Downton Abbey Explained, Sort of

I’ve heard only positive reviews of Downton Abbey from everyone who watches the PBS series, so when I happened upon an episode the other night, I thought I’d give it a whirl.


I’ve caught episodes of ABC’s Scandal, and Revenge, here and there, and even though I didn’t really know what was going on, I could kind of get the gist.

I cannot say the same for Episode 6 of Season 4 of Downton Abbey.

On Scandal, I think Olivia Pope is a “fixer” who manages to keep lots of secrets while she and the President of the United States try to contain their lust for each other.


Revenge is about Emily Thorne aka Amanda Clarke, trying to exact revenge against Victoria Grayson, the woman who tore her family apart when she was a child.


But all I could figure out by watching Episode 6 of Season 4 of Downton Abbey is that His Earlness had to go abroad, and, for some reason that everyone seemed to know but pretended not to know that I didn’t know, his valet could not accompany him. His valet was replaced by a man who seemed to be a VIT (Valet In Training.)

There was much talk amongst the kitchen wenches, and between several very thin women who all seemed to know the truth about the valet.

I, on the other hand, was not made privy to it. Even if I were, I wouldn’t have understood anyone anyway – –  and that was before Maggie Smith’s character developed bronchitis.

maggie smith

There were several Americans in the mix I could understand, but that didn’t help me learn who they were, why they were residents of Downton Abbey, or why the valet couldn’t travel abroad with His Earlnessless.

Later, a very thin women sat in a boat being rowed by a very handsome man of color. It became increasingly obvious they were attracted to one another and eventually kissed.

Now, I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ babies, but I’m pretty sure an interracial tryst between a black man and a thin white woman who resided at the Abbey in the early 1900’s would most certainly be frowned upon. Just a guess.

Nearly every scene mentioned the much anticipated arrival of pigs. I assumed “pigs” was a British term referring to the many lustful young men in the series, until I saw a scene where there were real pigs (the actual animals) on the grounds of the Earldom.


But, as soon as the man who was outside looking at the pigs (again, the actual animals) showed concern on his face while crouching down to the ground, I changed the channel before I was forced to see either a sick or dead pig.

It was easy to leave Downton Abbey behind. I had spent nearly an hour with the characters, yet knew nothing about them, or how they related to one another.

I strained to understand every word they said, and I never found out why the valet couldn’t travel with His Earldomness. Therefore, I gave not a tiny rat’s arse about them, the Abbey, or why it was crawling with pigs and bronchitis.

I should just watch the entire series from the beginning, as friends have recommended.

The channel I landed on happened to bring me to another manse filled with British aristocracy, but, thankfully, I was able to understand what the characters were saying.


But The Royals offered little dialogue.

I arrived into the world of The Royals in time for two parties. One was a masquerade ball being thrown by Queen Helena, who wasn’t quite ready to receive her guests because she was receiving something quite different from a man in her bed.

As the Queen and this man emerged from her bedchamber, they kissed and looked at each other as only lovers do, which was a dead give-away that he was not the King.

The Queen’s butler witnessed the kiss, but his discreet, yet knowing look revealed he had been in (or possibly, even unwittingly come upon) this, and many other positions before.

The butler handed Queen Helena her royal crown so she could entertain the rest of her guests, most likely not in the same way she had just entertained her paramour.

As she turned to leave, she glanced back but, alas, her lover was gone. She replaced the royal crown with the simple, yet elegant wreath of flowers he had given her.

But, Queendom called, so off to the party she went, which was a good thing, because after all she was the hostess of this masquerade ball and, although her royal identity might have been veiled by a mask, she actually did have to show up.

The next scene took place at the other party,  thrown by Princess Eleanor, who I gathered was allergic to clothing. The party was, in essence, an orgy. There were definitely pigs at this party, but not of the livestock variety.

Princess Eleanor

When I woke up the next morning, every so often a scene from one of the pieces of fine cinema I had witnessed the night before insisted upon being replayed in my head.

But, because each show involved royalty, secrets, affairs, and pigs, I became easily confused. Did Maggie Smith participate in a pig orgy? Highly unlikely. If so, I’d need to extract my brain, lather, rinse, and repeat.

I will eventually watch Downton Abbey, mainly to find out if that pig survived, but I will give The Royals a flush.

I think I‘ll just stick to reruns of “Friends,” and “The Big Bang Theory” because I’ve seen each episode so many times, I don’t confuse Central Perk with the California Institute of Technology, or a W.E.N.U.S. with a swirling vortex of entropy.

On Friends, Chandler Bing works for a computer processing company. The W.E.N.U.S. is the Weekly Estimated Net Usage System. There is also an A.N.U.S., or Annual Net Usage System.
Penny hands Leonard her keys and asks Leonard and Sheldon to bring a package into her apartment while she's at work. Noticing how messy her apartment is, Sheldon wants to clean it. Leonard says, "Sheldon, this is not your home." Sheldon says, "Look, this is not anyone's homr, this is a swirling vortex of entropy!
In the show “The Big Bang Theory,” Penny hands Leonard her keys and asks if he and Sheldon would bring a package into her apartment while she’s at work. Noticing how messy her apartment is, Sheldon wants to clean it. Leonard says, “Sheldon, this is not your home.” Sheldon says, “Look, this is not anyone’s home, this is a swirling vortex of entropy!


Just Call Me

leslie on phone revPeople used to rely on smoke signals and Morse code to communicate. Now we send each other text messages and emails and expect everything to be completely understood by the other person.

Let’s go back in time, shall we? Imagine someone sending “Thank you” via smoke to someone else across the tundra. It’s all good until a sudden little shift in air flow changes it to mean something completely different. Or, imagine someone accidentally using two dashes when he or she meant to use one. Think about it. Someone could be sending someone else the primitive version of a booty call and end up starting a war.

Texts and e mails are handy ways to keep in touch with my friends, but lately have also caused a few problems between us.

So, my dear, cherished friends, in an effort to avoid further misunderstandings caused by technical difficulties, if something is really important, please call me!

I’m obviously less tech savvy than you. I don’t have e mail on my phone and I don’t check it often on my computer. I’m sorry, but that’s how I roll. I write for (an eventual) living so, yes, I am on my computer. But that doesn’t mean I’m checking email and Facebook every five minutes. That would be too overwhelming for my “Oh look, there’s a squirrel” mentality. A phone call is the way to go.

But who has time to talk on the phone? I don’t either, but if you want to tell me something really important and you want me to understand what you’re saying, call me. Leave a voice mail if you have to. I will understand if you speak clearly on the phone and then return your call after I listen to my messages.

Or, text to let me know you’ve e mailed or called and left a message for me, if you need to tell me something important. I don’t have the “preview message” setting turned on because that would be another challenge to what equals a gnat’s ability to concentrate on the task at hand, but I do get generic notifications, and I periodically check my phone to see if I need to get back to someone posthaste.

It’s upsetting to me when friends become angry with me because I don’t understand a random text bubble they’ve sent from what appears to me to be out of the blue. They know they sent me an email an hour ago, didn’t hear back from me, got frustrated and then texted me. I know nothing! I check my e mail when it’s convenient for me to do so, which isn’t very frequently. And then, I still know nothing!

For example, one of my friends and I help each other out with editing sometimes. I received this text from him, “This is a DRAFT. How problematic is it?”

I responded,”Well, the only problem is there’s no attachment.”

Another friend texted, “I sent u two e mails and didn’t hear from u, all ok?” followed by another text bubble two hour later that read, “R u not getting my e mails?” No, because I hadn’t checked my e mail yet that day.

But last week was the misunderstanding of all times. I have been trying to get together with a friend for weeks so we could have tea and catch up. (Hey, If Billy Corgan’s Madame Zuzu’s Tea Room was five minutes away you’d be going there instead of Starbucks, too!) She was currently out of town. Richard and I were out and, as if she knew I was thinking about her, she sent a text that read, “Any interest in tues. breakfast? My treat if you come get me.”

I replied, “Sounds good. Let me get back to you tomorrow for sure.” I thought that she was back in town and offered to buy me breakfast if I drove, which was very nice but not necessary.

I wanted to go home to check my calendar, plus I needed to call my ENT first thing in the morning to try to get an appointment ASAP due to a persistent, painful ear infection, and if he/she/it could see me Tuesday morning, I was going to be seen. But I didn’t want to send a text that long.

My friend replied, “Ok. I let you know fit info if/when you know for sure.”
I replied, “Are you ok? Your text is hilarious.” It was. It didn’t make sense to me.

Apparently she did not agree and replied, “Huh?” in one text bubble, followed by another text bubble that read, “You said you would let me know. So, no reason to share ft info(flight) if you don’t need it.” Another incoming bubble followed that read, “Especially since I have to look it up,” followed by another text bubble that read “And I’m resting.”

If you’re resting, why are you texting me and getting upset with me because I am not comprehending what you’re trying to say, Lassie? (As in the dog.)

So I texted a few smiley face emoticons to let her know I had received the bubble that said she was resting and then I planned to call her when I got home.

Her next text bubble read, “Cool. I think we are on the same page now. I’ll be on the road all over this state (which I thought was Illinois, but was not) so just keep in touch and let me know if we are a go tues. otherwise I will have to make a diff plan at some point.”

Again, just to clarify, SHE began this text sequence. Out of the blue. Out of context. And definitely out of my realm of comprehension.

I thought about this “conversation” we were having and even asked Richard, who was driving, if it made any sense to him. Suddenly a thought occurred to me and I sent a text saying, “Oooooooooooh! Do you need a ride Tuesday from somewhere?”

She replied, “Ok. I would say check your hearing aids but everything we talked about was written. We discussed between e mail and text, the concept of you picking me up at the airport and going to bfast or coffee together to catch up.”

I replied, “This is Leslie Korengold. I never discussed picking you up at the airport although I would if you would stop yelling at me!”

Her next text bubble read, “Check your texts and e mail. I’m not yelling but unless someone has been posing as you, you told me that it sounds good and you would let me know tomorrow.”

Aha! She had e mailed me and assumed I’d read it. So, when she texted me about picking her up Tuesday she thought my reply, “Sounds good…” meant I had read it.

I think we are all aware of the old adage, “When you assume something, you make an ass out of you and me,” but I prefer the way Jenny McCarthy’s character said it in an episode of Two and a Half Men while talking to Alan and Charlie’s mother, “You know, Evelyn, when you assume, you’re just a bitch.”

P.S. I am not saying my friend is a bitch, because she’s not, and I was able to make an appointment with the ENT Tuesday morning so I would not have been able to pick her up at the airport anyway. She took a cab and we have plans next week for tea.


Here’s our video to MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This”!

I know some people haven’t been able to watch it on YouTube, so I posted it here:

“U Can’t Touch This” is the sole property of MC Hammer, Rick James, and Alonso Miller. It s not the property of whatsoever.


My husband Richard craves neatness and order and thinks my idea of a comfy lived-in look should be reported to the local health department. His distaste for other people, including his family, touching his belongings gave me the idea to make this video.