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Archive for March, 2012

Shmuck had always thought he was the most likely to succeed in his class. When he graduated with distinction he went to work for a gnome in Zurich. He slaved like a donkey to make the House of Black Friars the biggest bank. But one day he was shown the door. When he went out the portier feeling sad asked if he had thought of singing for his supper. Shmuck was an expert at it and he said, ‘Show me the color of money I will make my guitar weep.’ Finally he said, ‘I shall go to Bremen that lies at the end of the rainbow.’
That was how Shmuck hit the road. With a song in his heart and without a care except his severance pay and it weighed heavily in his pocket. Before long he met a fellow who sang only one tune and his imitation of Elvis Presley was fantastic. When he sang the number ‘Hound Dog’ even late king turned in his grave to say in sepulchral tone, ‘I am stoned, man!’. Poor ‘Bulldog’ Drummond was a private eye but the Eye in the Sky made his position redundant. ‘Technology stepped on my blue suede shoes.’ he confided in his new friend. ‘I am done in, friend.’
‘No you are not.’ said Shmuck.
Mr. Shmuck added, ‘We shall conquer Bremen!” Mr. Drummond didn’t know what was special about Bremen but the way Shmuck, the donkey described it,’ It was Graceland prim and proper’.
A little further the two came across a drag queen. ‘I am Meeow’ and asked them to follow the rules if they expected to conquer Bremen.’I am It to you but Alley Cat to others.’
The two were surprised that there were such rules for one who played coy and played like a jerk in next. ‘Meeow likes to purr!’ said It cheerily.
‘Can you sing?’
‘O I sing flat like no other!’ replied It coyly.
Any instrument?’
‘Just me and my Jewish harp!’
‘You will do’ said the other two.
In the town they came next was a popinjay and he strutted while they were supping in a roadside diner. They saw his outlandish dress and exaggerated manners and asked him to join them.’ I came to this town hoping to buy a suit most sober for an undertaker.’ He said, ‘I wanted this gray suit that I saw hanging in a shop window. Since buying it I got a funeral parlor as if I had pressed some magic button.’ He added how it got into his head to strut about like a rooster since every wish began coming true. He ended saying,’ I lost it all since townsfolk thought a high kicking undertaker who had a joke for every wake was giving death a bad name.’
‘Call Me Dude, the rooster.’ Dude wasn’t in the least bothered by his losses. As he said he intended to make his loss add to his personality. ‘But can you sing? They anxiously asked him. He said he was a rapper.
‘Some times I am adenoidal, but mostly I prefer off-key’ replied he.
‘I take the rap/ for the sick/ that so-ciety yiee yiee is,/Of course I am the sim-simp-tom!’
The three immediately took him. They didn’t know what he meant but it sounded very musical to them.
Thus the four went to a town and they said they should sleep early since they would be wowing the folks of Bremen next morning.
“All the more reason we should paint the town red.’ insisted Dude the rooster.
So they let Dude to arrange a card party. The inn-keeper said ‘you play but I take my cut’.
They agreed. Ten thalers a point they played for high stakes. The four musicians were losing like a roller coaster that had missed rail some hours earlier. The donkey whispered in between to ask Meeow if It knew what was going on. The drag queen threw Its hand and said,’ Even the folks from Bremen have come pouring to take us on.’ It was true. The news went around about four musicians who were hell bent to lose. ‘Ah this is the lowest form of self-advertisement,’ one worthy gent observed,’ they are bent on making the city of Bremen to sit and take note.’
The game was in full swing. He directly put a duffel bag full of money to play against the four.
The fellows of Bremen took turns to play against these four and in the end the four owed the city of Bremen 6 million thalers not counting the sundry losses the four had incurred in playing against other guests in the inn. Only the innkeeper seemed to be pleased. He had his cut while the four musicians played a losing game.
The Mayor after a week’s game stood up and demanded the four musicians to make good of their losses. ‘We won good and proper.’
Mr. Dude the rooster let out a cry ‘cock a doodle doo.’
When asked what he meant he said, ‘Nothing’ that will stand up in a court of law.’
The other three pointed to each other and said, ‘We shall sing for your suppers, considering you shall be kicked out of the City Hall for gambling away the reputation and assets’.
The folks of Bremen looked at each other angrily while the four musicians smiled. They knew all along they gambled for nothing. The good folks of Bremen were disappointed and angry.’ They surrounded the Mayor and their councilors saying, ‘You all are a bunch of crooks!’
In the end the four musicians of Bremen formed an association of sorts. They would help those who were thrown out of their office. They sang for their suppers at inns and the customers invariably paid up before they warmed up before tables. One thought their heart was in the right place but their sounds caterwauling.
The Four musicians survived in spite of this.
Years later they became the stuff legends are made of, but somewhat altered in the real facts. There is a famous statue commemorating the four in the city of Bremen.( based on an old German Tale)
(Posted here earlier-and in Elves Bells.)

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PRINCE OTTO EDUARD LEOPOLD VON BISMARCK (German)
(1815 – 1898)
Statesman.

The founder and first chancellor of the German Empire, was a political genius of the highest rank. At his best in foreign affairs, he was the principal architect of the age that gave Europe 26 years of Peace after the Congress of Berlin (1878). He was born on the 1st of April at Schönhausen, Brandenburg, former East Germany. After reading law Bismarck entered Prussian service and became a judicial administrator at Aachen; his conduct was unconventional and the criticism of his official superiors drove him to resign from service at the age of 24. In 1847 he became a member of the quasi-representative United Diet. Bismarck gained prominence in 1851 when he was chosen to represent Prussia in Federal Diet. In 1859 he was sent to St. Petersburg as ambassador only to be recalled in March 1862 and ‘sent as ambassador to Paris’. Finally, on September 22 he returned to Berlin to become Prime Minister devoting himself to the task of limiting Germany under Prussian leadership. In the war of 1866 he succeeded in defeating Austria and excluding it altogether from Germany.


He involved his country in the Franco-German War (1870-’71), a conflict that ended with Prussian success and a measure of unity. On March 21, 1871 Bismarck, now a hero, was created a Prince and appointed imperial chancellor. He initiated internal administrative reforms for the remainder of the decade, developing a common currency, a central bank and a single code of commercial and civil law for Germany. In foreign affairs he presided over the Congress of Berlin and this seemed to symbolize his paramount position as mediator between the great powers.
He was also the first statesman in Europe to devise a comprehensive scheme of social security, offering workers insurance against accident, sickness and old age. By 1890 his politics had begun to come under increasing attack, on March 18, 1890, two years after Wilhelm II’s ascension to the throne, Bismarck was forced to resign.
His last years were devoted to discrediting the Emperor and in composing his memoirs.

Bismarck’s most important legacy is the unification of Germany a task tried but failed since the formation of the Holy Roman Empire. Following unification, Germany became one of the most powerful nations in Europe. Bismarck’s astute, cautious, and pragmatic foreign policies allowed Germany to retain peacefully the powerful position which was however not possible as power was concentrated in the new emperor’s hands. Wilhelm I rarely challenged the Chancellor’s decisions; on several occasions, Bismarck obtained his monarch’s approval by threatening to resign. However, Wilhelm II intended to govern the country himself, making the ousting of Bismarck one of his first tasks as Kaiser. His Weltpolitik to secure the Reich’s future through expansion undid diplomatic feats of the Iron Chancellor. It would ultimately lead to World War I. It also made the Kaiser play into hands of the military whereas Bismarck’s policy was to deny them a dominant voice in foreign political decision-making. This was overturned by 1914 as Germany became an armed state; although the Emperor and his cabinet formally retained the power, military officers played an increasingly influential role in the Cabinet.
His Far-seeing vision
In February 1888, during a Bulgarian crisis, Bismarck addressed the Reichstag on the dangers of a European war.
He warned of the imminent possibility that Germany will have to fight on two fronts; he spoke of the desire for peace; then he set forth the Balkan case for war and demonstrated its futility: “Bulgaria, that little country between the Danube and the Balkans, is far from being an object of adequate importance… for which to plunge Europe from Moscow to the Pyrenees, and from the North Sea to Palermo, into a war whose issue no man can foresee. At the end of the conflict we should scarcely know why we had fought.”
Bismarck also repeated his emphatic warning against any German military involvement in Balkan disputes. Bismarck had first made this famous comment to the Reichstag in December 1876, when the Balkan revolts against the Ottoman Empire threatened to extend to a war between Austria and Russia.
Subsequently, Bismarck made this accurate prediction:
“Jena came twenty years after the death of Frederick the Great; the crash will come twenty years after my departure if things go on like this” ― a prophecy fulfilled almost to the month. ( ack:wikipedia)
(This a revised and expanded version of the pen portrait posted earlier.)
benny

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One Fox who wasn’t much of a public speaker and had no special gifts of entertaining the public knew he could still rise in political arena. He was of course was the Party Boss. He served the party Hide Low whose principles were much like any political party that took positions in the Agora and took public complaints. If one went in for non-payment of tax to the Treasury Mr. Fox would throw hints of those who were far greater culprits in avoiding paying taxes. He also would take out crowd wholesale asking them to praise the defaulter to the skies. The crowd chanting from the sunrise till dusk praised the fellow for his initiative and ability to make money. This party of Mr. Fox thrived in hiding low when their case didn’t win public favor.
One day this scabrous politician fell into a shallow well where all the muck the various political parties threw at each other ended. Unfortunately he could not jump that high from that city dump. Besides jumping made him get stuck deeper in the mire. So he went on singing some patriotic songs to rouse his drooping spirits.
‘When I am in the dumps/ Do I give up the fight as lost?
Oh No! I hit a high note: See what I mean?..”

A goat who was an actor of B-movies passed by and heard such spirited song. ‘The Hide Low Song!’ Mr. Goat stood to attention with his hand on his heart. The Fox sensed help was on way. So he asked, ‘Who goes there? Friend or Foe?’
‘A friend and patriot,’replied the goat. He leant over and Mr. Fox said without batting his eyelid, ‘Are you Reagan?’
‘No but an out of work actor.’
‘No you are not!’ replied the fox.
I am holding this place for one whom I promised the dictatorship of the polis.’
He said the fellow who was supposed to be made a dictator was long in coming. He talked with authority his power to make any one in that polis a dictator. The goat got interested and wanted to know if he were suited to the job.
The fox appraised him and said I was rather difficult to give an authoritative opinion from where he stood. ‘I tell you what,’ You come down, and I will study you from all angles. I shall set a few questions to sound your intellectual capacity to lead the people. Thereafter we shall see.’
The goat jumped in and said,’No nothing stands in my way to the top job but your report.’
Once the goat was in the dump the fox went around him sizing him up.’No, not bad at all.’ He was sure from above also he must be as good as face to face. He asked the goat to help him go above.
The goat leaned against the wall and helped the Fox to hoist himself up.
Once he reached the safety the Fox said, ‘Wait till I get the necessary order written to make you the dictator.
The fox of course made good of his chance and ran away.
benny

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