Sunday, October 25, 2015

291 Quiz Answer

The play is “The Taming of the Shrew.”  In the Italian city of Padua, a wealthy old man named Baptista has declared that no one may court his beautiful daughter Bianca until first her older sister, the ill-tempered Katherine, is married. 

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday; "P" is for "Pam")

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

Hi, welcome to the weekly quiz.  Who am I?  I’m Pam, a girl – young woman, to be accurate – who has a problem.
I’m about average height, a bit above average intelligence and a placid nature.  People tell me so often I’m beautiful that I’m beginning to believe them.  So I’ll say no more about that.
To top things off, my father – Popsy, I call him – has money.  Quite a lot of it.

Now, you’d think that a mademoiselle with a resume’ like that wouldn’t have too much trouble finding some cool dude to marry.  Well, dudes have come and dudes have gone, and I’m still sitting here, un – as the saying goes - attached.
This nondescript problem can be summed up very simply: my old man.
My father is the quirky old-fashioned type who believes that everything - manners, customs, even civilization - all stopped short a century or so ago.  In those days if you had a number of daughters your job was to marry them off, and to the right type of person.
But there’s more.  The eldest daughter had to have first crack at whatever suitor walked through the door.  The eldest, who happens to be my sister, had to get married first; then the youngest, me, would have her chance.
This may seem to you to be a reasonable plan, well thought out, so what was the problem?
Well, if my first problem was my progenitor, as I humorously refer to my dad, the second, the bigger problem, was my sister herself.
Oh, she was attractive enough.  And once the blokes in this town were aware that she had a huge dowry, they all came calling.  They’d come to visit, get to know her, and then they’d take off, like huge birds heading off into the sunset.
And we’d never see them again.
You see, my sis is a special sort of person.  My theory is that she’d love to meet a nice chap and get hitched, but basically she’s insecure.  She hates to appear vulnerable and weak, so she’s very sharp with her suitors.  She’ll casually toss off quasi-nasty remarks to some poor guy who’s just doing his best to please, and soon he’s looking around for the exit.
And as for me, I remain un – as I’ve mentioned – attached.

(The answer will be posted Saturday.)

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Berowne's 290

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

No quiz this week.

An amazing thing happened a few days ago.  A theatrical company – primarily a dance group, I guess  - started to perform right outside my window.

What a show!  What pirouettes and jetees, what whirling about!

But then I realized, it’s October.  Some stagehand had thrown a switch and the nearby trees suddenly filled the autumnal air with falling, dancing leaves.  It really needed some background music, something overwhelmingly classical.

This took me back a few decades, back to the days when American francophiles were fascinated by the work – the poetry and the films – of Jacques Prevert.

Of course, speaking of music, I thought of his song “Les Feuilles mortes” – “Autumn Leaves” – especially as sung by Edith Piaf and Yves Montand.

Prevert’s poetry holds up well today and is perfect for an October day.

“C’est une chanson qui nous ressemble,
Toi, tu m’aimais et je t’aimais.”

It’s a song that’s like the two of us,
You, you who loved me and I who loved you.

“Et nous vivions tous deux ensemble,
Toi qui m’aimais, moi qui t’aimais.”

And the two of us lived together,
You who loved me and I who loved you.

“Mais la vie separe ceux qui s’aiment,
Tout doucement, sans faire de bruit.
Et la mer efface sur le sable
Les pas des amants desunis.”

But life separates those who love,
Softly, making no noise.
And the sea erases on the sand
The footprints of lovers who are no longer together.

                                  Jacques Prevert, 1900-1977


Sunday, October 11, 2015

289 Quiz Answer

In the play “Othello,” Iago is a soldier who has fought beside his general, Othello, for years, and has become his trusted advisor. But at the beginning of the play, Iago claims to have been unfairly passed over for promotion; he plots to bring about the downfall of Othello.

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "N" is for "nefarious")

The following scenelet should suggest a very well-known play to you.  What’s the name of the play?

"You're still complaining?  Hey, you chose a military career and it isn’t really so bad after all.  But you don’t really agree with that, do you?”
“You bet I don’t.  Fifteen years of service, hellish battles and combat all over the world, risked my life dozens of times, and what do I wind up with?  Two metal bars and a few rows of ribbons – what good are they in civvie life? “
“Come on; you got your rank, not too bad a pay grade for retirement.”
“But that – that – is exactly the point.  I was due for promotion and now that wer're here in Cyprus they bring in this outsider.  He’s now the fair-haired boy as far as the general is concerned.  That should have been my job!  It was as though it had been promised to me.  For all practical purposes I already had it; the skipper depended on me for just about everything!”
“Yeah, I know.  I thought it was – well – unfair.”
“Unfair is the least of it.  For the good of the service you want experienced officers.  This guy, he doesn’t seem to have been anywhere or done anything, and he is now the right-hand man!"

"Relax.  It's not as though the general has committed some sort of nefarious act; he has the right to pick the man for the job."

"It's nefarious to me.  You know where he's from, the new guy?  From Italy, but most important, from Florence!”
”You know what they do in Florence?  They spend most of their time creating delicate art, making little objects out of spun glass and such.  That’s a warrior?” 
“You don’t seem to understand that in the military, politics often plays a more important part than experience.  You see, actually, he has been places and done things.”
“Yeah, like what?”
“Well, he’s been to the right schools, the right university.  He comes from an important family that seems to know all the right people.  And you – let’s face it – you never set foot in a university and not very many schools as far as that goes.”
“There was a time when a man who started at the lowest level and worked his way through all that greasy crap right on up to a commission, made the very best, the most experienced officer!”
“Yeah, yeah.  Listen, I’m on your side.  But this new guy has got the job.  It’s obvious that he’s the general's choice.  You should relax and just accept it.  A few years more and you can retire.”
“In the meantime I’m supposed to take orders from the likes of this – I don’t think I can stand it!”
“Hey, I hadn’t realized how much you were ignited by this.  You’ve got to calm down.  You’ll get yourself all worked up and maybe do something stupid to try to get revenge.”
(The answer will be posted Saturday.) 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

288 Quiz Answer

In Verdi’s “La Traviata,” a party is in progress at the Paris home of beautiful Violetta, who lives for such parties.  She thinks for a moment of the possibility of true love but laughs off the idea, declaring that her life will remain a whirl of pleasure (“Sempre libera” – always free).

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "M" is for "matchmaker")
This scenelet should suggest a well-known opera to you.  Which opera?

“You say he wants desperately to see me?  Who is this fellow?”
“He’s a friend of mine from the South.  He traveled all the way up here just to meet you.”
“You know how busy I am.  Much as I love to meet country bumpkins, I’ve got to get ready.  We’re having a tremendous party this evening, a huge blowout, the biggest of the entire season, and I'm absorbed with it.  People say I live for parties; well, tonight I’m going to prove them right!”
“Wait.  This is something special.  He’s a fine young guy I think you should get to know.  He thinks you’re the most wonderful woman he’s ever seen; he followed your career for years.  His name is Luther.”
“Yes, it would be something like Luther.  Or Li’l Abner.  He’s a groupie, in other words; that does sound boring.”
“He’s no groupie.  I know you’re going to find this a bit strange, but he tells me, and I believe him, he’s – well, he’s really in love with you.  Sort of by long distance.”
“That’s about the last thing I need in my life right now.  Sounds like you’ve been playing matchmaker behind my back.”
“No, not really.  But as your friend, I'm certain that one of these days you’re going to get tired of this glitzy life style and think about settling down.”
“Yeah, right.  That’s for me.  A fence with a white house around it – though I may have that a bit twisted – and me rocking away on the porch with one of my thirteen children.  Don’t you get it?  I don’t want that empty, settling down thing!  You know my motto, don’t you?” 
“I should; I hear it often enough.  ‘Sempre libera,’ always free.”
“Right.  And don’t you forget it.”
“Wait till you meet this young guy.  You’ve forgotten what true love is – maybe you never knew…”
 (The answer will be posted Saturday.)  
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