she to know I was just a beginner? – and she told me of the plan she had carefully worked out to become famous.

Later, when she was known to just about every sentient life form in the land, she seemed to many to be playing the role of a dumb blonde.  But her earlier university grades proved that she had been an intelligent student.

She said she wanted fame.  She wanted to be known.  She wanted stardom.  The agents she had contacted had been unimpressed.  They stalled, wouldn't send her out on a call-back.  Sure, she was something to look at, but it seemed she was not all that special when it came to singing, dancing, acting, etc – the things agents were usually looking for. 

She felt there was a crisis.  She sat down and carefully evaluated herself and decided that since the agents weren’t doing much for her, she’d do this fame thing herself.  She had a small inheritance so she made it her job to spend her days methodically going around to companies – not the big corporations but rather the smaller outfits – and explaining to them that she was available as a model for any of their advertising or promotional photography. 

She didn’t have to be paid much, in some cases nothing.  She just wanted lots of pictures of herself published; she thought this way she’d become known.

Well, it worked.  She gradually became Miss Photoflash, Miss Direct Mail, Nylon Sweater Queen, Hot Dog Ambassador, Miss 100% Pure Maple Syrup, Miss Potato Soup and a page-full of other such titles.   And she got parts in a few films.

She achieved victory: she became known to just about everyone in the country.  Her name was Jayne Mansfield.

Our story takes a dark turn.  In the middle of a June night in 1967, Jayne and her family were being driven to New Orleans when they crashed their 1966 Buick Electra into a huge tractor-trailer that had suddenly slowed in front of them.  She and two others were killed. 

Her three-year-old daughter Mariska survived the crash.  You may be familiar with Mariska Hargitay.  Google tells me that she is best known for her role as NYC Detective Olivia Benson on the NBC television drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a role that has earned her multiple awards and nominations, including an Emmy and Golden Globe.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

222 Quiz Answer

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, leader of the Salt March, was known for the practice of non-violent civil disobedience; he inspired movements for civil rights and freedom around the world.
(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "U" is for "united")

Back in the 1930s there was a remarkable example of non-violent protest that became known around the world.  I wrote the following scenelet in the hope that it might suggest that event. 

“Who was that on the phone?”

“The leader of the march.  He wants a meeting with you.”

“The nerve of that guy.  He knows what he is doing is illegal.  Tell him that when he stops breaking the law we’ll sit down and talk with him.”

“Stop grumbling; that isn’t getting us anywhere.  The movement is going on and it’s definitely growing in size.  They’re united; more people are joining every day.  We can’t just sit here and do nothing.”

“So what do you suggest?  We just throw over the rule of law to satisfy some malcontents?  You can’t run a country that way.”

“This is becoming a nation-wide cause; they've formed a bond.  The media is taking their side and it’s gotten international; several other countries are supporting them.  I’m all for taking a strong stand when we’re dealing with something important, but to go to battle over an item as trivial as this – it’s a bit crazy, in my opinion.”

“Well, luckily your opinion isn’t what counts.  You think this thing we’re talking about is trivial?  Look up the numbers, do the math.  Over time the tax we’re talking about on this adds up to a huge amount of money.  Our government isn’t about to just give up that kind of dough.  They’ve placed us in charge to keep that tax in place, keep collecting it.”

“There’s a bit of news that came in this morning that might make a difference.  The march is heading for a specific place, the sea.”

 “They’re all going surfing?”

“Ha.  Very funny.  This is going to be a media event, one of the biggest in our country’s history.  Newspapers and newsreels are going to cover it.  You see, thousands of these people, united, will be marching a couple of hundred miles, more joining them all along the way, and when they get to the ocean they’re going to collect some seawater and let it evaporate.”

“That too is illegal!  We may not be able to arrest all of them, but we can certainly put the leaders in jail.”

“But don’t you understand?  Everyone will see how silly this is.  All you have to do is evaporate some seawater and you’ve got the stuff that is causing all these problems.  It's painless.  No one has to buy it or pay any tax on it.  We’re going to look ridiculous.”

“H’mm.  You say the leader wants to talk?  Well, it’s against everything I believe in, but go ahead, set up a meeting.”

The question this week: who was the leader?
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