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Archive for January, 2009

A Musical Joke©
Arion was the most celebrated musician in his time and he served Periander, the despot of Corinth. After serving him for long he took leave for a certain period. First he sailed for Sicily and went though Italy where his musical gifts earned him great wealth. Then it was time for him to return to the court of his master. He took the same Corinthian vessel on his way back. During his long voyage the crew seeing all those wealth in his possession planned to kill him and divide the money among themselves. That night however Arion saw in a dream a dolphin and it said to him, “ Your life is in a danger. Let us play a musical joke on the villains who are steering your course to a watery grave.” Next morning the crew approached the musician and said, “Kill yourself if you want a burial ashore. Or we will throw you overboard.” Poor Arion of Methymna! He was terrified of water. Much more was his terror to be carried around as a carrion in a ship. So he agreed to take his chances with a watery grave. “Before I jump to my death let me at least sing a farewell song to you. Thereafter you may do what you will.” He put on his costume and gave a song to them. Then he leapt into the sea. The ship with the villainous crew sailed onwards to Corinth.
Arion struggled to keep afloat and at last he felt drowsy and he would have perished but a dolphin  appeared out of nowhere  and it said, “Sing a song so I may be cheered along”.  Arion sang a song as he had never sang before. After he finished the dolphin observed, “ That song you sang for the crew was delectable but infinitely sad. How come you now sing a song of such cheer?” Arion eyed the approaching coastline and he could see the familiar features of Corinth and said, “Out there I sang to the band of thieves as though my life was pouring out of me, syllable by syllable. Literally. But you made me sing as though life was being poured on me.”
Arion after landing ashore went to Periander who didn’t believe his story.  He called the captain of the ship to the palace and asked what befell Arion. The villain replied that he left the singer safe and sound at Tarentum in Italy. At that point Arion appeared before them and the Captain could not believe his eyes. The Despot said, “ You and your crew are worthy of death. I shall spare you if you can sing for your life. Lives of your crew depend on you.”
Poor Captain, he just croaked. Periander had them killed for their villainy.
Since then sailors would rather sing shanty than solo. (ack:Herodotus-The Histories)
benny

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Here I have sketched the opening sequence. Jean Vigo didn’t live to see the film as it is available now. When you study frame by frame you are able to appreciate more of the art than merely a story. The plot is very simple and yet Jean Vigo was able to create a masterpiece with his innovative approach to the medium. Later a movement would arise by a group of film makers who looked to Jean Vigo as their inspiration. New Wave is history now but L‘Atalante, as a film has lost none of its power to move us.
Opening shots describe the wedding of Jean, the ‘boss’ of the barge L’atalante to a girl from the village Corbeil on the Seine. His mate Papa Jules(Michael Simon, in an unforgettable role) and the kid are introduced right in the beginning.
b.
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MR.LAZYBONES AND THE WISHING TREE ©

Mr. Lazybones went in search of work. “A new town is coming up beyond this river,”he heard the people say. ‘But I thought economy was in bad shape?”
“I too heard but never trust rumors,” said one as he passed by. He moved on. When he crossed the river there was quite a crowd. They were all excited. Lazybones smiled to see everyone happily jostling one another. Watching them he brightened up. He had enough time to try his hand in some diversion before he settled down for good. He knew it was his last chance. He heard a fellow grumbling,”A reg’lar scrimmage! Can’t believe my eyes!”
“I always wanted to try my hand at scrimmage.” Said he.
He would have made a dash past every other but a man blocked his path. He sat in front of a table and he gave such a look Mr. Lazybones thought rugby was not as he thought it ought to be.  The burly man in a dirty overalls, “Have you got your pass?”
Mr.Lazybones looked here and there. “What are you looking at?” The man with dirty overalls asked him.
“ But where is the ball?” He replied. He said,”You mean football?” He leant towards him and said,” Work is what you find here!” Lazybones instantly knew he was a hard taskmaster.” I thought of a forward pass. Intead I find work. Impossible!”
He was about to leave but the man said, “ Why did you come here in the first place?” Mr.Lazybones said he was greatly mistaken. “Watching the crowd was fun. Following a rumor also also up my alley.” Mr. Lazybones grumbled,”But I’ve had no idea it shall lead to this. So soon!”
Thus Mr.Lazybones turned away. He went into the plains. He walked for sometime. The sun was very hot. He wished for some shade. Surprise! Surprise! A tree grew up instantly. It went on growing till it reached the clouds. “Ah I shall sleep for a while.” Mr.Lazybones yawned and he stretched himself. He could not sleep. So he said, ”I wish this tree would fan me while I sleep. What is the use of a tree which cannot be of use to man?”
Luckily it was a wishing tree. The tree began swaying at his command. Murmur of leaves was like a lullaby and he could not help smiling. It brought back memories of good old days when he was put to sleep in a cradle. Every night. He would have said to the tree, ”You are like my mother.” But he was too sleepy and he slept off.
BOiiinG!
Mr. Lazybones got up with a terrific headache. He was annoyed. He looked around. He saw the cause for his headache. A coconut had fallen on his head. He said to the tree rather angrily. “You may rock me to sleep but do not let coconut fall on that account! My head is all too tender. ” The tree went on swaying.
Mr.Lazybones would have gone back to his sleep but again another coconut fell. This time it fell with a thud on his shoulders. He sat up rubbing his bruised shoulder. “Didn’t I tell you..?”
The tree said, ”I am a wishing tree. There is one who asks for my favour.” Angrily Mr.Lazybones looked around.
One man lay a little away from him. He looked as if he had settled himself comfortably well. But he was sheepish to make his request,”Say fellow, you have two coconuts. Be good enough to pass one. I am thirsty!”  Rubbing his bruise Mr.Lazybones asked,”Who are you?” The newcomer still lay stretched out. “It is a bother getting up. Please bring one over.” Mr.Lazybones remained still where he sat. “Can’t you do a favor?” He queried. Mr.Lazybones was still angry. “Who do you think you are?”
He introduced himself,” Mr. Good-For-Nothing. That is my name.”
Mr.Lazybones hated to keep his anger for long. He was about to toss one over. “ Please,”said Mr.Good-For-Nothing, ”While you are at it save me the bother of cutting it open.” He was so angry that he almost choked. Mr.Good-for-nothing said casually, ”Why get angry? You are close to the wishing tree. You ask it to open.  And it is done.”
Mr.Lazybones realized that he had found his match. And he did not like it one bit.

benny

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7.
One day the boy, Pheidonides said he was alone in the wide world. ‘No one cared if I lived or died,’ he said. Aesop let him speak. The boy explained that since he considered himself not responsible for his little brothers he came to the conclusion there existed no reason why should others care if he existed or not. Aesop explained how the world was connected by means of an example.
“When eagles fly the wild hares sunning on the rocks run as fast as their legs can carry. If hares run what will a tortoise do? He thinks hares are running to spite him. So he also sprints not realizing he is clumsy. He is bound to slip and fall over. “Sad uh?” Aesop asked: ”with his heavy shell he merely scratches the air; helpless he is.” The boy said, ”If I were there I would set him right.”
“Why would you want to do that?”
“I think of Creon whenever I see a tortoise.” Aesop didn’t press the obvious. For he knew the boy already had sensed the connection.

8.
When Aesop told Xeno the cynic about his discourse to the neighbor kid Xeno said, ”What, are you partial to the tortoise? The poor eagle has his mate and a brood of chicks to feed. Think of their state if every one had the same notions as you?”
“Xeno,” Aesop said, ”you are right. Eagles with red talons and beak also have their place in the scheme of things.”
“I did not think you would agree so quickly!”
“ You are right but you miss the whole picture.” Aesop said, ”It is the duty of every living being to preserve the right to life in others. Speaking of the right no more compassion can be shown than when one is helpless. Compassion is the means to provide equal chance for the birds of prey and tortoises. Equal chance, Xeno”
Xeno agreed.

9.
It was evident Xeno had given much thought to the last discussion he had with Aesop. “But you did not get equal chance. Neither did I.” Xeno explained in so many words about his past. He was the second son who merely replaced the one who died before. He said, ”I knew I was not loved for what I am.” Controlling himself he added, “By the time my younger brothers came my parents were cured of their folly and they got their share, alright.” Suddenly Xeno fell silent.
“Yes, my friend,” Aesop explained, ”there is so much ignorance and cruelty. Those who ought to have loved and cherished us merely failed in their duty. We came into this world naked and dispossessed already. It is the law of deprivation at work. We had no choice in the matter. Did we?” Xeno shook his head.
“It is random and an accident. Why make it worse by feeling sorry?  The law of deprivation entitles us to another law.”
Xeno shot up his eyebrows.
“Yes. Law of Compensation.” Aesop said, ”Whatever good comes your way you have earned it. How I came into the household of Iadmon was not how I went out.”
“You are still cash strapped,” Xeno asked, ”Aren’t you?”  “Yes,” Aesop said, ”Making riches was not how I wished to be compensated.” Aesop realized life compensated him only in directions he sought to remedy his wants.
He told him a story to illustrate it.  An Argive went in search of gold after hearing of a gold rush in the neighborhood. He came to the right spot all right. But he was too late. So many had before him panned gold from the rocks and so quickly too, and had exhausted the deposit. So he went on in dismay not knowing where. He stumbled upon a field strewn with bodies of men and horses. A bloody carnage the battlefield had witnessed and he was the only living person there. The Persian army lay dead in their rich apparel and armor before him. He picked as much gold plated helmets and body armor, not to mention swords with handles studded with precious jewels. He brought home a fortune! There was gold much more than he would have ever picked from panning. Was he wrong if he treated his find as compensation for his trouble?
10.
The city of Athens was electrified by the news. The Battle of Salamis was fought and the City drew some kind of shock that converted each citizen. A new confidence was evident everywhere. Aesop had put himself for the war effort and Basileus relieved him for the purpose. Because of his lameness he could not do active service as a foot soldier. When Xeno asked him if he was disappointed he said, ”Oh no! I do not care for the glory of a war but it is necessity to put myself to the cause of Athens.” With a smile he said, ”The commander who saw me awaiting marching orders said, you will not do, son. Your bad foot shall not hold up other soldiers.”
“Law of compensation at work I see!” The cynic said. Aesop continued, ”I spend part of my day copying orders in a clear hand. My commander says he is satisfied with my work. My beautiful hand must serve instead.”  (Selectd from The Life of Aesop-Ch.8, pages 147-151)

benny

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