THE SOLDIER, RUPERT BROOKE – WORLD WAR ONE CENTENNIAL

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1914 V: The Soldier

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

Rupert Brooke

Rupert Brooke never came back from the war. An entire generation of the young men of Europe and England died in that war and the population had barely begun to return to normal when War II came calling.

As we celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of The Great War, it is good to remember how many soldiers and civilians died. This includes tens of thousands of Americans, and millions of English, Australian, Canadians, French, German, Belgian, Austrian, Russians and many others.

The number of military and civilian casualties in World War I totaled more than 37 million of which American military deaths are 53,402.

Civilian casualties out-numbered military casualties.

I want to believe that the era of endless war is coming to a close. During every year of my life, from my first memories of the Korean War, through Vietnam, the myriad wars in Africa, Europe, and Asia … there has been a war going on somewhere. As often as not, American fighting men are involved.

Today we celebrate the hundredth birthday of the war to end all wars and which obviously was merely the opening salvo of a century of endless war, I hope one of these days war can be nothing but footnotes.  Not a reality we can watch each night on the news. I can hope.

IT WAS A LOVELY WAR — A WORLD WAR ONE CENTENNIAL

Happy Birthday, Great War. It’s 100 years since the day you officially started. World War I (WWI), also known as the First World War, was a nearly global war. It officially began on July 28, 1914, though its real beginnings were rooted in events beginning decades, even centuries earlier.

It was an ugly, devastating war. Four years of slaughter that — technically — ended on November 11, 1918.

The official number of military casualties is 22,477,500 killed, wounded, or missing in action. The combined number of military and civilian casualties is more than 37 million. If, as I do, you consider World War II as chapter two of the same conflict, the number of dead becomes even more incomprehensible.

For the past couple of weeks, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has been “celebrating” the centennial of the first world war, inviting historians and military people to do the introductions and closing comments on the films. General Wesley Clark has been doing TCM’s intros and outros, the last of which was for Oh! What a Lovely War.

He referred to the movie as a musical comedy. While it has amusing moments, calling it a musical comedy doesn’t really cut it. If comedy can be dark, this is one dark comedy.

It’s also surprisingly informative. I can date my interest in World War I and modern American history to having seen this movie when it was released in 1969.

In his closing comments following the movie, General Clark said he hoped we had learned our lesson from this and all the other wars of the past century. I turned to Garry and said, “And what lesson, exactly, might that be?”

“Obviously,” said my husband, making a sour face, “We have learned nothing.”

I agree. Well, I guess we did learn a few things. We learned to build more efficient weapons, including weapons of mass destruction. We can kill more people faster — but no deader — than we did 100 years ago. Much of our military technology emerged during and post-WWI.

I don’t see this as progress. If you want to know why I’m so cynical, why I have trouble believing in a benign deity, look at the casualty figures from the collective wars of the past century.

I love this movie. Not only because of its historical veracity — it’s accurate — but because the music is wonderful. The cast includes everyone who was anyone in British cinema at the time – Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, Maggie Smith, Vanessa Redgrave, Dirk Bogarde, Ralph Richardson and more, all having a great time.

I’ve seen this many times and I guess so has Garry since we can both know the words to all the songs. Catchy. Very catchy.


OH! WHAT A LOVELY WAR

Directed by Richard Attenborough (his directorial début)

OH WHAT A LOVELY WAR

I saw “Oh! What a Lovely War” when it was released in 1969 and never forgot it. Based on the long-running British stage production, it’s World War I – in song, dance and irony. Its catchy score sticks in your brain. The songs are those sung by the troop during that long war. The cast includes everyone who was anyone in British stage or screen during the 1960s. The credits were a veritable who’s-who of English actors.

World War I is hard to understand, even when you study it. No matter how many books I read, I’m not sure I do or will. Its causes are rooted in old world grudges that make no sense to Americans.

So many ancient hatreds – thousands of years of scores to be settled.

My mother summed it: “Everyone was armed to the teeth. They wanted war. They just needed an excuse. Europe was a giant bomb waiting for someone to light a match.”

Hers may be as good an answer as any other. When the war began, it was the old world. The crowned heads of Europe ruled. When it finally ground to a halt in 1918 (it didn’t really end – WWII was the second chapter of the same war), the world had changed beyond recognition. The European monarchies were gone. A generation of men had been slaughtered; the death toll was beyond belief. The callous indifference to loss of life by those in command remains incomprehensible.

More than 9 million men were killed in battle. This does not include collateral damage to non-combatants and death by disease or starvation. It paved the way for major political upheaval throughout the world.

Says the movie at the beginning: “The principal statements made by the historical characters in this film are based on documentary evidence, and the words of the songs are those sung by the troops during the First World War.”

The first World War could be called an orchestrated, organized international effort to murder a generation of men. They did a good job.

The statements of the historical characters – all lodged a safe distance from the fighting — are ludicrous. General Haig, looking at the staggering loss of life on both sides, really said: “in the end, the Germans will have 5,000 men and we will have 10,000, so we will have won.”? He said it. And meant it.

The arrival of the Americans and their takeover of the endless war — bringing it to a conclusion while there was still something left to save – is a great cinematic moment. I wonder how long it would have gone on without American involvement? Would Europe exist or would it all be a wasteland?

The war is told with music and dancing. Songs mixed with pithy comments from generals, kings, Kaisers and soldiers. It’s a long movie — 144 minutes — and I can promise you that you will have a far better and more visceral understanding of this war and what those little red poppies the Veterans organizations give out (do they still do that?) to commemorate the war to end all wars. Until the next war. And the one after that.

The music is ghastly, funny, catchy. The movie is out of print. It was only in print for a couple of months. I had been looking for it for a long time and was thrilled to snag a copy. A few copies are still available through Amazon. If you are a history buff and love great movies, grab one.

Great directing, biting sarcastic humor, terrific music and informative, this movie is in a category all by itself. It was unavailable for more than 20 years. You won’t be disappointed and you won’t forget it. In the 45 years since I first saw it, I haven’t forgotten it.


From Amazon.com:

Richard Attenborough’s directorial début was this musical satire that deftly skewers the events of World War I — including the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, a Christmastime encounter between German and British forces, and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles — by portraying them as absurd amusement park attractions. All-star cast includes Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, Maggie Smith, Vanessa Redgrave, Dirk Bogarde, Ralph Richardson; look quickly for Jane Seymour in her screen début.

144 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); English Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English; audio commentary by Attenborough; “making of” documentary.

NOTE: As of a couple of days ago, there were 11 copies remaining.

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WHITE HYDRANGEA AND PINK CRAPE MYRTLE

White flowers are always a challenge for me. When these snow-white Hydrangea threw down the gauntlet, I fought back with my Panasonic Lumix DMC ZS-25.

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Maybe I’ve finally got it?

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It turned out the Crape Myrtle was even more of a challenge.

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It turns out, these huge puffy flowers are hard to get in focus, especially from the long distance I was forced (by fences) to work from.

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CYNICAL ECCENTRICITY: THEY WILL THANK US SOMEDAY

Marilyn Armstrong:

Now that I reread this, it is so relevant, I thought I’d post it again for your “second time around” enjoyment. WordPress, this is what you get for repeating the same prompts. You get the same responses!

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

DAILY PROMPT: QUIRK OF HABIT

Cultivating Eccentricity by Alienorajt

Cultivating an air (or even a full-blown hurricane) of eccentricity should be absolutely de rigueur, in my opinion – especially in those of us past the first flush of youth but still this side of the grave. And, frankly, the more bloody irritating the better! What’s the point in having quirks, foibles and disgusting habits if you don’t use them to shock, embarrass and annoy your loved ones? Wicked waste of talent!

I read this and thought “By George, she’s got it!”

After a certain age, charm is a waste of time. Being nice to people just gets you ignored and classified as a “harmless old lady,” which is far beyond annoying and ventures in the realm of things that make me go psycho.

Being odd is annoying, but properly applied, it is an equal opportunity irritant. Blurting out non sequiturs at…

View original 297 more words

WHICH NUMBER IS AGE?

Age Old Question — “Age is just a number,” says the well-worn adage. But is it a number you care about, or one you tend (or try) to ignore?


Are you serious or just young? Because no one over 65 would posit a question like this without also laughing hysterically, possibly falling down and breaking a hip.

Photo: Debbie Stone

Photo: Debbie Stone

Age it isn’t a number, per se. But it’s a number which will tell you when you can stop pulling the plow and collect your pension. Otherwise, it’s more like an ache in your back, a bag full of medications, and more doctor appointments on the calendar than parties.

It’s being tired, but never sleeping soundly but getting to stay up as late as you want and sleeping in. Every day, if you choose.

It’s discovering you can’t do “that” — whatever that is — anymore. Your brain is fine, but your body persists in arguing about everything and worst of all, winning most of the battles. It’s finally having plenty of time, but being always short of money. Lots of time to travel, but not much motivation to tackle airports and long car trips. It’s also discovering the joys of being home. Of having a home.

It’s realizing you’re smarter, wiser, more experienced than the kids and grandkids, but they don’t want to know about it. So you get to watch them make exactly the same mistakes you made. If they are of a creative bent, you can watch them make a whole bunch of unique (and sometimes weird) mistakes you never imagined and which, if they weren’t so destructive (or it were some other kids about whom you didn’t care) you’d find hilarious.

And with an inevitability like day following night, after using their creativity to shoot themselves in both feet … they will ask to borrow money. (Note: Loans to children and grand-children are not loans. They are permanent grants-in-aid.) Or perhaps move into your guest room. Or leave their dog/cat/guinea pigs with you “just until they get their lives sorted out.”

Life does not prepare you for getting older. Nothing prepares you for getting older. No matter how smart you are, it always takes you by surprise.

The best part of oldness? Not caring what the younger ones think. And, if you are lucky, you get to say (or just think) “Ha! You’ll see! Your time will come.” If they are lucky.

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THE LAST CHINESE LILY

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I planted a lot of them. In yellow, scarlet, orange, purple. After several bad winters and a few years of partial neglect, followed by complete neglect, there is exactly one Chinese lily remaining. it is deep pink. And obviously very hardy.

My last red lily

My last red lily

 

AND MILES TO GO BEFORE WE SLEEP

Road Tripping – ‘Tis the season for road trips — if time and money were out of the equation, what car-based adventure would you go on? (If you don’t or can’t drive, any land-based journey counts.)


We’re a road tripping sort of country. Our rail system is not nearly as good as Europe’s and we love our cars.

Personally, we’re less enamored of cars than we were. Maybe because we can’t afford luxury cars or because the price of gasoline is so high. Or the idea of spending all those endless hours in a car doesn’t sound like fun.

But wait! The WordPress folks are offering to cover all the expenses! So let’s get started. Stretch limo and driver. Get the road atlas. America, here we come.

Arrangements to be made. Someone has to be here to take care of the dogs. And we have to renew all our medications so we don’t run out. I hope the motels have decent beds. Better bring our own pillows.

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What else? These days, we take more gear than clothing!

  • Cameras
  • Computers
  • Cell phone
  • Kindles
  • Electric toothbrush
  • Chargers for everything
  • Extra batteries
  • Extension cords
  • Tripod

Clothing. Who knows what the weather is going to be? We’re covering a lot of territory, so we need to be ready for anything and everything. We’d better bring warm clothing for the mountains. Nights are likely to be chilly. And rain gear, comfortable shoes. Sandals, maybe boots too. Bathing suits? From desert to mountain, hot and humid coastline and everything in between.

Oh, you want to know where we’re going? To see America. Outbound via the northern route across the Rockies, while the weather holds. Down the west coast — Washington through Oregon to California. Long stay in San Francisco, then south through Carmel and Monterey to Hollywood. We have studios to see!

To the southwest, now. A good friend in Arizona beckons. At least a week there. Maybe all of us can take the limo to Monument Valley, see where John Ford shot all those westerns!

Superstition Mtns Arizona

Off to New Orleans. We were there before Katrina. I guess it’s not going to be quite the same city, but we aren’t the same people either. 1997 seems an eternity ago. Sexy, sinful New Orleans … great food, music and some say, vampires.

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We’re tired, but we have people to visit in Florida. Then we’ll head up the east coast stopping to see friends and family along the way. The final hop to home. Sleeping all the way from New York to our front door. Too weary to care about anything.

How long were we gone? Seems like forever … or no time at all. Oh, right. We haven’t left yet. Even in a the limo of our imagination, a lot of miles.

Maybe we’ll just take a little trip to Maine. The rest of America can wait.

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SUM-SUM-SUMMERTIME

Summer Lovin’ – Weekly Photo Challenge

Show us something you love. It could be your favorite novel, the light of the moon on your deck at night, the beach on a hot day, or that special you-know-who. Get creative!


There is so much to love about the summer. Beaches and boats, bonfires and parties on the lawn. These are a few of my favorite things … and people, too.


Sherm Feller, who wrote Summertime, Summertime was an old pal of Garry’s as well as the public address announcer at Fenway Park for many years. He was known for playing the song regularly over the speakers at the park.

THROUGH FAIR AND FOUL

On Bees and Efs

I’ve had the same best friend for more than 40 years. I hope we live forever, so we can always be friends. She’s the one who knows me. She makes the sun shine for me.

Cherrie and Marilyn

I know her. We make each other laugh. We put up with each other’s tantrums, sympathize — empathize — with one another’s illnesses, worries, pain. Family crises. Quirks and weird idiosyncrasies.

We’ve know each other so long and so well, and survived such long separations, we don’t need to explain stuff. We know. We get each other.

Sometimes we talk daily. And then, weeks may pass without a phone call or email. It doesn’t matter. We haven’t forgotten.

We could never forget. Not while there’s life in the body and electrical impulses in the brain.

SOUR CHERRIES AND HAPPY FACE

Bad days are like sour cherries. Even in a great batch of fruit, you hit some duds. As you munch, you’re going to get some berries that are overripe, sour, or bitter. You bite into them, make a face, and put them aside. You don’t eat them because they don’t taste good.

Life is like this. Day follows day. Some days suck.

Yesterday sucked. Finding I’d been hacked, that our money was gone. That after being so careful, we were back in the red through no fault of our own. It put me into a lousy mood.

I did not feel a Pollyanna urge to discover a bright side. I was pissed off. Outraged at what happened, doubly so by the cavalier way the bank made me feel marginalized and helpless in the face of their corporate indifference.

me with debbie's camera

I suppose I could have smiled on through, but I didn’t want to, anymore than I feel like eating the sour cherries. I had every right to be angry and saw no reason to pretend otherwise.

Was I wrong?

I don’t think so. The people who care about us will understand, cut us some slack. Leave us space to get over what’s bothering us and what’s more, they should. You’d do it for them, wouldn’t you?

The whole “stay positive” thing is out of control. If the proponents of permanent smiles are to be taken seriously, no one will ever frown again. No tears, no sadness, no anger. Ever. There will be one acceptable emotion. Happiness. We will all wear a Happy Face. Happy, happy, happy. No matter what. Has anyone read or seen The Stepford Wives?

So, what’s your problem? Losing your home to foreclosure? Got cancer? Heart Disease? No job? No prospects? Don’t be mad or sad. You’ll be fine. No matter what those doctors are saying, no matter that you don’t have a place to live. Or a life. Or a future.

According to the proponents of Happy Face, no problem is so big it can’t be overcome with a positive attitude and a bright smile. I’m betting most of the people who believe in Happy Face have never confronted an intractable problem. One day, their fake smiles will catch up with them. They will crash and burn. The corners of their mouths will turn down and their faces will shatter on impact.

I’m not suggesting we all walk around sneering, sulking, and grumpy, but we need to be allowed to express what we actually feel. Otherwise, life is a total fake.

IT’S ONLY A PAPER MOON, ELLA FITZGERALD

Musical Marker - We all have songs that remind us of specific periods and events in our lives. Twenty years from now, which song will remind you of the summer of 2014?


It’s been a long time since I followed pop music. For a long time, when it was all rap and hip-hop, I didn’t like it and didn’t listen to it. Now, to a large extent, I’ve gone back to listening to the music I grew up with.

Classical music. Beethoven. Mozart. And the romantics — Chopin. Bach. We do listen to some golden oldies from our younger days too. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and the Beatles. Folk, some country. Quite a mix, really.

But nothing will connect me to this time and place except one song. It has — quite out of the blue — become a symbol of this warm, bright summer. I’ve used it twice in posts and I’ll put it here, just once more with the lyrics.

There is something about the words that seem to target my reality. Maybe it will touch your, too.


 

It’s Only A Paper Moon

Say, it’s only a paper moon
Sailing over a cardboard sea
But it wouldn’t be make-believe
If you believed in me

Yes, it’s only a canvas sky
Hanging over a muslin tree
But it wouldn’t be make-believe
If you believed in me

Without your love
It’s a honky-tonk parade
Without your love
It’s a melody played in a penny arcade

It’s a Barnum and Bailey world
Just as phony as it can be
But it wouldn’t be make-believe
If you believed in me

Say, it’s only a paper moon
Sailing over a cardboard sea
But it wouldn’t be make-believe
If you believed in me

Yes, it’s only a canvas sky
Hanging over a muslin tree
But it wouldn’t be make-believe
If you believed in me

Without your love
It’s a honky-tonk parade
Without your love
It’s a melody played in a penny arcade

It’s a Barnum and Bailey world
Just as phony as it can be
But it wouldn’t be make-believe
If you believed in me

It’s phony it’s plain to see
How happy I would be
If you believed in me.

Songwriters
KAMMERMEIER, ARNO / HAYO, PETER / MERZIGER, WALTER

Published by
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, EMI Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., S.A. MUSIC, NEXT DECADE ENTERTAINMENT,INC.

 

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1788 FORGE HOUSE MONOCHROMES

It is on the corner of Route 140 and Chestnut Street in Upton. I don’t know who maintains it, but somebody takes pretty good care of it. Maybe it’s the state, perhaps some private party has undertaken its upkeep.

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It was a shoemaker’s shop from 1788 until 1938, when it became a forge. It is still known as “Forge House.” It has remained essentially unchanged since its conversion in the 1930s.

JAMES LEE BURKE TALKS ABOUT HIS FICTION, HISTORY, AND THE AMERICAN DREAM

Abandoning the badasses in his usual Louisiana haunts, the Edgar-winning author crafts his first historical novel about oil, movies, and the American Dream.

Like Babe Ruth, late in his career, pointing toward the center field bleachers at Wrigley Field before sending a ball soaring out of the stadium, James Lee Burke has managed, in one swift maneuver, to confirm and enhance his legacy. At the age of 77, the Edgar Award-winning crime novelist has written his best book.

Wayfaring Stranger is unlike Burke’s previous novels, yet it contains enough vintage Burke passages of pyrotechnical prose to light up the page, and remind the reader whose work rests in his hands. The historical novel introduces its protagonist, Weldon Holland, as a child growing up in rural Texas where he has a chance encounter with Bonnie and Clyde. From there we follow him through the combat of World War II, the rescue of a Jewish woman from a death camp, the rise of the commercial oil industry, and the lights, camera, and action of Hollywood nights.

American history has always been in the background of Burke’s crime novels, butWayfaring Stranger is his first work of historical fiction. The genre change serves Burke’s writing well, and it could not have come at a better time.

Source: www.thedailybeast.com

I haven’t read it yet, but it’s up next! I have been a big fan of Burke’s writing for more than 20 years. Unlike some other authors I could name, he actually writes his books himself. He isn’t a franchise. He’s an author and a brilliant one.

I’m also glad he wrote something other than another Dave Robicheaux detective novel. I love Dave and Clete, but they are getting a bit long in the tooth. Clearly James Lee Burke is more than a little tired of his characters and I have suspected for a while he was continuing to write them only because readers love them and the publisher finds them highly profitable.

I’m glad — despite pressure — he has written something fresh and new.

See on Scoop.itBooks, Writing, and Reviews

THE BOTTOM LINE

ADULT VISION – The Daily Post - As a kid, you must have imagined what it was like to be an adult. Now that you’re a grownup (or becoming one), how far off was your idea of adult life? 


I don’t think any kid has an accurate idea of what being “grown up” is about.

I imagined it was all about freedom. Finally not having to take orders from parents, teachers, and every other adult in the world.

It turns out that adult bosses were even less fun and everything was ultimately about money. Working for it. Saving it. Using it well. Building a career that would support the life one wanted. So your family can have a home and nice things to go with it.

I rebelled against it, the whole concept … and went off to do my own thing, dragging my son with me. I took a sharp right turn into unexplored territory. And it did indeed give me a great deal of satisfaction, not to mention many experiences that were beyond price. But I still had to work and money was still the bottom line. monopoly

Money is the issue, unless you have so much you never have to worry about it — an experience I’ve never had. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but having enough will buy physical comfort, peace of mind, and a good chunk of freedom to do as one pleases.

When I was little, I remember hearing my parents talking in soft voices at night behind their closed door. I wondered what exciting things they were discussing. Would I ever have such adult conversations in my life?

Yup. Because they were usually talking about money. How to earn it, how to spend it. What they needed. What they might be able to afford for themselves, for us. That’s the basic issue of adulthood in this modern world. Maybe it has always been this way as long as there has been such a thing as money.

The freedom I was looking for definitely is part of reaching ones majority … but so are all the responsibilities I never considered. And having to work, even when it isn’t fun and not what you wanted to do. And the worry that goes with it.

Next time around the wheel, I’ll try to get it right and better. I’ll give myself a solid B minus on this round. Probably an overly generous assessment.