Mrs. O'Shaughnessy, my landlady lo these many years, knocked on my door. "Telephone downstairs for you, Mr. Goldberger. I think it's that same nasty man who called you last year at Oscar time. Oh, 'tis a bad business, I fear."
Mrs. O'Shaughnessy, who prided herself on only letting her rooms to critics, took a personal interest in my career. I followed her downstairs to the foyer where, before I picked up the dangling receiver, she informed, "Lamb stew tonight. Oh, and Miss Chalmers will be returning from her librarians' convention."
"Hello, Goldberger here."
"That you, Iceberger?" came the inherently menacing voice, its possessor purposely employing the nickname he hatched for me last year when he offered to sell me a purloined list of Academy Award winners.
"I guess so."
"Whatsamatter? You don't seem too enthused. I got the winners for you. You'll wow 'em with your predictions. I just need a little favor."
"You mean a quid pro quo?"
"No, don't say that. No quid pro quo. No quid pro quo. Just a perfect phone call for a perfect deal. No quid pro quo."
I was silent.
He continued, "You don't appreciate me, because you don't realize who I really am … what I represent in the greater scheme of things, you and your liberal idealism. C'mon, admit it. Gosh sakes, I'm the biggest thing humanity has ever known. Take your precious democracy that took guys like Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and Payne to create, and add the countless patriots who gave up their lives to protect it in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and WWII.
"But I've fiendishly outdone them. All that work they put in, the longest running democracy since the beginning of time, and here I am, little old me, in just a smidgen over three years, and I've practically obliterated it all. But, to quote Rodney Dangerfield, I still don't get no respect. So I want you to publicize, along with the winning Oscar predictions I'll give you, my great achievement. It's my gift to the Academy: to upstage and outdo the Oscars and all those so- called beautiful people who never let me join in reindeer games."
Wishing to get this over with, I asked, "So what is this great achievement, anyway?"
"Ha, ha. See, you're curious. Well, here it is. I and I alone am making sure that one of the greatest movies of all time is never made. Call me the anti-filmmaker — bigger in reverse than Louis B. Mayer ever was, Iceberger. Fitting, isn't it? You see, for me to be convicted in this big hoax, it would take about 20 votes from among my loyal toadies. It ain't happening. They could kiss their cushy careers goodbye. But if it did — if 20 of those grovelers suddenly realized that now was the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their country, the dramatic details of the backstory how our republic was saved, and how each jury member awakened from the Kool-Aid and listened to their conscience, would make for the most stupendous political drama to ever come out of Hollywood. I.E. — One greedy senator, perennially profiting from her office, learns she's terminally ill and now seeks redemption; another, the mediocre son of a legendary statesman, sees the opportunity to amend his legacy; and so on and so forth. It'd be bigger than 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington' (1939), bigger even than 'All The Presidents Men' (1976). But it won't be, because they won't get me. So, how's about you be a good boy and announce that in your Oscar prediction column? Have we got a deal?"
"I'm afraid not."
"Curses!" came the angry voice. "So go ahead. Peddle your small-time column. Who cares? No one reads it, anyway. I gave you a chance to be a winner, to get out of that two-bit rooming house. I'd sell you a nice condo. Democracy, humbug! Loser!"
That night at the dining room table, I perceived an especially proud look on Mrs. O'Shaughnessy's face as she served up extra helpings of lamb stew, and all those in attendance jovially pitched in, barn raising style, to help me make my Oscar predictions.
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The weather outside is ... a bit frightful this Tuesday morning.
Snow is falling across the region, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a special weather statement: "Snow has developed across the southern Green Mountains, northern Berkshires, and Washington county in eastern New York. Snowfall of varying intensity with temperatures near or below freezing could result in areas of slippery travel and reduced visibility. Around 1 to 3 inches of snow will accumulate, especially in the higher terrain. Use caution if traveling into the afternoon."
Be careful driving if you're out and about today running errands, getting to and from work, or bringing the kiddos somewhere to keep them entertained during this February school vacation week. (If you're in warmer climates this vacation week, lucky you!)
Be aware that the snow today likely will change to rain in most of the region early this afternoon, making it less pretty and more messy. The rest of the week looks pretty quiet on the weather front, though we will see more seasonably cold temperatures, with lows in the single digits Wednesday and Thursday.
The weekend outlook, though? Sunny and temps around 40. Can't beat that in February!
Library Director Sarah Sanfilippo told the trustees on Wednesday that she has been in contact with the 125th Celebration Planning Committee that has indicated it wants to focus some fundraising efforts on the deteriorating tower.
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The School Committee approved the $10,038,602 budget on Thursday that although is almost 5 percent more than the fiscal 2020 budget of $9,564,727 reflects a near $331,000 increase in state aid.
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Clarksburg School, in its first showing, won the People's Choice voting while Grazie, which has won top spots twice in the past, was selected by a panel of judges as the best chowder in the city.
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