Movie Two-Liners Entry #34

September 30th, 2009 by Wordsman

This week’s puzzle:

A retired teacher makes a detour in the middle of a long trip to visit a former student. His most recent pupil runs away before he can meet the former student, and when they next encounter each other, the new student’s friend has to come in and separate them.

Last week’s puzzle:

A male condemned for attacking a woman escapes capture and ends up in a place he’s never been before. There he travels for a while with a group of naïve mendicants and helps to topple two of the most influential figures in the region.

And the answer is . . . ▼

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This Day in History Entry #33

September 29th, 2009 by Wordsman

Cleveland’s Indians received much praise
In the Series, thought they’d New York daze
Victor Wertz hit a blast
It went far, almost past
The outstretched glove of one Willie Mays

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Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? Entry #34

September 27th, 2009 by Wordsman


“I should have known this would happen,” Matthew grumbled.

Matthew had lost his friend.  The moment the possibility of pirate treasure came up, Jack had, as expected, gone a bit berserk.  The search for a shovel, metal detector, wheelbarrow, and all the other tools of the amateur treasure hunter immediately became paramount.  Unfortunately for Jack, since Ostia Antica was primarily a sleepy archaeological dig site, they did not have any of the items he was looking for, at least not in a place where an ordinary tourist could get his hands on them.  Thus the radius of the search expanded rapidly, to the point where Matthew was no longer able to keep up.

He was not, however, overly concerned about Jack’s disappearance.  Sure, Jack still had the only key to their hotel room, but Matthew was confident that he would be able to find him at the end of the day when he needed to.  His friend had never been good at keeping himself hidden.  In addition, despite Jack’s frantic desire to find a shovel no matter how long it took, Matthew was confident that his friend would not get far.  For an amateur treasure hunter, Jack had an astonishingly poor grasp of maps, and since his skill with the local language was juvenile at best, Matthew could not see him managing to figure out a train or anything else that would take him out of the area.  There was always the risk that Jack would attempt to do something foolish, but as he himself had said, there was no one around, so what could he do?

Matthew had other things to worry about, anyway: he was searching for the person in gray.  Although he grumbled out of habit, for once Matthew was actually pleased that his friend had managed to disappear.  It made hunting for the gray-clad figure much easier when he did not have to explain to Jack what he was doing or make up a semi-plausible excuse to avoid the question.  He was free of distractions.  Ostia Antica was deserted.  It was just Matthew and the person in gray . . .

. . . except that it wasn’t.  Unlike Jack, Matthew could not feel that the site was empty, because he kept drifting back into the past, when it was not “Ostia Antica” but just plain old “Ostia.”  To him the port was still alive.  The buildings were whole, the streets were teeming with activities both legal and otherwise.  On the one hand, this meant that for Matthew the site was interesting enough to not require inventing a phony hunt for pirate treasure.  On the other hand, it wasn’t at all helpful if you were trying to find something.

Matthew groaned.  He supposed that he should not really have been surprised.  Earlier, when he was attempting to forget about the figure in gray and focus on the past, the modern world had constantly intruded on his thoughts.  Now, naturally, the opposite was true.  It figured.  Every time he tried to peer around the corner to catch the person that had been pursuing him, he ran into a shady merchant sailor trying to sell him a special salve that could only be found in the distant reaches of the forests of Germany, presumably because in any other location it would have been considered poisonous.

Even when Matthew was able to clear his head and return to the present, a different sort of distraction was there to plague him: doubt.  Part of him believed that he had no reason to think that he could catch the person in gray even if he could devote his full attention to the problem.  The kind of person who behaves like that, said a voice in the back of his mind, is the kind of person that is very good at not being found.  Matthew tried to argue that he had spotted the figure a couple of times already, but he countered that seeing someone for a moment through a crowd is very different from being close enough to actually communicate with him.

Matthew was forced to admit that this was true, but a few moments later he rallied, saying that he was giving way too much credit to this mysterious figure in gray.  He had no reason to believe that this was some sort of James Bond-like super spy.  Why would a person like that be following him?  Again, the counterargument came right back: You have no reason to believe that any sort of person would be following you, by all normal logic.  And yet here you are.

Eventually, Matthew was forced to concede that he was right: his chances of finding the figure in gray were next to nil.  Even if this person wasn’t expecting Matthew to be looking for him, that slim advantage had been eliminated, since Matthew had spent the last few hours snooping around the area in an obvious manner.  Even if he had managed to track him down, Matthew still had not been able to answer the question, “Then what do I do?”  So he called off the pointless search and switched to a more meaningful one: finding Jack.  Rather than glancing around corners in what he thought was a stealthy manner, he kept his eyes to the ground, looking for places where someone had been frantically digging with a rock, his hands, or whatever he could find.

It was because he was staring at the ground that he spotted the woman first.  She was lying on the ground in an awkward position, as if she had been struck and suddenly fell into unconsciousness.  The woman was probably a few years older than Matthew and Jack, and she appeared to be Italian.  After a quick glance, Matthew almost certainly would have next looked up to see his friend, who was carrying a shovel and looking much more bewildered than usual, except for one other thing that caught his eye.

She was wearing a gray hooded cloak.

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The Jenoviad Entry #33

September 25th, 2009 by Wordsman

BLIP BLIP BLIP. The buttons beeped
A great cacophony
The fact the door remain’ed shut
Was plain for all to see

“What was that?” yelled Tifa
“Why’d you hit your buttons
Never mind, we’ll try once more”
But they just failed again

“Cloud! Why swing your arm like that?
You doing magic tricks?”
“I can’t help it!” snarled Cloud
“This stupid button sticks!”

“God!” said Tifa. “Never thought
That this would take so long”
“Not my fault!” Barret complained
“You must be counting wrong”

“Should I add more numbers?”
“No!” said Cloud. “Just stick with three
You know that
bomb we planted?
Where’s your sense of urgency?”

“All right!” she said through gritted teeth
“We’ll give this one last try
But if you screw it up again
So help me, I might cry”

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Movie Two-Liners Entry #33

September 23rd, 2009 by Wordsman

This week’s puzzle:

A male condemned for attacking a woman escapes capture and ends up in a place he’s never been before. There he travels for a while with a group of naïve mendicants and helps to topple two of the most influential figures in the region.

Last week’s puzzle:

A former champion quits his job, finds a new one, leaves that, goes back to his original job, and gets another one on the side. After failing at his latest job, he goes off to do what those who cannot do do: teach.

And the answer is . . . ▼

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This Day in History Entry #32

September 22nd, 2009 by Wordsman

The man called the USA’s first spy
Nathan Hale did the British defy
Said his only regret
Was they’d but one life get
In a speech he gave ‘fore he did die

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Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? Entry #33

September 21st, 2009 by Wordsman


“Are you sure we’re in Rome?”

Matthew really had to wonder how his friend could possibly be looking at a sign like that and still have to ask the question.  Sure, there were sections missing, but come on!  There were roman numerals on it!  They were using Vs instead of Us, for god’s sake!  Knowing Jack for as long as he had, Matthew was not at all surprised, but still, you really had to wonder.

“Technically,” he began with a mild hint of annoyance, “we are not in Rome.  This is Ostia Antica, as I explained to you several times on the train ride over.”

“Attempted to explain” might have been a more accurate description, as was evidenced by the fact that the fruitless task was repeated several times.  To Jack, there was no form of transportation more romantic and exotic than the train.  Matthew could sort of understand the fascination; living in the U.S., they had very little exposure to trains, while at the same time their constant appearance in popular culture as the setting for dramatic chases and robberies could not fail to excite the imagination.  What he could not understand was his friend’s reaction every single time they boarded a train—even a perfectly boring local commuter train—which was to run around and jump up and down like a six-year-old that just ate an entire box of Pixy Stix.

“Ostia was the port of ancient Rome,” Matthew said, figuring that there might be some value in repeating himself for a fifth time now that Jack was off the train and relatively motionless.  “Ostia means ‘mouth’ in Latin.  The port was built here on the mouth of the Tiber River, where it emptied into the Tyrrhenian Sea.”

Jack looked around, and for once even Matthew was willing to admit that his puzzlement was justifiable.  “So . . . where’s the sea?”

“If you were listening carefully, you would have noted that I said that Ostia was the port of ancient Rome.  Since then the sea level has fallen, and the area around the old port silted up.  We’re now about two miles away from the water.”

“So what’s here now?”

“Just an archeological dig site and museum.”  There was no point in sugar coating it.  Jack had admitted that it was wrong of him to take control of the expedition the previous morning, and he declared that it was Matthew’s turn to pick their destination.  Matthew had no obligation to try to pretend that there was anything there likely to excite his friend.  Knowing Jack, he would probably do just fine making up something on his own anyway.

Jack wandered around, glanced at the ruins of the ancient brick buildings, and then turned back to Matthew with a worried look on his face.  “But are you sure that this is part of Rome?”

Matthew groaned.  “Like I said, technically—”

“I’m not talking about that.  It’s still part of the general Rome area, right?”

Matthew raised an eyebrow.  He had rarely seen his friend so concerned.  “What’s the matter?”

“There’s NO ONE here!” Jack shouted, his voice echoing off the centuries-old walls.  “This is ROME . . . or close to it anyway.  The greatest city in the world!  How can there be no one here?  I mean, I know it’s just a bunch of boring ruined buildings, but it was like that in the Forum, too, and that place was packed!  What’s going on here?”

What Matthew most wanted to say was: “Just a bunch of boring ruined buildings?  The Forum?  The former center of the known world?  Admittedly, the signage there is lacking, so for someone unfamiliar with its history it might be difficult to appreciate, but still!  The FORUM?  Boring?  Let me tell you a thing or two about the Forum . . .”

What it would have been most honest for Matthew to say was: “I know.  That’s the reason I picked this place.  It’s not that I’m not interested in the history, because I am, but that’s not the reason I specifically chose to come here today.  I’m looking for the figure in gray.  I wanted somewhere with no one else around, no crowds to disappear into.  I know the gray-clad figure will have followed me here, because there are so many ruined walls and other convenient places to hide.  But he doesn’t know I’m looking for him.  He won’t be prepared.  All of a sudden I’ll jump around a wall and then BAM . . . um, something will happen.  I’m not exactly sure what.”

What Matthew actually said was: “Just because a place isn’t packed doesn’t mean it’s boring.  Some sites just take a little more effort to enjoy.  Ostia Antica isn’t famous like the Colosseum or the Circus Maximus, but it’s just as rich in historical significance—in fact, I’d say it’s even more so.  You have to imagine what it was like back in the old days.  Think about what the buildings looked like when they were whole.  Picture the streets when they were full of merchants pouring in from all around the Mediterranean Sea.  Trust me, you won’t think it’s boring then.”

Jack was trying, Matthew had to give him that.  He could see the effort on his friend’s face.  Unfortunately, there were just some things that Jack’s imagination was really good at and some things at which it was terrible.  So Matthew took pity on his friend and gave him something easier to work with.  “It was sacked by pirates, too.”

“What?” Jack asked.  Matthew could have sworn he saw his friend’s ears perk up.  “Did you say pirates?”

Matthew nodded.  “Now, there’s no record of any treasure being buried in this area, but . . .”

“Well why didn’t you say so in the first place?” Jack asked, his face breaking into a broad smile.  “We’ve got to hurry up and find this treasure before someone else does!  Come on, help me find a shovel!”

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The Jenoviad Entry #32

September 18th, 2009 by Wordsman

Barret crowed, “This will make sure
That our poor planet lives”
Cloud looked at it, puzzled
“What, no timer?  Hey, what gives?”

“No time for that!” the big man cried
“Let’s quick get out of here
I don’t see any robots
So I think we’re in the clear”

Quickly now they ran back up
They had no need to stay
At the top they came to find
A shut door blocked their way

“Man, that sucks,” complain’ed Cloud
Barret began to swear
“Calm down, guys,” said Tifa
“Push those buttons over there”

“That’s it?” said Cloud.  “Security
Seems really poorly done”
“Not so fast.  They must be hit
In perfect unison”

“Still not bad,” Barret reasoned
Said Tifa, “I agree
We’ll go upon my signal
Are you ready?  One . . . two . . . three!”

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Movie Two-Liners Entry #32

September 16th, 2009 by Wordsman

This week’s puzzle:

A former champion quits his job, finds a new one, leaves that, goes back to his original job, and gets another one on the side. After failing at his latest job, he goes off to do what those who cannot do do: teach.

Last week’s puzzle:

One man escapes capture and death using a lighter, an umbrella, and a pen. Another man wrecks a boat, breaks a window, ruins a perfectly good motorcycle, crash-lands a plane, and loses his hat.

And the answer is . . . ▼

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This Day in History Entry #31

September 15th, 2009 by Wordsman

Seeking to improve his fine collection
Young Charles did a thorough inspection
Of samples he got piles
From Galapagos’ isles
All in all, a most nat’ral selection

Posted in This Day in History | 1 Comment »

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