SHARING MY WORLD – PARADES, TRADITIONS, AND A JOKE – WEEK 28

Share Your World – 2014 Week 28

Have you ever been a participant in a parade? What did you do?

In 1992 and 1993, Garry and I were the honorary “King and Queen” of the Shriner’s Rodeo. I loved it. Wish we could do it again. We got to ride out at a gallop, then ride around the arena. The hardest part was controlling the horse and not falling off.

It was what got Garry interested in riding and for the next several years, we took lessons and went riding every chance we got.

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If you were handed free opera tickets, would you go or sell them? Why?

I’m not fond of opera, though I like operetta, especially Gilbert & Sullivan. I wouldn’t sell the tickets. I’d give them to someone who likes opera. Ballet I would go to see. I originally planned to be a ballerina, but it didn’t work out.

Why did you start your blog?

Like so many others, as a place to show off my thousands of pictures … and maybe do some writing that someone other than family members and friends might read it. It turned to be a lot more than I expected.

What is your favorite tradition? (family tradition, church tradition, whatever)

Pretty much all our personal traditions revolve around movies and shopping.

We watch “The Quiet Man” on St. Patrick’s Day. It reminds us of our honeymoon in Ireland, when we hunted down the locations where John Ford shot the movie. We watch the fireworks at the Boston Hatch Shell on the 4th of July (these days on television, in the old days from our balcony in Boston), then watch “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”

From Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, we watch our favorites holiday movies including “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “A Christmas Story,” and “Miracle on 34th Street.” Our own private film festival until we run out of holiday-themed movies.

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When Christmas is over, we go shopping. Got to love those post-Christmas sales. We get what we want at half price or less. It’s fun, something we can do together.

We also try to get into Boston at least once during December to see the Boston Pops concert and I can take some night shots of the city.

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Speaking of traditions, we like to shop together at seasonal sales. Like we did yesterday for the big “end of summer” sales. Maybe you didn’t know summer is over, but in retail, it’s already autumn.

We didn’t buy much, but got stuff we like. We will enjoy using it especially because we paid 75% less than regular price. Garry and I were brought up to believe only fools pay full price. W exalt in our bargains.

AND NOW, IT’S TIME FOR A FUNNY STORY

Herb’s buddy George comes up to him after work and says “Hey, Herb! Have I got a deal for you!”

“What’s the deal?” Herb asks.

“I can get you an elephant for $100!”

Herb looks baffled. “George, buddy, I have no idea what in the world I would do with an elephant. What, ride him to work? Let him graze in the back yard? Don’t be ridiculous.”

And George says: “I can get you two elephants for $150!”

“NOW you’re talking,” says Herb.

Neighbors and Old Friends – Marilyn Armstrong

Friends come in many sizes and shapes. Horses, dogs, cats and other warm fuzzy creatures give our lives texture and joy … and old things holding memories of other times and places … these too become friends, holding our memories and reminding us of the lives we have lived and things we have done.

Old Number 2 is one of Uxbridge‘s oldest fire trucks. Long out of service, he still has his own place, standing through the years and seasons in a field across from the post office. He’s become my old friend, put out to pasture but like me, remembering his glory days.

Old Number 2 in summer … with some special effects just because.

Seasons come and go, but Number 2 waits patiently. I visit him. He has many stories to tell and I listen so he will be less lonely and know no everyone has forgotten him.

Horses in the pasture, friendly and hoping for snack, an apple or a carrot maybe …

Retired now, she grazes in a pleasant pasture in the company of her friends and the goats in the adjacent pasture. Do they share their memories?

With a shake of her mane, the pony companion enjoys the autumn weather with an old pal.

Still beautiful, she poses with her good side, elegant in her peaceful paddock.

It’s a fine day to be a horse. Or a human.

Tinker, one of our two PBGVs romps now at the Bridge, but here, her big black nose pokes through the picket fence of our front yard. Just saying hello!

Tinker’s big black nose — a perfect nose for such a hound as this Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen hound nose — pokes through our pickets. She’s gone to the Bridge, but lives on in our hearts and her tooth marks remain forever embedded in our furniture, shoes, remote controls and paranoid nightmares of destruction.

Griffin, our big boy PBGV died last winter, as did Tinker. He was my personal cuddle puppy, full of joy and humor. He always made me laugh and the more I laughed, the more he would act the clown. Never has a dog enjoyed making people laugh more than Griffin. A marathon barker, entertainer par excellence, he was the best.

Many of our fur children have gone to the bridge, but they are never forgotten. More of them  on other days, I promise.

One autumn day, in a rare family project, we made a couple of friends of our own … classic New England symbols of Autumn and the harvest. We made them from yard sale clothing, two bales of hay, and their painted faces on old pillow cases were created by Kaity and Stefania … at that brief period as they were transitioning from girls to young women.

Some friends we made ourselves to celebrate the harvest and the season, sitting on a bench, backed by flowering bushes and shaded by oaks.

Finally, we meet the farmer’s old truck. He stands in a field around the corner, behind the fire station … an old friend put out to pasture, holding too many fond memories to send him to a junk yard. Instead, he stands ever waiting if he should  be called back to duty.

Just this, no more, all within a mile of home. It IS home.

LOVING THE WESTERNS

Western movies. You love them or hate them. Hardly anyone is neutral. I’ve always loved them, since I was a little girl, pretending to be a cross between The Lone Ranger and Jesse James.

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But why? What is it about westerns that makes them so appealing to those of us that love them?

Let’s work this as a list, top to bottom. Remember, this is my list. You may have a completely different list and totally not relate to mine. That’s okay.

Why I love Western Movies

1) Horses. I love horses. The more horses, the better. You could leave out the riders and I would sit there and watch the horses, no problem.

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2) Scenery. The deserts, the mountains, the plains. The dusty trail as the wagon train rolls westward. The Rocky Mountains looming, challenging. Sunsets over Monument Valley. Some of the most incredible cinematography has been done for westerns. From Ride the High Country to almost anything ever filmed by John Ford. To the dusty streets of Tombstone … the big sky hangs over everything, a huge blue dome. Everything is bigger, brighter, younger. The beauty is hard to match and it goes so well with the eye of the camera.

Dusty Streets of Tombstone

3) Simple ethics, simple philosophy. There is something terribly appealing about a world where the excuse “He needed killing” is an actual defense at trial. You can put a lot of violence into a western and it’s just fine. The bad guys wear black hats, figuratively or literally. The good guys are the ones with the nice horses, better clothing … and white hats. No ambivalence. No confusion. Not at all like the real world made up of endless shades of gray. It’s a black and white world, black and white morality. “He needed killing. So I killed him.” I get that.

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4) Heroes. This is really a continuation of the previous, but Wyatt Earp kills a lot of people and it’s okay. I can cheer him on as he and Doc Holliday rampage through the west. “Yes!!” I cry, waving my fist in the air. I could never kill anyone, but I can be really grateful that someone else is doing it for me. In real life, I favor gun control. In westerns? Blast away!

Ghost Town by Apache Junction

If the movie also has a good plot, terrific sound track, great cinematography? Some wit, cleverness and even a few laughs? Bonus material.

That’s it. Pretty simple, eh? Horses, gorgeous scenery, good guys being good, bad guys being bad. Add music, dim the lights and pass the popcorn.

 

Reviewing the Oldies: Along Came Jones (1945)

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I love western movies. I love horses. I love to laugh. What’s better than a funny western? Not much in my opinion.

My favorite — but little-celebrated — movies are western comedies. It isn’t the most popular movie genre, yet there are a reasonable number worth watching. Almost everybody has seen City Slickers and Blazing Saddles. How many people remember Cat Ballou, or have seen Rustler’s Rhapsody? Both charming and very funny movies. Lee Marvin got his only Academy Award for his role in Cat Ballou. On acceptance, he gave credit to his horse who deserved it. But I digress.

Along Came Jones is funny, but it’s gentle and sweet. It’s a love story with Loretta Young as the romantic interest, with Cooper in a role that it pokes fun at westerns and Coop himself without being mean-spirited. The plot is the basic mistaken-identity tale. Easygoing and slightly inept Melody Jones (Gary Cooper) and his friend George (William Demarest) ride into a town. Jones is mistaken for a badass bandit named Monte Jarrad (Dan Duryea) mostly because he has the same initials on his saddle. The mixup earns him a lot of unexpected respect (which he likes) then rapidly changes to trouble and finally love. The real Jarrad is hiding out in the home of his girlfriend Cherry (Loretta Young). In the beginning, she uses Melody to send the law off in the wrong direction, but as she gets to know Jones, her feelings change. There is a happy ending for all.

Cover of "Along Came Jones (Sub)"

Gary Cooper produced the movie and put his own money into it. It gave him a chance to be something other than the grim hero he so often played. In this, he is a lighter and more humorous version of his typical role. It was the only feature film Cooper produced during his more than 40-year movie career and Melody Jones was his favorite role. It’s easy to see why.

It’s a rare feel-good movie that isn’t trite. Cooper poking fun at Cooper is amusing without being over the top. His slow-talking, aw shucks style is perfect. This is an oldie that doesn’t play very often on cable, but it does pop up on Turner Classic Movies from time to time. If you find it, it’s worth watching. If you get TCM, you can find out when it’s playing on their website.

It has stood the test of time surprisingly well. You can see where financial corners were cut, but it doesn’t matter. The movie is character-driven and the scenery is just a stage set.  When we got a DVD player, it was the first movie I bought. It’s available at Amazon in combination with other Cooper movies and rather expensively on its own.

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There’s no fancy cinematography, no nudity, cussin’, or graphic violence. A bit of shooting, no gobs of blood flowing. The tension won’t raise your blood pressure. It’s got some laughs and lots of smiles.  It’s a pleasant way to dump reality and visit a version of the old west that never was.

From Garry Armstrong, AKA “The Movie Maven”:

I spotted “Jones” when I was surfin’ the overnight movie fare and knew I’d struck gold for both of us. Charlton Heston once told me that Gary Cooper was his favorite actor and inspiration for his own little western “Will Penny”.

Coop was the idol of many, including one young woman in Brooklyn, New York, who decided to name her first-born after the legendary star in 1942. I digress, as usual, when talking about movies. After 15 years of commercial and critical hits, Gary Cooper was top gun at the box office in 1945. One of his favorites was “The Westerner” done 5 years earlier but that was stolen from him by Walter Brennan’s “Judge Roy Bean”.

Cover of "The Westerner"

Cooper loved his character in “The Westerner” and wanted to give him another go on his own terms. Melody Jones would be that guy. A Coop bio I read long ago says he made “Jones” mostly with his own money. Got it released as an independent so he would have last cut rights.

You’ll notice it’s low-budget by the exteriors and “rear projection” scenes, but that hardly matters. Loretta Young also did the movie “for a song”. Coop hand-picked Dan Duryea who was still a very young and aspiring actor with few major film notches, except for “Pride of the Yankees.”

Lane Chandler, one of the bad guys in the film, was originally supposed to do “Wings” (I believe), the silent that gave Coop his big closeup and break for stardom. Coop got that cameo not Chandler — and the rest is history.

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Love that Masked Man — but I’ll skip the movie

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My Lone Ranger wallpaper

The “new” Lone Ranger opens today, but the reviews are already in. In newspapers around the world, the reviews are appalling. Really bad. Not a little bad. Seriously terrible. I had no plans to see it anyway, so these reviews merely confirmed my expectations.

The Lone Ranger Panned and Predicted to be Box Office Poison by Mike Smith gives a pretty good summary of the reviews to date. It’s exactly what I expected. I would have preferred to be wrong. Given the Johnny Depp factor, I expected a travesty and it appears we got one.

Seeing the movie would desecrate the memory of my first true love. If I don’t see it, at least I have my memories.

From my first earliest encounter with The Masked Man and his Faithful Companion, I was in love. There were times when it was unclear whether I loved the horse or the rider. I think Silver had an edge, but I yearned for the both.

To satisfy my passion and because I grew up when wallpaper was something glued to walls, I had Lone Ranger and Tonto in my bedroom. Life was not easy for me, but I had the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains all around me. It helped me through the really dark times.

Other girls had Disney Princesses, but I had “Hi Yo Silver” and “The Lone Ranger.” Although my walls did not play music, I could hum well enough, and I had many a long chat with Lone and Tonto as I lay abed pondering the meaning of life and how I could convince mom to let me have a horse. And hoping I’d discover I was adopted. Because if I were adopted, there was some small hope my real parents would come and take me away. Unlikely, but kids are optimists.

The original Lone Ranger and Tonto — Jay Silverheels and Clayton Moore

Eventually I grew up and out of my wallpaper, but it did not end my allegiance to The Masked Man. Even now, I’ll happily watch the old reruns. Silly? Maybe. But kindly, with some dignity allowed to the characters.

And, whatever else you could say about the show, they managed to cast a real Native American as (gasp) a Native American! More than half a century later, we get Johnny Depp? That’s the best we can do?

Remakes don’t have to be awful, even though they usually are. There have been remakes that are better than the originals. I can name several off the top of my head and probably so can you. It’s not impossible but it requires studios to make an effort to produce quality films. To get a good script and assemble a cast that can do it justice. It’s not that hard to make good movies. Good script, good actors, competent director. Voila! A good movie. They just don’t make a real effort.

My initial delight at learning Disney was making a new Lone Ranger movie changed to dread when I realized Johnny Depp was playing Tonto. We awaited the release of  trailer of the new “Lone Ranger” with foreboding. We were right to worry.

We watched the trailer. After it ended, silence enveloped us. Garry and I, wrapped in our individual thoughts, sat for a while. Thinking. Finally, I turned to Garry and said:  “Let’s wait till it comes to cable.”

He pondered that for a minute or two. “No, he said. “Let’s just wait.”

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