Sunday, January 24 2021

from the homework vault: the count of monte cristo

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My 11th grade Literature class had to read the Count of Monte Cristo. It's still in my top ten favorite books - the abridged edition - the unabridged edition was just too long for me to get through.

These are from Junior year literature, the winter of 2007-2008.

The Newspaper

For this assignment, we had to summarize events form the book in the style of a local newspaper. My group would go on to print our articles and arrange them on a poster board. I remember one of the girls in my group worked on Yearbook, so as a result our fake newspaper ended up looking really good.

ROME - Not even bandits take a day off for festivals. As exuberant celebration flooded the streets last week, so did gang activity. Local authorities believe the festival may have been used to shroud malicious activity.

Lt. Masoni Batali of the Roman Municipality released to the press that felony peaked this year at during the Lent festival, possibly indicating more is to come.

"When it comes to watching the yearly carnival, [we’re] usually over-prepared," says Batali, "but reports like these usually mean something a little more serious is happening."

Among the serious occurrences was the kidnapping of a nobleman’s son, Albert de Morcerf. Albert, while attending the festival, was allegedly lured into a catacomb and held against his will for several hours during some type of transaction. Albert was recovered, but the catacomb was completely evacuated by the time police arrived at the scene.

Authorities believe this to be the working of an underground urban organization involved in drug trafficking and slave trade.

The city council will meet this Thursday to discuss new regulations for parades and festivals; there is even some talk of banning certain parades.

Though changes are needed, protesters fear it is an encroachment on a citizen’s right to celebrate a holiday innocently. Either way, you can expect the state to keep a closer watch on all festivities.

POLITICAL PRISONER FALLS TO HIS DEATH IN A WATERY GRAVE. Edmond Dantes, incarcerated for affiliation with the Usurper, broke free of the impregnable Chateau d`IF prison only to be hurled from a lofty bluff to his death.

Sentries found a fifty-foot tunnel dug underground with silverware, leading to an adjacent cell. Apparently, Dantes murdered the inmate, then escaped in his body bag, thinking he’d be buried outside the prison as a corpse.

All deceased prisoners of the Chateau d’If are usually disposed into the ocean, weighted with a cannonball. Such information would have been more than just helpful to Edmond.

Essentially, he sprung from one prison into another – a prison that he’ll most likely never escape from.

HONEST BUSINESS MAN’S SINKING FIRM SAVED BY AN UNKNOWN BENEFACTOR. The shipping firm of Morrel and Sons, which was slipping away in profound debt over the past few months, owes its salvation to an anonymous patron, who is believed to be associated with the Roman firm of Thompson and French.

Morrel was left a lustrous sum of money and a beautiful boat in his harbor just as his company hit rock bottom.

"[If it was] a day later, I wouldn’t have been here," says Morrel, "may God bless the Saint responsible for this."

Morrel and Sons is now at full operation and is even experiencing a refreshing run of success.

As it turns out, grace has a name – and that name happens to be anonymous.

VENUS JUST DOESN’T SPIN LIKE IT USED TO. Astronomers say that Venus’s rotation has taken a turn, but was it was for better or for worse?

Last week, Venus went into retrograde – a truly unexpected phenomenon.

"From what we can tell, there is a high possibility of retrograde in the planet’s movement, but there is always some uncertainty," says Dr. Wendell Robes Pierre, a scientist at the observatory in Paris.

Concern surrounds the planet’s caprice. The retrograde could have a negative effect on the delicate equilibrium of our solar system, especially due to its proximity to the earth.

How is that for some spin on the story?

The News Room

For this assignment, we had to retell some of the stories from the book in the form of an evening news bulletin which we would act out in the front of the class. Our group squeezed so many jokes into this short skit it basically turned into a SNL episode of Weekend Update. Christine played an odd, aloof astrology kook, but Stephanie stole the show with a solid 19th century parody of Jim Kramer's Mad Money.

Everyone’s head turned down.

Steph: (man-like voice) And we’re on in three... two... one...

All: ["Doo doo doo..."]

Alex: Good morning, good morning Paris, I’m anchorman Alex. Thanks for tuning into the Rue Royale news hour, where the truth is always stranger than fiction. Today’s top story in Rome – trouble at the lent festival. Some alarming statistics just surfaced overnight. Roman Municipalities released a statement saying gang violence made quite a leap during yesterday’s parade. Among the serious occurrences was the kidnapping of nobleman’s son Albert de Morcerf. Ladies and Gentleman, crime is festering in Italy. Celebrate lent as you will, but try not to stumble down any dark allies.

Christine: (creepily) I live in a dark ally...

Alex: uh...speaking of dark, I think I hear the death knell! No, it’s not the reaper, it’s Stephanie Kang with the obituaries. Go ahead Steph...

Stephanie: Thanks Alex – a lot of death happening lately. Particularly by means of poisoning. The Marquis and Marquise of Saint Meran, along with a servant of Nortier were taken mysteriously by what some believe to be brucine. There is no doubt heavy suspicion surrounding the deaths. The Villefort house has been crawling with forensic specialists, but no further information yet. Alex...

Alex: Thanks Steph. An intense prison break at the Chateau d’If unfolds. A certain Edmond Dantes, incarcerated for his affiliation with the Usurper, allegedly dug an underground passage with silverware into an adjacent cell, murdered the inmate, and escaped through a body bag.

Christine: (creepily, again) I’ll put you in a body bag...

Alex: Yikes. Unfortunately, the prisoner was unaware that the deceased in Château d’If are not buried, but hurled into the ocean. Edmond plummeted down a fifty-foot drop to die a morbid, horrific death.

Steph: I hate it when that happens!

All: [Haughty laugh]

Alex: What are the stars saying? Let’s take it over to Dr. Christine Garces for the astrology report.

Christine: Finally. Leo. Hi there. Today is your lucky day. You will win the lottery and the count will bequeath you his entire fortune . Any Taurus with us today? Take it easy because the big test is over with. No need to worry about sp3 hybridization anymore.

Alex: [Aside] What are you talking about?

Christine: I don’t know. I’m just making stuff up. Scorpio? Watch out for scorpions... pretty self-explanatory. Is there some Cancer in the house? Congratulations. Someone has been kind to you. If your initials are JF, pass on the favor by lightening the workload of your students. Let’s do Pisces now. Um... Watch out for black cats, Luigi Vampas, and tabloid papers that contain horoscopes. Alright. I’m tired. That’ll do.

Alex: Thanks Dr. Garces. That was... uh... insightful. In other news, an honest businessman’s firm was saved from economical annihilation. Monsieur Morrel of Morrel and Son’s Shipping was saved by an anonymous donation. Allegedly, a purse with an impressive sum of money was left to him as well as a brand new boat just as the company hit rock bottom. It appears that grace has a name, but this time, that name happens to be anonymous.

Christine: (sarcastically) That doesn’t make any sense.

Alex: Why don’t you talk about the celebrity sightings, Christine?

Christine: Fine. I’ll play your little game... The Count of Monte Cristo himself was spotted at an A-lister party at the Morcerf residence. The count was sporting a beautiful emerald in which he kept an array of sleeping pills. Edourd Villefort and his mother were seen in a carriage this morning. Their horses were startled by something, sending the two celebs flying up and down France. Little is known about its whereabouts at this moment.

Alex: Let’s go to Stephanie for our Mad Money financial update.

Steph: [intense... hit table and point a lot] I got one word for you – sub prime loan! This Spanish bond scandal is ripping us to shreds and it’s gonna seek and destroy you and your mom’s house unless you sell it like it’s hot. Take a look at Danglars situation. The guy got burned out of a lot of francs. I got a new golden rule for you – sell, sell, sell. Newsflash – you’re free falling and it’s time to pull the ripcord! Alex...

Alex: Thanks Stephanie. It looks like that’ll do it for our show. Remember, for more information about any of the stories mentioned, pick up a copy of Rue Royale from your Laundromat, your grocery store, even steal it from your hairdresser if you have to – because it’s not just a tabloid. It’s the truth. Have a productive day.

All: ["doo... doo... doo"]