I have written a short memory quiz about the three partners who collaborated on The Marriage of Figaro because I think we humans need to better develop our memories. Do the quiz after you have read the post of February 27, 2018. People my age are always worried about their memories, but you younger members of the human species should also worry. Humans are not even in the top three in memory ranking. A cat’s short-term memory is 20 times longer than ours, for example, and maybe that is why they sometimes seem supernatural. You will never see a cat misplacing its keys or forgetting why it came into a room, as our species sometimes does. Horses and dolphins recognize old friends after decades of separation, while we often have to struggle to figure out not only who is saying hello to us in an unexpected meeting, but even calling us by name. Chimpanzees have much better visual memories than we do, sea lions have much better long-term memories, and octopuses (or octopi) have developed both their short-term memories and their long-term memories to be linked to each other, and collectively, these memories alone are powered by half a billion neurons! Most of us know that elephants have great memories, but we should also be aware their memories rank higher than ours. And, interestingly, elephants hold grudges longer than we do. I have read that elephants basically depend on their sense of smell to develop their memories, but that the only thing we humans can retain long-term is the lingering sense of asparagus, which smells like urine. Does that mean that those of us who never get near asparagus have seriously underdeveloped memories? I have included pictures of the three partners who created The Marriage of Figaro, hoping that this visual prompt will stimulate your memories. Try to do the quiz without cheating.
1 – Which of the three partners was born in Austria? In Italy? In France?
2 – Which man died poor? Which man died poorer? Which man died the poorest?
3 – Which man was born a Jew? Which man was born a prodigy? Which man was born a social climber?
4 – Which man was possibly poisoned? Which man possibly poisoned others? Which man never played with poison?
5 – Which man was exiled? Which man had to run away? Which man simply moved to whichever country his job took him?
6 – Which man was always a womanizer? Which man was estranged from his father for most of his life? Which man was once a priest?
7 – Which man was a piano player? Which man was once a language teacher? Which man was at some point an arms dealer?
8 – Which man was poor at managing his personal money? Which man was poor at controlling his appetite for financial risks? Which man was poor at managing the financial part of his businesses?
9 – Which man apparently played no musical instrument? Which man played the violin, viola, and keyboard instruments? Which man played the flute, viola and the harp?
10 – Which man could listen to music just once and then write it all down from memory? Which man started out as the Royal Watchmaker to King Louis XV? Which man was nicknamed “the ignorant genius” as a child because he couldn’t express all that he knew and was learning?
I was born near the end of WWII and raised in a small town in New Jersey, just a little more than a 30-minute drive from NYC. It was a wonderful place to be brought up, feeding ducks and canoeing on the river that meandered through the town in the summer, and ice-skating on that same river in the winter.
My two brothers and I were privileged to be raised in a lovely town that was safe to explore on foot, but close enough to NYC to be taken there on day trips to see the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Baily B & B circus, museums, Chinatown, street fairs in the spring and Broadway shows as we grew older. But we thought nothing of it.
Later as teens, we would go into NYC to buy a couple of beers (the drinking age in New York State was 18, and 21 in New Jersey) and hang out in Greenwich Village where we saw singers such as Bob Dylan who were on the first rung of the ladder on their way to fame.
The sixties were a time of speaking out and creating change. I decided to do my part by joining the Peace Corps, an innovative cold war program established by John F. Kennedy in 1961. I arrived in Brazil at the end of 1966, and after an adaptation period, was sent to serve in Porto Nacional, in what was Goias at that time. I can’t say I changed the course of the country, especially as I was immediately called upon to teach English in the local high school.
I have been teaching ever since; high schools, college literature, college language pedagogy, financial English and everything in-between. I married a wonderful Brazilian from Rio and we had 3 boys and moved around some, as he was an engineer who worked on hydro dams. Nowadays I am a widow and live in BH with 3 cats, one of which has extraordinary powers, and I have 4 wonderful and uniquely different grandchildren nearby. Thus far, I have had an interesting life, and this new endeavor called a blog should make it even more interesting.