Monthly Archives: May 2015

A Damsel in Distress for July 12

damsel-in-distressThe Den(ver) of the Secret Nine numbered seven at our Mother’s Day meeting. This year no one chose to bring Mom to a meeting and so turnout was a little low but our enthusiasm for Wodehouse’s 1915 masterpiece Something Fresh made up for our reduced numbers. Several members had never read it and for newest member Mike it was his  introduction to the Blandings saga.

Member “Phone Box” Larry said he’d wished Something Fresh had been his first introduction to Blandings, for he had been somewhat at a loss when thrown into the maelstrom that is Leave it to Psmith and Uncle Fred in the Springtime and it was a pleasure to him to start at the beginning.

july-12Our meeting was also the first trial run of Wodehouse Trope-ical Bingo version 2.0. The new version relies on story specific tropes and we’ve identified 48 tropes that appear in the novel, making it possible to print two randomly ordered cards for each player. We’re hoping to officially play our first game at an upcoming get together on Aug. 15. This will not be a public meeting and only open to existing members as it will be at original member “Hard Cider” Mike’s home. We’re also hoping to schedule the cricket game outing but are awaiting a list of dates from the Colorado Cricket League. That event will be open to all but unlike last year, will not be a catered event. Most likely it will be a potluck with a sign up sheet so we don’t end up with a surfeit of cucumber sandwiches. It would be at Cornerstone Park in Littleton should the stars align and not conflict with our bingo night.

Incidentally, several members were puzzled by our talk of Madame Eulalie. Annotations for many of the stories can be found at this website, including A Damsel in Distress, the story we’ll discuss at the next meeting, July 12th, most likely at 12:30 p.m. at Pints Pub, our usual meeting place. I think it was member “Ice-T” Joice who championed this 1919 novel, saying it might very well be a Blandings tale in disguise.

Its available at Project Gutenberg and as a Librivox recording, but I’ll undoubtedly opt for another Overlook edition. It was also filmed in 1937 as a musical comedy starring Fred Astaire, Joan Fontaine and George Burns and Gracie Allen.



The 48 tropes found in Something Fresh


Version 2.0 of Wodehouse Trope-ical Bingo is still in development, but you can see here two sample cards displaying all 48 tropes identified in Something Fresh. It’s a bit of a stretch to identify 48 and requires mining both the UK and the US versions, but these choices are defendable. I would have liked to have found 72 tropes in all, but even for Plum that might be a bit of a stretch. The explanations for the tropes are below. Several of these were taken from the annotations to be found at Madame Eulalie. To qualify as a trope, it has to be found in at least three Wodehouse novels or short stories.

1. All Possible Worlds: Any reference to “the best of all possible worlds” — the favourite saying of Pangloss , a character in Voltaire’s Candide

2. All’s Right: Any part of Robert Browning’s Pippa Passes
The year’s at the spring,
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hill-side’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in His heaven—
All’s right with the world!

3. American Millionaire: Any reference to a wealthy American

4. Breach of Promise: Any mention of the punitive aspects of calling off an engagement

5. Bric-a-brac: Any delicate object, probably made of porcelain, broken in the course of the story

6. Brooding Dane: Any Shakespeare reference or quote

7. Butterfly Wing: Any reference to tying a tie

8. Chorus Girl: Any complication arising from a character being a chorus girl

9. Damning Letters: Any missives that could later cause trouble

10. Detective Story: Any mention of a detective story

11. Dumb Chum: Any reference to a cat or dog physically present

12. Durance Vile: Any time someone is exiled to Blandings

13. Elementary: Any reference to Sherlock Holmes

14. Fallen Fortunes: Any character formerly of wealth fallen on hard times

15. Geologic Time: Any reference to deep time

16. Gilbert & Sullivan: Any reference to the comic operas of

17. Golf: Any mention of golf

18. Health Cure: Any character undergoing a course of treatment

19. Hosts of Midian: Any reference to the Midianites from the bible

20. Impostor: Someone claiming to be other than he/she is

21. Inside Job: Any time someone inserts themselves into a residence to effect a burglary

22. Latin Fine Points: Any discussion of the finer points of Latin

23. Legalese: Any use of lawyerly language

24. Maelstrom: Any reference to this watery disturbance

25. Mammoth Publishing: Any mention of the Mammoth Publishing Company

26. McGuffin: Any object desired by many

27. Obsessive Hobby: Any mention of an obsessive hobby

28. Overheard: Any overheard conversation

29. Oxford Blue: Athletic achievement at university

30. Publishing Magnate: Any publisher of wealth

31. Pushing Plate Away: Any character forced not to indulge

32. Reading Aloud: Any time a character reads aloud to another character

33. Ridiculous Coincidence: Any coincidence stretching the bounds of credulity

34. Russian Troubles: Any mention of the troubles afflicting Russians

35. Saint Benard Dog: Any reference to this animal

36. Second Son: The prospects of any younger son

37. Secret Society: Any mention of a secret society

38. Senior Conservative Club: Lord Emsworth’s Club

39. Snack Thief: Any character who obtains or delivers food by stealth

40. Stepping Stones: Any part of Tennyson’s In Memoriam A H H
I held it truth, with him who sings
To one clear harp in divers tones,
That men may rise on stepping-stones
Of their dead selves to higher things.

41. Stomach Lining: Any character with digestive problems

42. Stout Cortez: Any part of John Keats’ On first looking into Chapman’s Homer
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

43. Swedish Exercises: Funny looking exercises

44. Taking a Risk: Any character gambling on adventure

45. Title Drop: Whenever the title of the story appears in the prose

46. Unjustly Accused: Any character unjustly accused

47. Winning Imitation: Any performance of an imitation that succeeds

48. Woman’s Smile: The effect of the female upon the male at a vulnerable time