Sunday, September 27, 2015

287 Quiz Answer

In Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, in his lust for power, has his old friend Banquo murdered.  But Banquo later shows up at the banquet in Act Three.
(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "L" is for Leader)
The following should suggest a certain well-known play to you.  Which play?
What excitement was around my home last week!  The huge promotion I finally received was a life-changer.
And not just for me.  My wife got a big kick out of it too.  She immediately began thoughtlessly spending money like a sunken draylor and she scheduled a big banquet to which she invited everybody who is even remotely anybody.
Well, why not?  After years of struggle, I finally reached the position I believe I deserve.  Our family will be dodging no more bill-collectors.
Though frankly, I was a bit uptight about all of this because the cost of that banquet was kind of scary.  Two complete musical groups were necessary?  One hip-hop and the other string quartets?  (I’m not sure my wife is familiar with the word “pretentious.”)  The ice sculpture alone cost what once could have been a working-stiff’s annual salary.  Oh well, let her have her fun.  She put up with me through all the lean times in the past.
Say what you will, it was wonderful when the leading figures of our region arrived and told me how happy they were now that I’m the one in charge.  And then I proceeded to knock everyone’s socks off by serving them a banquet old Chef Escoffier would have been proud of.
Of course, the banquet could be criticized as basically political.  But then, what isn’t?  It was important to make sure everyone understands that now I very solidly occupy the job of leader - the leader - and that there are no challengers.  Also, I wanted to stamp out those ridiculous rumors that I somehow achieved my high position through some sort of skullduggery.
Yes, no question, it was a night to remember.  So why do I feel woozy and apathetic about it now?  Well, it’s because of Ed Bixler.  I know, I know; Ed’s been dead for quite some time.  But the point is, he was there, at the banquet.  I saw him.
This makes me feel weird and that maybe I might be drifting over into some kind of psychologically-disturbed mindset because – no one else could see him. 
The answer will be posted Saturday.



Sunday, September 20, 2015

Berowne's 286

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "K" is for "kickoff")

Berowne’s version of “Mad Men”

Ron: I guess we’re all aware of the reason for this meeting. We’re getting together tomorrow morning with a man who has developed an exciting new product, an item with fantastic potential, and he wants us to be his advertising agency. Take over, Blake.
Blake: Well, you saw the Powerpoint presentation. “Candy Babar” is being proclaimed as something revolutionary for this industry. An entirely new confectionery item, a new type of candy bar in the shape of the famous elephant – it's new in concept, new in potential, new in substance.

Ron: Right. This will be the kickoff.  It will be an honor for our agency to be associated with what is literally a revolutionary product. Why is Candy Babar revolutionary? It’s a candy bar that relies heavily on high-fructose corn syrup in a never-before-achieved solid and stable form – it’s a scientific breakthrough. By the way, be sure you get the client’s name right: R. Philip Dubieus. His last name is pronounced Doobyess; as he puts it, there’s an emphasis on the “yess.” I need hardly tell you there are to be no wisecracks about his name and the word “dubious.” And he likes to be referred to as “R. Philip.”

Blake: Yeah, we met him last year. Remember, Ron?

Ron: For those who are new with our agency, Blake is sarcastically referring to a meeting just like this one last year. R. Philip brought in his latest product, “Plumber’s Friend,” for us to evaluate.

Blake: And Ron evaluated the hell out of it.

Ron: Look, I’ve admitted it. It was pathetic. I told R. Philip that “Plumber’s Friend,” a candy bar in the shape of a toilet plunger, would never sell.

Edna: But the “Plumber’s Friend” candy bar sold like hotcakes. It was the most successful candy bar in the country for a while last year. And we told the client it would never sell. Who knows what kids are going to go for?

Ron: I’ll tell you who knows: R. Philip Dubieus knows. He’s a damn genius. He’s the Bill Gates of the confectionery industry. And he’s giving us another chance. This time we’re not going to drop the ball.

Norman: Or the elephant.

Ron: How does that help, Norman?

Norman: Sorry.

Blake: To top it off, we provided them with their motto – at no charge.

Ron: That’s true. During our meeting last year, as we were talking about the Plumber’s Friend candy bar, someone blurted out, “It’ll clean out your pipes!”

Blake: R. Philip’s lawyers have of course contacted the righteous estate of the folks who own the name “Babar.” They’re very interested and even enthusiastic about the possibilities.

Ron: Tomorrow we must put across to R. Philip that in our advertising, in all media, the good-health advantages of high-fructose corn syrup will be emphasized.

Edna: (Sighs) Just between you and me, why do we wind up with products like this? We never get something sedate and acceptable like Campbell’s Soup.

Ron: Campbell’s Soup may well be outsold next year by this tasty little pachyderm. If we play our cards right, Candy Babar will be paying the salaries of quite a number of us in this agency for years to come.

Blake: You’re actually enthusiastic about this product.

Ron: Well, I keep thinking about our Plumber’s Friend fiasco. I was wrong about that; I’m not going to be wrong about this. As for TV, R. Philip wants the television commercials to look like the movie “Avatar.” He’s very aware of what’s going on in the culture.

Blake: Is he aware of what’s going on in law-suits?

Ron: We’ll deal with that later.

Edna: From what I’ve read, he’s going to get an actual elephant, paint him white and walk him around to school assemblies and so on.

Ron: What can I tell you – the guy thinks big. Now, R. Philip has a sort of special request. He has a friend, a young lady named Brandee – Sandee..?

Blake: Mandee.

Ron: Right, Mandee; her name has two “e’s” at the end.

Norman: Bet that’s not all she’s got at the end.

Ron: I can’t tell you how great it would be, Norman, if you would just shut up. Mandee Mullen, that’s her name. She’s 19 years old and she thinks of herself as a writer; she wants to write the TV commercials. Er, you’ve got nothing to say about this, Edna?

Edna: I’m speechless.

Norman: So with Mandee, R. Philip has his own little candy bar…

Ron: What is the MATTER with you people! This is not a joke! You know what kind of year we just had. This wonderful new product, Candy Babar, is going to keep our ship from sinking. Enough with the wisecracks!

Norman: Sorry.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

285 Quiz Answer

It’s the story of Prince Hal, heir to the throne, who believed his father the King was too cold, too strict, and the boy felt the life of a young, respectable royal wasn’t for him. He became a wild dude, a type that I am led to believe may well exist in our time too.

What Hal really enjoyed was hangin’ with his fat friend Falstaff.  In the above picture, Falstaff is played by Orson Welles.  (From Shakespeare’s “Henry IV.”)

Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "J" is for "Jerome")

The following somewhat labored scenelet reminds you of – whom?

“Sit down, son.  Time we had another of our little talks.”
“We do have a lot of them, don’t we?”
“And they don’t seem to be doing much good.  No matter what kind of promises you give me, you don’t change.”
“Well, consistency, that’s a kind of virtue, right?”
“It’s not consistency when you step over the line and I find a police report on you when I come in to work in the morning.”
“A police report?  Oh man, what did I do this time?”
“It seems – I can hardly believe I’m saying this – you were involved in armed robbery.”
“What!?  That’s baloney!  Dad, I’ve never been involved in any robbery, armed or unarmed.”
“Well, they’ve got the gang who committed the crime and it’s the noxious gang you’ve been mixed up with.”
“Oh, I see what it is.  That was no robbery; it was just a sort of elaborate gag – that went kind of wrong.”
“A gag?  When are you going to grow up?  Since you were twelve years old I’ve been trying to groom you for the day when you could take over this enterprise.  But you keep acting like a wild, crazy kid.”
“Wrong.  I keep acting like most other young guys my age.  I like to have fun, hang out, meet girls, have a few drinks…”
“And rob people as a gag.”
“Again, I had nothing to do with that.”
“Well, who are the people of this gang?”
“It’s just some dudes I like to hang out with; it’s cool.  We have a lot of laughs and so on.  Nothing really wrong with that “
“And who’s this FJ?  Seems he was the one mainly responsible for the robbery.”
“Which, again, wasn’t a real robbery.  We call him Fat Jerome – or FJ – and I guess you wouldn’t approve of him.  He’s loud and obnoxious and usually pretty well hammered by noontime, and he’d make a good poster boy for Overweights Anonymous.  But basically he’s just a helluva lot of fun to hang out with.”
“Incredible.  The day will come, and it won’t be too long in the future, when you’ll be expected to sit in this chair and take over the operation of this entire enterprise.  And you’re training for this by spending most of your haphazard time with people who are pretty well hammered by noontime?”
“Dad, believe me.  I’ve been sowing my wild oats, maybe a bit too much, but I’ve never forgotten who my father is and who I am.  And what will be expected of me in the future.  When that time comes I will have said a long goodbye to FJ and the rest of ‘em.  I’ll be ready – seriously - and I’ll make you proud of me.”

The answer will be posted Saturday. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Berowne's 284

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "I" is for India)

Many years ago I had a most interesting lunch at an Indian restaurant.  In India.
To come right out with it, I enjoy Indian food; hit me with that tikka masala sauce or a carefully prepared curry or any of the four thousand or so other items of Indian chow and I’m a happy tandoori camper.
I found it fascinating that this particular restaurant was a place of tolerance and diversity.  By that I mean the staff was a sort of UN of different religions and beliefs, yet everyone seemed to be working in a high degree of peace and harmony.
And they were proud of it.  When they learned that the American customer was interested in such things, they came over to me, singly or in pairs, enthusiastically telling me about their religion and how well they got along with everyone else working in the restaurant.
There were Hindus, of course, and Muslims, along with Sikhs and Buddhists and a few glimmers of other faiths I wasn’t so familiar with.  (There was one chap who followed an unusual doctrine I did know a little something about: Christianity.)
But what blew me away was not just their pride in their beliefs but that they were also eager to tell how impartial they all were and how they worked together and got along so well.
Reason why this impressed me was that this all happened many years ago; in fact, I was there as the long British raj was coming to an end.  For several centuries the English had been involved in India –“the jewel in the crown” - and some folks believed that if the British left the various religions would fatally tear each other apart.  From the tolerance and cooperation I saw in that restaurant I was pretty sure that was not true.
How wrong I was…
British rule in the country came to an end just a few months after my meal at that restaurant.  Sort of as predicted, the religions began tearing each other apart.
Earlier, when I had been in Pakistan it was part of India; it was British.  Now it was a different country, a Muslim land.  Hindus by the many thousands had to get away, to go south; just as many thousands of  Muslims felt they had to go north to a Muslim country.
So many people ripped from their homes and forced to travel; it was the largest migration in human history.  The resultant slaughter of the religious fighting was almost unbelievable.  There were nearly a million casualties.
And it is indeed a sad fact that this – possibly a thermonuclear version of it this time - could begin again at any moment. 
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