Last night, watching Star Trek: Next Generation, Geordi La Forge (Levar Burton) disobeyed a direct order given by Captain Stewart, er, I mean, Jean-Luc Picard. Although he survived his misadventure — barely, I might add — Picard told Geordi that regretfully, he was going to have to “put this incident on your permanent record!”
Oh my god! His permanent record. Even in Star Fleet, you cannot escape your permanent record. It’s four hundred years in the future and they still have that record.
Back in our golden olden days, the thing that was held over our heads — the veritable Sword of Damocles — was that our bad behavior would go on our permanent record. From elementary school through our working years, we were warned our permanent record would follow us. Marks against us might even (gasp!) prevent us from getting into college at all, in which case we knew we might as well die on the spot. If you didn’t go to college, you would never have a decent job or find someone to love. I knew that right into the marrow of my bones. Didn’t you?
The Permanent Record is (was) (will be) like the Rock of Gibraltar. Huge, unchanging. No matter what we do with our lives, everyone will know about our misdeeds. All they have to do is check the record. They’ll know I sassed my eleventh grade social studies teacher (he deserved it and worse) in May 1962. That Garry ran over his allotted time while reporting a news event in Boston and was not even repentant when confronted with his foul deed! The evil that we do will be revealed.
You might want to see Lamont Cranston, because the Shadow Knows.
So, here’s the deal. Now and forever, every one of us has a permanent record in which all our misbehavior is cataloged. I know because I’ve been told. I’m not sure who has custody of these records, however. As far as I can tell, everyone on the planet has one, so there must be a gigantic storage unit somewhere, where everything is filed. That’s a lot of records to keep.
But they aren’t being stored around here. I’d have noticed a building that big.
I expect when we die, if there actually are Pearly Gates and a gatekeeper who decides if we can enter, he will be clutching a copy of our permanent record in one angelic hand. That’s right. You talked back to your teacher in fifth grade, cut school in high school. Told a professor the dog ate your final paper in college. Now, you won’t go to Heaven.
Sorry buddy. Your permanent record just caught up with you.
A bit of great music from the very young Beatles and an apology.
I can’t do this. It’s a challenge I can’t meet. Maybe I just don’t want to. This is supposed to be a writing challenge. I have no idea how to write in single syllables. I’m doubt I ever did. I can’t even write my name in a single syllable. Or that of my husband.
So, enjoy the Beatles. It’s a song in as close to single syllables as I could find. We very recently watched “Hard Days Night,” and it was as much fun as the first time we saw it. Sing along why don’t you?
Forgetter Be Forgotten?
My forgetters getting better,
But my rememberer is broke
To you that may seem funny
But, to me, that is no joke
For when I’m ‘here’ I’m wondering
If I really should be ‘there’
And, when I try to think it through,
I haven’t got a prayer!
Oft times I walk into a room,
Say ‘what am I here for? ‘
I wrack my brain, but all in vain!
A zero, is my score.
At times I put something away
Where it is safe, but, Gee!
The person it is safest from
Is, generally, me!
When shopping I may see someone,
Say ‘Hi’ and have a chat,
Then, when the person walks away
I ask myself, ‘who the hell was that?
Yes, my forgetters getting better
While my rememberer is broke,
And it’s driving me plumb crazy
And that’s really not a joke.
How come what I remember of the past bears almost no resemblance to the memories of the people I knew while I was growing up? I get notes from people with whom I went to school. High school — even elementary school. I’d swear they went to different schools than I did.
They have wonderful memories of our relationships while I remember them as brats who gave me the cold shoulder. Wouldn’t even talk to me because I wasn’t one of the “cool kids.” I recall them as petty tyrants and bullies, but they swear we were the best of friends. Which is interesting since I’m pretty sure I wasn’t even invited to their parties. Or ever visited them at their homes.
Is it me? Is my memory damaged?
I grew up in the 1950s. I get a dozen emails a week extolling that decade as “the best of the good old days.” I do not remember the 1950s as a better time. Just a different one.
Racism was rampant. Sexism and ageism weren’t even part of our vocabulary. Women and old people were treated horribly and it was just fine because that was the way it was and no one was trying to fix it. They didn’t see it as broken.
It was not a simpler time either. Sure, we had less technology, but we were constantly embroiled in trying to get whatever it was we had to do the job for which it was intended. Our refrigerators were layered in ice, our ovens couldn’t maintain a constant temperature. Our televisions barely registered a signal, even if we were lucky enough to have an antenna on the roof. And people were so happy, they were building bomb shelters in their yards so when someone nuked us, they could survive. Clearly better days.
To my mind, the social issues were no less complex than now. And we were busily polluting our environment. Enthusiastically polluting our environment, I should say. We are still cleaning up the mess we made in those good old days.
Life was not easy. Assuming you had a decent job, your pay probably allowed you to live reasonably well, but a lot of people — anyone of color, for example — was lucky to get a job at all, much less one on which a family could be supported.
Nor was childhood all sunlight and roses. Abuse was common and by a kind of silent, cultural consent, never spoken of. No laws protected us. No agencies would aid us.
A few years ago, Garry went to his 50th high school reunion. He came back shaking his head, wondering what school they went to. It obviously wasn’t the same one he attended. I chose to avoid my high school reunion a couple of years back. I kept getting notes from former classmates about the great years we enjoyed at Jamaica High School.
I don’t have those memories. I remember a racially divided school with bigoted teachers, bullying classmates. Cliques of privileged kids who ostracized anyone who was different. Sad teenagers lost between childhood and a frightening, uncertain future. Hoping for help from counselors who denied the existence of the problems many of us faced at home.
Is it me? Am I the one who is broken?
It’s that time of year. Decision time. What do you want from Santa? Whether you are 7 or 70, there’s stuff you’d like to see under the Christmas tree. Yes, Virginia, I am 72 and still believe I am among Santa’s chosen few.
I’m a big fan of the NCIS TV series, but my wife has cleaned out that store for me. Some days, I’m a walking clone of Leroy Jethro Gibbs. I even stretch my neck in Gibbs fashion. Today it’s real because my back aches something fierce.
So, I’m set with Gibbs stuff. What do I want? Wait for it. Wait for it. It’s from the Geek Love store. My very own At-Home Drone!
I saw it in this past Sunday’s news magazine section. I want it! The Protocol Dronium is remote-controlled. It soars through the air. It snaps photos you can later share via USB connection. It’s only $99. I want it!
I’ll be the NSA deep cover agent in my town and valley. I’ll spot perps before they pull their caper. I’ll share my intel with local leos. I want my drone, Santa!
Dwight Eisenhower was our President-elect the last time I felt so strongly about a Christmas present. My wishes were fulfilled when I found the glistening 2 gun Roy Rogers set under the wonderfully decorated tree that seemed 10 feet tall. My Dad looked 10 feet tall too, as I strapped on my guns.
Dad has been gone a dozen years now, followed by Mom. I’m sure both would agree I deserve this Christmas present.
My own drone.
I’ve been a good boy this year, Santa Baby. Surely, you know I’m counting on you.
(Note from Santa: Don’t call me Shirley.)
I’ve learned a lot over the years. By my calculation, this is my 49th year of making Thanksgiving, not counting a few years when I was a guest at someone else’s table.
I remember when the torch passed and my parents no longer wanted the job. Suddenly, they were just as happy to eat my food. I knew at the time this was a significant change in our relationship, that something important had changed.
Since then — 40 years later — I’ve been making holidays. Although my son does the cooking, or most of it anyhow, he still doesn’t know how to make the holiday. How to set a table, figure out which dishes to use. Which flatware. Whether or not to put out the “good” glassware (but unlike me, he knows on which side the forks go versus the knives).
And despite them being among the easiest recipes in the world, no one but me can make the cranberry sauces.
Things I’ve learned after 49 years of family dinners:
- Don’t get a big centerpiece. It takes up too much room and will be in the way when people are trying to converse.
- Not only do place settings not have to match, making each setting different is a very cool “look” (though I didn’t do it this year).
- No matter how many people you have coming to dinner, there will be much more food than even the hungriest crowd can possibly consume.
- Don’t save the mashed potatoes. No one is going to eat them.
- The turkey will be fully cooked at least an hour before your calculations say it will.
- If you cook the turkey to an internal temperature of 180 degrees, it will taste like sawdust and no amount of gravy will make a difference.
- Buy a fresh turkey, not a frozen one. It’s worth it. Fresh turkey tastes so much better!
- Put a clear plastic cover over your good tablecloth. Your guests won’t mind and gravy does not come out completely, no matter what formula you use to treat the stains.
When I’m feeling ambitious, I get more creative with table settings. I have a lot of “fiesta ware,” bright, solid-color dishes that mix and match with other pottery. I’ve given away my 16-place-setting porcelain. Storing it took up more space than I was willing to devote to something I used maximum twice a year.
I don’t buy expensive stemware. It’s not that kind of crowd.
I don’t bother to point out no one is going to eat that much food. Don’t mention that nine pies for seven guests is a bit much. My daughter-in-law is Italian. I’m Jewish. My husband is Black. Excessive food is a cultural and genetic mandate. Please eat. Please overeat. If you don’t leave the table feeling slightly ill from over-consumption, I haven’t done my job.
The good news? I can put together a nice looking holiday table in under 20 minutes. Add on another half hour because I have to wash everything. I haven’t used it since last Christmas and dust will have its way. Still, that’s pretty good.
Gone are the big floral displays, the fragile serving dishes. The stemware broke and was never replaced. Ditto the serving dishes. A nice table is welcoming. A super fancy, overwhelmingly elegant table is less so and can be off-putting.
Less fuss means I don’t end the holiday exhausted and cranky. I might just survive through Christmas. Imagine that!
Salad Days — Is there a period in your own personal life that you think of as the good old days? Tell us a story about those innocent and/or exciting times (or lack thereof). Note: If WordPress is going to keep repeating the same prompts and themes, I’m going to rework my material. Good for the goose, […]
The first movie I remember seeing with my mom was Gunfight at OK Corral. It was a busy day at the Utopia on Union Turnpike in Queens. Not a big theater, especially back when movie theaters were palatial.
There were hardly any seats left when we got there, having walked 2.5 miles from home. I had a non-driving mom who was a subscriber to healthy outdoor exercise. We did a lot of walking — she with enthusiasm and I because I had no choice.
We found a seat in the second row, from which vantage point Burt and Kirk had heads 20 feet high. It left an indelible mark on my mind. I became an O.K. Corral aficionado, catching each new version of the story as it was cranked out of Hollywood.
When movies became available on video, I caught up with all the earlier versions, too.
I stayed with “Gunfight” as my favorite for a long time. Maybe I’m just fond of Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. Garry generally favored “My Darling Clementine” but he is a John Ford fan. We have our preferences and they aren’t logical.
In 1993, along came “Tombstone.” One viewing and it was my favorite version of the gunfight story. A few more viewings and it morphed into our mutual favorite version of the OK corral and one of our top 5 westerns of all time.
I don’t love it for its historical accuracy. As do all the Wyatt Earp – Doc Holliday movies, it omits more than it includes. The Earps were wild and crazy guys, a lot wilder and crazier than even the wildest, craziest portrayal Hollywood has yet put on the screen. Add Doc Holliday — who was a real nutter, a charming, psychopathic killer — and you have a seriously lethal bunch of guys.
There were quite a few other Earp brothers who are always left out of the story, maybe because they didn’t go into the peacekeeping business. Daddy Earp was a real piece of work and deserves a movie of his own. Although I tend to be persnicketty about historical details, I’m not when I watch westerns. No percentage in it. They are all wildly inaccurate.
Tombstone has a perfect balance of classic western ingredients. Justice, revenge, violence, horses, great lines, wit, drama, humor, excellent cinematography and enough mythology to make me go “Yeah!!”
Quotes of the Day:
Curly Bill: [takes a bill with Wyatt’s signature from a customer and throws it on the faro table]
Wyatt Earp: Curly Bill, huh? I heard of you.
Ike Clanton: Listen, Mr. Kansas Law Dog. Law don’t go around here. Savvy?
Wyatt Earp: I’m retired.
Curly Bill: Good. That’s real good.
Ike Clanton: Yeah, that’s good, Mr. Law Dog, ’cause law don’t go around here.
Wyatt Earp: I heard you the first time. [flips a card]
Wyatt Earp: Winner to the King, five hundred dollars.
Curly Bill: Shut up, Ike.
Doc Holliday: That’s the rumor.
Johnny Ringo: You retired too?
Doc Holliday: Not me. I’m in my prime.
Johnny Ringo: Yeah, you look it.
Doc Holliday: And you must be Ringo. Look, darling, Johnny Ringo. The deadliest pistoleer since Wild Bill, they say. What do you think, darling? Should I hate him?
Kate: You don’t even know him.
Doc Holliday: Yes, but there’s just something about him. Something around the eyes, I don’t know, reminds me of… me. No. I’m sure of it, I hate him.
Wyatt Earp: [to Ringo] He’s drunk.
Doc Holliday: In vino veritas. [“In wine is truth” meaning: “When I’m drinking, I speak my mind”]
Johnny Ringo: Age quod agis. [“Do what you do” meaning: “Do what you do best”]
Doc Holliday: Credat Judaeus apella, non ego. [“The Jew Apella may believe it, not I” meaning: “I don’t believe drinking is what I do best.”]
Johnny Ringo: [pats his gun] Eventus stultorum magister. [“Events are the teachers of fools” meaning: “Fools have to learn by experience”]
Doc Holliday: [gives a Cheshire cat smile] In pace requiescat. [“Rest in peace” meaning: “It’s your funeral!”]
Tombstone Marshal Fred White: Come on boys. We don’t want any trouble in here. Not in any language.
Doc Holliday: Evidently Mr. Ringo’s an educated man. Now I really hate him.
Tombstone is deliciously violent. The gunfight at O.K. corral is merely the beginning. There’s a deeply satisfying amount of killing to follow. I revel in it. When Kurt Russell declares that he’s coming for them and Hell will follow … I am there. Yes, kill the bad guys.
It’s so cathartic! The only piece of armament I’ve ever owned is my Daisy Red Ryder BB gun and a 22 caliber target rifle, but I can pretend. And I’m a dead shot with the rifle and have slaughtered paper plates and other inanimate targets from New York to northern Maine.
I have a rich and rewarding fantasy life.
Thank you Tombstone!