Sunday, December 21, 2014

251 Quiz Answer

Answer: "The Merchant of Venice."  Portia welcomes the prince of Morocco, who has come in an attempt to choose the right casket to marry her. The prince studies the inscriptions on the three caskets and chooses the gold one, which proves to be an incorrect choice.

Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "X" is for "Expert"

(Another little scenelet that I thought might remind you of a famous play.  Which play?)

The Prince:  “They tell me you are the expert on these matters.”

Mr. Holzbein:  “Thank you, sire.  I have been – er – I believe I…  Forgive me if I’m a little nervous; I haven’t worked with royalty before.”

“Let’s put questions of rank aside for the moment.”

“Fine.  How may I be of help?”

“You’ve seen the three receptacles in question?”


“Well, I don’t know what to call them.  They look like jewelry boxes, though larger.”

“Ah, yes.  They call them caskets, sire.”

“Caskets?  Odd use of the term.  It makes you think if you open one you’ll find a small dead animal inside.”

“Ha.  I fervently hope not.  I have examined them carefully, thoughtfully.  You wish to know if they are authentic antiques?”

“No, no.  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  I don’t care if they’re antiques or they were made last Thursday.  I want to know what’s in them.”

“I see.”

“It seems I am being subjected to a kind of lottery.  Inside one of these three, er, caskets something is hidden that is very important to me, so I have to select the right one.  What’s inside the other two is of no interest.”

“And they cannot be opened?”

“That’s it.  I thought you might be able to suggest a way of divination – of guessing, in other words – which one I should choose.”

“That is indeed quite a problem.”

“One of them is brilliant, bright and shining and gold in color.  At first glance, it would seem to be the obvious choice, but…”

“Yes, but the obvious choice isn’t always the answer.  By the way, I noticed that one of them was old and kind of dilapidated – dull, worn out.”

“Yes!  Perhaps they’re using some sort of elementary-school psychology to get me to choose that one?  Or maybe to keep me from choosing that one?”

“Sire, it’s obvious that this is very important to you.  I feel I must  confess that I have no expertise in such lotteries so I should bow out.  I would hate to have given incorrect advice.”

“But how am I going to know what to do?”

“Well, there’s this: Berowne publishes the answer each Saturday.” 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Berowne's 250

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

No quiz this week; I thought I’d tell you about a strange, misty dream I had recently…

And what happens in the dream?  A ghost shows up.

“But I am not a ghost!”

“Yes, I can see that.  You appear to be definitely alive – corporeal.”

“Wrong.  I made sergeant last year.”

“H’mm.  We seem to be getting a little off-track.  You’re not a ghost, fine.  What exactly are you?”

“I am a muse.  I amuse myself by being a muse.  You get the play on words here?”

“Yes, pretty difficult but I figured it out.  So you’re a muse.  You wouldn’t by any chance be my muse?”

“Not by any chance, no.  This is what I was meant to be.  No chance about it.  What’s bad is that all the other muses get interesting subjects and here I am – with you.”

“H’mm.  And you show up here in my dream for what reason?  To assist me in my creative endeavors?  Isn’t that what you muses do?”

“I can just see you, sitting there at your computer, musing away, wondering as you muse, what do muses do?  Well, I’ll tell you; it’s a pretty dull life, waiting around endlessly to be called.  It’s sort of like living in the Department of Motor Vehicles, in a way.”

“Would you say you’re wackier than the average muse?”

“No, that’s not a word I would employ.  ‘Wittier’ - that would be fairly accurate.” 
“Let’s get around to the reason for your current visit.” 
"Yes.  Today I speak to you as your muse of decades past.”

“The Dickens you say.  Then in some other visit you’ll be my muse of the future?”
“What!?  How did you know that?”

“Actually, it’s a pretty well-known story.”

“I never heard of it.”

“It’s obvious you don’t get out much.  According to the story, you’ll tell me about all the glaringly bad things I did in the past and then later, depressingly, about all the bad things I’ll do in the future.”

“That’s it.  As you see, my job is to encourage you.”

“But it doesn’t seem to be turning out that way.  It would appear that your job is to make sure that I don’t start enjoying life.”

“Well, according to Mother Muse Superior, the leader of our group, enjoying life is bad for creativity.  And if there’s one thing Mother Muse knows, it’s how to keep someone from enjoying life.  I speak from personal experience.”

“Well, you tell Mother Mouse – er – Muse that your visit was successful and you did a great job of encouraging me.  I am now approaching despondency.”

“Wonderful.  I’ll use that in my resume’.” 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

249 Quiz Answer

“Carmen” is the story of the downfall of Don José, a naïve soldier who is seduced by the wiles of a fiery Gypsy.  It was originally a story by Prosper Merimee and later made into an opera by Georges Bizet.

Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "V" is for "Valiant"

(I wrote the following scenelet, thinking it might remind you of a well-known story.  Which story?)

“I can’t believe this.  Lieutenant Diaz is leaving the service?”

“Yes, Colonel.  He won’t be talked out of it.”

“Incredible.  He has a chance for a distinguished army career.  I know his family; can’t imagine what they’ll make of this.  What's the reason?  Has he become a drunk?"

“No, and he won’t tell me his reason.”

“Well, if the papers haven’t gone in yet there’s still time for you to talk him out of it.”

“As you can imagine, sir, I’ve tried.”

“Try harder.  He’s one of the best young officers we’ve got.  You can't be lethargic about this.  Sit him down and hit him hard with the whole story of patriotism, history, honor, service and all that.”

“Maybe you can talk with him, sir.  You’ve got the voice of authority.”

“No, it’s not appropriate for a colonel to plead with a lieutenant to stay in the army.  You’ve got to do it.”

“I’m not sure what it might take to convince him.”  


“Why, pour it on!  When you, Lieutenant Diaz, wear the uniform and salute our flag, you stand for centuries of tradition; you must always remember the glory days of the 16th and 17th centuries, when the Army of Spain was the most powerful and prestigious in Europe!  It is your chance now to be heroic, to be valiant!"

“Yes, that’s good, but…”

“But what?”

“Well, Colonel, truth is – it all seems to be because of a woman.”

“Ah.  Cherchez la femme, busque a la mujer, to be blunt about it.  I’ve seen this before.  Poor Diaz has fallen for a ritzy, high-society senorita who won’t have anything to do with him because he’s a lowly lieutenant.”

“That’s not quite it, sir.  The girl in question isn’t exactly high society.  In fact, she’s a gypsy, a dancer.”

“A gypsy!  He’s going to leave a splendid military career for a – a gypsy!  That’s incredible.”

“It is indeed, sir.  But as I mentioned, he won’t be talked out of it.”


(The answer will be posted Saturday.)
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