Sunday, May 31, 2015

272 Quiz Answer

In “As You Like It,” a chap named Orlando is in love with beautiful Rosalind.  He writes poetry that he hangs on trees for her to find.
Orlando is one of the few Shakespeare characters to be named after a Florida city.
(The above sentence is an attempt at humor and may be ignored.)

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "U" is for "Ulrich")

The following scenelet should remind you of a well-known play.  Which play?

“Looks like you’ve been up to your old tricks, Ulrich, making a mess of things.”

“I’m sorry to hear you say that, sir.”

“You must hate this school.  It’s as though you’re trying to get thrown out.”

“Oh no, sir.  I deeply love the school.  I – er – don’t have it quite clear in my mind just what rule I seem to have broken.”

“The rule is, don’t make a mess of things!  The Dean is almost frantic, very upset.  It would appear that you don’t have much of a future in this institution.”

“Again, if you could let me know just what…”

“Go outside and look!  The quad is supposed to be immaculate.  Those trees are the pride and joy of Dean Dirksen and they’re just covered with – with detritus!”

“Ah, I see.  But that’s not detritus, sir, whatever that is.  It’s a new project of mine for English Lit.”

“You’re doing an English Literature project and you don’t know what detritus is?  It’s litter, Ulrich, it’s rubble.  And you’ve covered the Dean’s trees with it.”

“Well, hardly ‘covered.’ sir.  There are just some pieces of paper on the trees; that’s all it amounts to.”

“I’m afraid to ask this, but why in God’s name would you be hanging pieces of paper on trees?”

“Well, I became absorbed in this idea for a new way to submit a paper in English Lit.  Innovation is important, sir, as you know.  I would write some poems on small pieces of paper – haiku, sonnets, villanelles, whatever – and instead of turning them in during class I’d sort of post them on the trees in the quad”

“Well, that is an idea, Ulrich, though possibly the dumbest one I’ve heard all year.”

“But you see, sir, there’s a reason.  Truth is, I have fallen in love with a beautiful girl named Madge in my Social Studies class.  I wrote all the poetry for her.  She’ll come across my poems in the trees and she’ll be thrilled.  So this will accomplish two things: I’ll get to know her better and when I submit the verses in my English class I should get a special grade.”

(Dryly) "Yes, I believe you will.”

(The answer will be posted Saturday.)


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Berowne's 271 Quiz

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "T" is for "trouble")

For my quiz question this week I take the liberty of using something I posted years ago, because I wanted to see what the answers might be today.                             

Let’s go back a number of decades, back to when I first entered the service. I had a friend in boot camp – let’s call him “Ed” because that wasn’t his name – and we hung out a lot, talking about what we might do in the future.

One day, after we had finished boot camp, he confessed something to me. He was very excited about it. He knew it should be kept secret, but he just had to tell someone and he felt he could trust me.

It was a plan Ed had been working on for quite a while. Well before he joined the Navy he had been visiting a small city located in the central part of our state. What was unusual about these visits is that he had managed to obtain a uniform of a lieutenant-commander, complete with service and combat ribbons, and he illegally wore this when he paid the visits.   
In that community there weren’t many military types and very few Navy personnel – and no shore patrol. A Lieutenant-Commander, especially one with a couple of rows of ribbons, was privileged to be everywhere. He had visited some local church affairs and other such functions and had managed to meet a beautiful girl.

Quite unbelievably, after a number of dates he had proposed and the girl, undoubtedly a bit dazzled by this remarkable young naval officer, had accepted. Her folks had met him and had welcomed him enthusiastically into the family.

Now that Ed was out of boot camp, he was actually going to go up in his fake uniform and marry her.  He had managed to convince everyone there that his folks were in Africa doing some sort of relief work, so they wouldn’t be able to attend the wedding.

It all seemed weird and unreal. I wondered what I should do.

A: Should I call this family on the phone (I knew their name so I thought I could get in touch with them) and tell them that their future son-in-law was no heroic naval commander but an ordinary sailor of the lowest rank?

Or B: Should I notify the military authorities that there’s a guy illegally roving about that area in a fake lieutenant-commander’s uniform?

Or C:  Should I just sit down with Ed and try to talk him out of it, to convince him that he’s not only going to be causing misery and a lot of trouble for the girl and for her family, but that he’s heading into a lot of trouble himself.

Or D: Should I just ignore it all, figure it's stale news and try to forget about it?  After all, the marriage might turn out well; the couple might be happy together, even after it came out that his officer’s commission, and his ribbons, were phony - but that seemed highly unlikely.

Ed and I received our assignments and we went off in different directions so I heard no more from him. As far as I know, the wedding took place on schedule; I have no idea how it turned out.

But my weekly quiz question is really about you. What’s your opinion? What would you have done in such a situation?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

270 Quiz Answer

Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin, born in 1869, was a Russian peasant who became a mystical faith healer  for the RussianTsar's family.
(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "S" is for "scoundrel".)

The following scenelet should suggest a well-known historical figure to you.  Who is it?

“Sir, I’ve prepared a complete report on Brock, everything he’s been doing for the past month along with a lot of intimate background information.”

“Fine.  I know I asked you to do all that - and don’t worry you’ll be paid – but the situation has changed.”

“Changed?  How?”

“As you know, I was convinced that Mr. Brock was a total phony, a sort of con man, but it turns out I was wrong.”

“Well, that’s interesting.  Our investigation convinced us that a total phony is exactly what he is.”

“I know, I know.  But results don’t lie.  He can actually do what he claims he can do.  He worked what was practically a miracle on my son, who as you know has been sick for most of his life.”

“What do the doctors have to say about Brock?”

“The doctors!  Don’t get me started on the doctors!  For years my wife and I went to the best medical specialists in the country and they all said the same thing about Jimmy – sorry, but there’s nothing we can do.”

“And this character, who sort of walked in off the street, cured your son?”

“Not completely.  But when Brock used his unique faith-healing skills Jimmy suddenly got much better.  My wife is overcome with gratitude.  Finally, someone who can actually do something!”

“Sir, I’m sure you know that any serious illness can have brief periods of remission.   Sounds like Brock got the benefit of one of those periods.”

“Don’t try telling that to my wife.  She’s been thirsting for years for an effective healer.”

“But surely someone should tell her that he has no medical training; in fact, he wasn’t able to finish high school.  He’s barely literate.  As far as his position in society is concerned, the guy is just another low-class scoundrel.  He has used this faith-healing routine in the past on a number of people.”

“What do we care about his past?  It’s something to watch him in action.  First off, he’s impressive just in his jagged appearance - he’s six-four or something like that - and you can see he has unusual powers when you get a glimpse of those amazing eyes of his - hypnotic.  And he has a unique language he uses when he’s doing his healing.  My wife is convinced that this is someone who has extraordinary gifts.”

(The answer will be posted Saturday.)   

Sunday, May 10, 2015

269 Quiz Answer

Candide is the writer Voltaire’s bitter but humorous criticism of power, wealth, religion and, of all things, optimism.  The story follows the adventures of Candide, a young man in love with a woman of a much higher social class. When their love is thwarted, Candide lives through a series of ludicrously awful events in order to be reunited with his sweetheart.
(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "R" is for "remarkable")

Now, here’s a piercingly sad story if there ever was one.

It’s the remarkable tale of a young fellow who had all kinds of luck, most of it bad.

Funny thing; thanks to a generous noble patron, a baron, he grew up in comfort in a wealthy home and he had a fleshy tutor who had a very positive view of things.  He tried to instill in the young guy a belief that this old world is pretty great and whatever happens is for the best.

For a while that seemed to be true.  Our boy fell in love with the baron’s beautiful daughter and went so far as to kiss her once, but this got him kicked out of the house.

From there things sort of went clean downhill.

He was drafted into the army and got beaten regularly, so he went AWOL.  While he was on the run he saw his old tutor, the whatever-happens-is-for-the-best guy, who now had an STD and was begging in the street.

To top things off, he learned that the love of his life, the baron’s daughter, had been killed by enemy soldiers.

This would have discouraged just about anyone, but the young dude decided to go on.  He went to Portugal, for some reason, and arrived just as a massive earthquake, one of the largest in history, kind of wiped out the entire place.

But it wasn’t all bad.  He learned the good news that his girlfriend had survived the murder attempt; the bad news was that she had become a slave in Turkey.

And you think you have problems.

Anyway, in his peregrinations our boy had managed to accumulate quite a few pesetas, francs, marks and whatever, so he was able to go to Turkey and buy his girl’s freedom.  However, what with all she had been through she was pretty much a wreck.

The remarkable end to their story?  They bought a small property and spent all their time doing farm work; somehow this made them happy.

Please give us the name of the young guy.  (If you want to also give us the name of the girl as well as the name of the author of this incredible story, pray do so.)

The answer will be posted Saturday.  

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Berowne's 268

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "Q" is for "Queenie")

No quiz this week; just a little story...

“What does it say?”

“What does what say?”

“On the cup. The words on the cup.”

“Oh. ‘Winner, First City-Wide Dance Contest’”

“So it definitely says ‘winner’? Then we’ve got a problem.”

“Let’s go over this carefully again. The whole point of this dance contest was that it would be great publicity for Mabel Carswell, who as you know may be our next mayor. Her daughter Stella was to win and the two of them, Mom and daughter, would be writ up in our weekly Tribune and be seen holding the winner’s cup.”

“Right, and everyone understood that.”

“Evidently not everyone. Then, once the election was held, I was assured that I would be appointed City Manager. But now someone has messed up and allowed somebody else to win! You simply can’t depend on people anymore!”

“Well, it wasn’t that they were allowed to win. That girl Queenie Hasenlaufer and her partner were simply the best dancers.”

“What has that got to do with it? My job – and yours, as far as that goes – depends on Mabel’s daughter Stella winning that cup. Now, start thinking; how can we fix this?”

“Okay then, how about this? Those cups only cost thirty-five bucks. We could buy another cup, inscribe on it ‘Special Award’ or some such thing and give that to Queenie and her partner. The winner’s cup would then go to Stella and Mabel would be happy.”

“I don't mean to linger over this, but Stella didn’t win. An unimportant point to us, but it’s of great interest to the residents of our fair city.  There’d be rioting in the streets if they thought we were trying to pull something crooked.”

“Well, who let this happen? Who were the judges? Don’t they know anything about politics? We spent thousands of dollars putting this dance contest together for one reason, as support for Mabel Carswell’s campaign, and we didn’t blow all that dough to give an award to someone named Queenie!”

“Let alone someone named Hasenlaufer.”

“That's Phil; he always has an impulse to say something.  Thanks, Phil. You’ve made your contribution. Now go sit over there.”

“Suppose we let it leak out that someone has stolen the cup, since it is so valuable. So the dance festival authorities, who are you and me by the way, have decided that the only fair thing to do is to acquire another cup and award it to both Queenie and Stella. They’ll be co-winners. Queenie will ultimately get the cup to keep and Stella in the meantime gets her photo op, holding the dam’ thing with her Mom for the local media.”

“You don’t know much about Mabel Carswell, do you? The only thing that would mean anything to her would for her daughter to win – which is what I guaranteed her would happen. Way things are going, someone else is going to wind up as City Manager and I’ll be back to convincing folks that they may be able to save fifteen percent on their car insurance, like that little green rodent on TV.”

“Well, as far as I can see, that ‘co-winner’ solution is all we’ve got. How about it, Phil? Have you got anything else to suggest?”

“Well, in hauntingly tight situations like this it was always encouraging for me when I remembered what my Dad used to say: When the tough get going – or when you go getting tough – something like that, whatever – but it was always encouraging.”
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