Monday, March 27, 2006

Shakespeare's Three Little Swine

Shakespeare’s Three Little Swine

Once upon a time there were three little swine, Aragon, Barnardo and Caesar. They set out to seek their fortunes and after journeying for many a day, became weary from their travels, so each determined to build a house.

Aragon, remembering the comfortable barn of his youth, built a house of straw. His brothers mocked him and attempted in vain to dissuade him from this foolhardy endeavor. Aragon resisted their arguments forthwith, saying, “Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.”

“O, what swine dare to do!” exclaimed Barnardo to Caesar as they continued on their way.

Barnardo built a house of sticks, certain the jewel of the tree wouldst serve him well. Caesar scoffed at his brother’s efforts, snorting with disdain, “What light through yonder window breaks? Thou shalt catch thy death before the morrow.”

Barnardo’s anger burned in his breast, “Is this a dagger I see before me?” he threatened.

“Cowards die many times before their deaths,” said Caesar, and left Barnardo to his own devices.

Caesar built a house of bricks. And though it was difficult work that required much patience, to Caesar it was a labor of love. After many days, the house was finished and the pig made merry with a feast of apples and pomegranates. But he had too much wine, and in a drunken stupor, climbed to the roof, raised his cloven hoof in arrogance, and shouted, “A plague on both your houses!”

On the morn, Aragon heard a rapping at his door.

“Who is’t?” he asked.

“It is I, Sir Beowulf, Lord of Gretel, Knight of the Red Hood and Duke of Earl. Open this door and let me in!”

“Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin!”

“Then I’ll huffeth and I’ll puffeth and I’ll bloweth your house in!”

Aragon anxiously paced back and forth, “Now is the winter of our discontent!” he moaned. And before he could say “Beware the ides of March,” Sir Beowulf had blown down the door and gobbled him up.

Barnardo heard a rapping at his door anon.

“Who is’t?” he asked.

“It is I, Sir Beowulf, Lord of Gretel, Knight of the Red Hood and Duke of Earl. Open this door and let me in!”

“Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin!”

“Then I’ll huffeth and I’ll puffeth and I’ll bloweth your house in!”

Barnardo fell to his knees to beseech his God, “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below; words without thoughts never to heaven go.” And before he could say “Out, out, brief candle,” Sir Beowulf had blown down the door and gobbled him up.

Ere long, Caesar heard a rapping at his door.

“Who is’t?” he asked.

“It is I, Sir Beowulf, Lord of Gretel, Knight of the Red Hood and Duke of Earl. Open this door and let me in!”

“Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin!”

“Then I’ll huffeth and I’ll puffeth and I’ll bloweth your house in!”

“Wherefore, thou roguish knave?”

“I’ve come to eat Caesar, not to praise him.”

And with that, Sir Beowulf huffed and puffed … and puffed and huffed … blowing with all his might, but he could not topple the swine’s abode. He thus devised a plot, “Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie.”

Inside the house, Caesar heard noises on the roof. Sir Beowulf must be trying to gain entrance through the chimney. So Caesar prepared a fire in the hearth and placed a large kettle on the heat, chanting as he stirred, “Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble.”

With a loud splash, Sir Beowulf fell into the steaming kettle, screaming in agony, “This was the unkindest cut of all!” And before Caesar could say “He’s mad that trusts in the tameness of a wolf,” the villain was cooked and ready for the dinner table.

It was a bittersweet feast as Caesar recalled the fate of his brothers and wondered, “When shall we three meet again?” Nevertheless, the swine lifted his golden goblet and proclaimed, “All’s well that ends well.”

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Go Fish

Wyoming is known for its beautiful sunsets, magnificent wildlife and 100-mph gale-force winds – but hubby and I wouldn’t live anywhere else. We are just two hours away from a scenic mountain lake, where every summer we enjoy trout fishing. Hubby has the edge on me in this department. He’s been fishing since he was in diapers. I’m not kidding. His mother showed me the baby pictures.

We had taken many fishing trips as a family when our kids were small, but all I remember about those times was washing dirty little hands, wiping dirty little faces and threatening dirty little tykes with death by Frank Sinatra all the way home if they didn’t behave.

When the kids grew up and flew the coop, I realized that hubby and I needed something we could enjoy together ... and so I began to take my avocation as an angler seriously. I wanted to learn everything there was to know. “Fishing For Dummies” became my essential bedtime reading. When I got to the part about “what to wear,” I was thrilled! Now I had an excuse to buy a whole new wardrobe.

My first purchase was a wide-brimmed hat, which served two purposes: to prevent sunburn by shading my face, and to keep water from dripping down my back in the rain. My hat looked like the one Clint Eastwood wore in “Fistful of Dollars” … I even had a poncho. All I needed was a cigar.

I later bought a pair of waders, which I used only once because I was terrified of stepping into a hole and drowning. I remember standing in ice-cold water up to my waist, casting a fly rod and glancing back toward hubby who was on the shore yelling, “Keep going, Sweetcakes! You’re not out far enough!” I wondered if he was trying to get rid of me, but the intense look on his face revealed that all he really wanted was for me to hook a 23-inch brown.

I’ve been fishing for a few years now and have become a pretty good fisherman. I know my strengths and weaknesses. Strengths: not afraid to bait a hook, can identify different fish species, and know the best music to listen to in the car on the drive to the lake. Weaknesses: talking too much, talking too much, and talking too much.

One of our most memorable trips took place last summer. We arrived at the lake and began lugging our supplies (tackle box, fishing rods, and boloney sandwiches) to our favorite spot. Most people fish on the grassy slopes near the campgrounds and picnic tables. Not us. We trek to the other side where boulders jut from the steep bank and where garter snakes, muskrats and killer dragonflies hang out. Indiana Jones territory.

This is our usual routine: Hubby rigs up the tackle for both our lines while I wait patiently, sipping my Perrier. I’m no good with knots and we both know it. Like the Gentleman he is, hubby fixes mine first so I can start fishing. On this particular day we had been fishing for an hour with no luck. Suddenly the feeding frenzy began … for the fish, not me, although I had already consumed a Snicker bar and half a can of Pringles.

I was sitting on a large flat rock singing “Witch Doctor” and when I got to “ting tang walla walla bing bang,” my rod suddenly flew out of my hands and started floating out to sea. I jumped up and grabbed it. “I got a bite!”

But hubby had his own problems. He always uses two rods; one propped on a forked stick jammed into the ground, and the other rigged with a spinner or a fly so he can cast and reel … cast and reel … cast and reel … ad infinitum. The unattended rod was jerking wildly at the same time he got a hit on his fly. He said, “Grab that rod!” But I was too busy trying to reel in Jaws.

I played the fish until he wore himself out, and when he was within a few feet of the bank, I netted him. A four-inch rainbow. I named him Jerry, took his picture and threw him back.

Meanwhile, hubby had set aside the rod with the fly and picked up the other one, which was still jerking. When he reeled it in, there was no fish and the bait was gone. To non-fisher-people that would have been bad news because the fish got away. To us it meant the fish were biting.

Excitement ruled as we quickly baited our hooks with night crawlers and some pink gunk called “power bait,” a horrible-smelling substance that looked very much like play dough. As soon as our lines hit the water we had nibbles.

Hubby: I got a bite!

Me: Me, too!

Hubby: It’s gotta be at least 15 inches!

Me: Mine’s probably 20!

Hubby: Yeah, right. Remember Jerry?

Me: How can I forget.

Hubby: This one’s a fighter! Look at him jump!

Me: Hey, your line’s crossing mine!

Hubby: No, YOUR line’s crossing mine.

Me: How can you tell?

Hubby: Trust me, I know. Duck underneath my line and get on my other side.

Me: (Making my way underneath his line) The rocks are slippery.

Hubby: You’ll be fine. But keep your line tight.

Me: (Stumbling over the rocks and landing on my rear in ice-cold lake water) Jiminy Crickets, that water’s cold!

Hubby: Good job, Sweetcakes. The lines are clear. Now start reeling!

Me: (Struggling to stand up) My fish is gone.

Hubby: There’s plenty more where that came from.

Me: (Snort)

Hubby: Hey! I lost mine, too!

Me: There’s plenty more where that came from.

Hubby: (Snort)

The fish were biting … but we kept losing them. They were teasing us; jumping just fifteen yards from the bank and swimming so close we could count the pinstripes on their Armani suits.

As quickly as it had begun, it was over. The waters were calm; the fish had eaten their fill. They were probably gathered at the local underwater saloon boasting in their victory.

We fished a couple more hours with no luck. As we walked back to the car, we greeted other fishermen with stringers full of rainbows, browns and brookies. The only fish we had caught was the tadpole Jerry.

That day, we had battled nature and lost. But there would be other days … other fish … other boloney sandwiches. During the long drive home, we sang along with Frank Sinatra.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Adventures of Sedentary Man!

It was a dark and stormy night in Fester City. Edgar Potts was lounging in his recliner watching “Everybody Loves Raymond” while eating Cheetos out of the bag. His orange-crusted fingers reached for the remote; he’d seen this episode before.

As he flipped through the channels, he was compelled to stop at an infomercial for the “Go-Flex Ab-Master.” A hard-bodied, six-pack-abs, jock was demonstrating how the machine worked. To Edgar, the contraption looked like a medieval torture device. He kept looking for the spotter, whom he was sure would be a 300-pound, six-foot-five-inch, bare-chested goon, adorned in a black hood and brandishing a cat-o-nine tails.

At that exact moment, thunder rolled and lightning flashed. Edgar went to the window, the remote still in his hand. Before he knew what happened, a bolt of lightning broke through the glass and zapped the remote. A stream of blue electricity charged through Edgar’s hand, up his arm and into his brain. Edgar was thrown back into his recliner, unconscious.

When he awoke several hours later, he noticed something strange. His right hand had transformed into a television remote. The muscles in his arms and legs had atrophied, taking on the appearance of limp spaghetti noodles. His belly had grown to the size of a beach ball. Edgar had become . . . Sedentary Man!

He had power to switch channels and control DVD and video viewing on televisions, computer monitors, cell phones and PDAs throughout the world.

With this power he could protect the delicate psyches of teenage-hoodlums by virtually eliminating their ability to watch reruns of “Gilligan’s Island.” Women would no longer be at the mercy of soap operas, sexist TV commercials and Oprah. Of course, as Sedentary Man, Edgar would make sure every man in the universe had access to every sports program in existence 24/7.

Edgar noticed his superhero costume lacked a leotard, a mask, boots and a cape. But he didn’t need them. Instead, his outfit was quite simple: gray sweatpants and a t-shirt that said, “Watch It.”

After all, the clothes make the man.

Everything I Know About Life I Learned From the Marx Brothers

When invited to a dinner party always bring your own silverware. Hide it in your sleeve.

Being the “dummy” in bridge is a good thing.

You’ll get far in life if you know how to sing like Maurice Chevalier.

Wiggling your eyebrows lowers your blood pressure.

Never leave the house without a trench coat, top hat and a bicycle horn.

In the event of war, inspire the troops with a “hey nonny nonny and a ha cha cha.”

Get a leg-up on the competition.

When at the opera, don’t forget to bring popcorn.

Expand your horizons by hiding in closets.

If you want to impress people, speak with an Italian accent. Use this phrase at least once: “Dat’s a-right, boss!”

Never pass up an opportunity to play patty-cake with a gangster.

Don’t be a finicky eater. Flowers, thermometers and saucers are quite nutritious.

Push a doorbell and run.

“Sweet Adeline” sounds best when sung crouched inside a barrel.

Make sure no one’s watching when you cheat at solitaire.

You can always count on your brother to light your cigar with a blowtorch.

Marry for money.

Never stiff the bartender at a speakeasy.