TRUE GLORY: THE REAL WAR – FROM D-DAY TO V-E DAY

Cover of "The True Glory - From D-Day to ...

From the Imperial War Museum Official Collection

The True Glory: From D-Day to V-E Day (1945)

The movie’s title is taken from a letter of Sir Francis Drake “There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the True Glory.”

Question: Which President won an Oscar?

Answer: No, not Ronald Reagan. The 1945 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature went to its uncredited producer, General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower didn’t merely produce the movie. He also directed the Allied forces of Word War II, a feat which deserved its own Oscar. So we gave him the presidency. It was the best America had to offer.


A co-production of the US Office of War Information and the British Ministry of Information, The True Glory documents the victory on the Western Front, from the invasion at Normandy to the collapse of the Third Reich.

The officially credited director was Garson Kanin. British director Carol Reed was not officially credited, but is listed as director on IMDB and other sources. Paddy Chayefsky is the officially listed writer.

Other writers not officially credited are Harry Brown, Frank Harvey, Gerald Kersh, Saul Levitt, Arthur Macrae, Eric Maschwitz, Jenny Nicholson, Guy Trosper and Peter Ustinov. So many people were involved in this remarkable documentary — which received the Oscar for best documentary in 1945 — it’s impossible to list them all.

General Eisenhower speaks with members of the ...

General Eisenhower speaks with members of the 101st Airborne Division on the evening of 5 June 1944 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The film was brilliantly edited down from more than 10 million feet of film taken by hundreds of war photographers, none of whom are credited.

The editing involved is extraordinary. During one long segment of film, there must have been thousands of cuts, each less than 2 seconds in length, most no more than one second long. That is a lot of splicing. It’s beautifully done, professional all the way.

You have likely seen many propaganda films from World War II. This isn’t one of them.

I’ve seen a lot of war movies. This is real war, not the Hollywood version.

English: Senior American military officials of...

Senior American military officials World War II.

The effects were not done with a computer. The bodies of the dead are the bodies of soldiers, not actors. The guns are firing ammunition, not special effects. The ships are on the seas. The aircraft, pilots, bombardiers are the real deal. The battles are life and death in real-time. It gave me the shivers.

As the movie progresses, there are maps so you can follow the progress of the various armies. It’s the first time I actually understood where the Battle of the Bulge took place and why it was called “the bulge.” It was like time travel for me, listening to Dwight D. Eisenhower. I grew up when Eisenhower was President. I remember his voice as the voice of the president of my childhood.

Perhaps it’s a good moment to ponder whether or not Eisenhower displayed his Oscar in the White House. My guess is, he didn’t. After you’ve been commander-in-chief of the Allied forces for a world war, the Oscar isn’t as big a deal as it might be for someone else.

English: Gen. of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower...

If you have not seen this movie and you have an interest in World War II, you should see it. It’s remarkable. It is now available on a 2-disc DVD. The set includes the European war, the Italian campaign and the battles in the Pacific.

There are many good movies about the war, but this set of documentaries has the most remarkable footage. Seeing it without any Hollywood manufactured footage is seeing it for the first time.

This is not a movie about the war. This movie is the war.

True Grit (2010)

True_Grit_PosterHaving just watched the 1969 version of the film starring John Wayne, I thought it was time to see the remake. I usually avoid remakes of favorite movies, and the original True Grit is a favorite. I have always thought it was the Duke’s best performance, portraying a character full of life and humor.

I made an exception for this particular remake. I figured if anyone could do a credible Rooster Cogburn, Jeff Bridges was the guy to do it. So the day after watching the original, we fired up the Roku, popped over to Netflix and selected True Grit.

Ahead of shooting, Ethan Coen said that the film would be a more faithful adaptation of the novel than the 1969 version. It’s partly a matter of the perspective from which we see the story unfold. The book is written from the point of view of a 14-year-old girl. Thus, it has a certain feel to it, very different from th first movie which was clearly skewed to a John Wayne sensibility.

The book is known for being funnier than the original movie … but the remake is not lighter or more humorous than the original movie. It may be more faithful to the book in some ways, but honestly, I didn’t see a huge difference in attitude, perspective or even the story from the first movie. In fact, the two movies are different … but not hugely different. Different scripts, actors and so on with the differences that inevitably arise from these changes, but in fact, the remake is darker and more violent than the 1969 movie. It is not only darker in feeling, it’s visually darker and a great deal of the action takes place at night.

A Grievance – Slight Digression

This makes It hard on the eyes when viewed on television and I really wish the people who press the DVDs would take into consideration that watching on the big screen and watching at home are two very different visual experiences. Lighten it up when you put it on DVD please. And rebalance the audio so the sound effects and music do not completely overwhelm the voices … requiring closed captions to have any idea what anyone is saying. This is especially annoying, especially when I’ve just paid a premium for Blu-ray.

Television does not render darkness as well as big screens do. But movies these days don’t spend much time in theatres. They have them out on DVD faster than a speeding bullet, often before they’ve finished their first theatrical run. Considering that the majority of a movie’s life will be on DVD, shown at home on smaller screens, directors might take that into consideration and brighten these movies up a bit. I don’t want to put a damper on anyone’s art, but shouldn’t the actual viewing conditions under which most people will see the picture carry some weight? I’m just saying.

And now, back to our main feature, already in progress

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Much of the original movie’s dialogue is identical in the 2010 version. The best and most important scenes in both versions are word for word the same. Between those signature scenes, the dialogue is different. The character of Cogburn is very similar in some way, but very different in others. Wayne’s taciturn old marshal contrasts sharply with Jeff Bridges’ loquacious  version whose Rooster Cogburn talks a blue streak.

Hailee Steinfield’s Mattie Ross is more like her original character than Bridges’ Cogburn is like Wayne’s.

None of this is real criticism. This is a good movie on its own merits. It stands on its own legs. Obviously the two movies derive from the same source, but despite large amounts of identical dialogue, the two movies feel very different. If you had never seen the original and didn’t compare them, I would simply say the 2010 True Grit is a good western with fine performances.

But it’s a remake and there’s no avoiding comparisons. It may not be entirely fair, but it’s inevitable. Some of the scenes, when the dialogue is the same in both, are not only played the same way — Bridges even manages to do the “Duke’s walk” — they are shot the same way. Several key scenes are pretty much identical, frame by frame. Then, the movies diverge only to come together again a bit further down the  cinematic path. The convergence-divergence pattern can be disconcerting.

Regardless, you could never mistake this for an old-fashioned western.Its gritty, dark texture is typical of modern westerns. It isn’t necessarily an improvement, but it’s a constant visible reminder that this is a recent film, not an older one.

Characters are less heroic and more ambivalent. True Grit makes a moderately successful attempt to integrate both old and new, moving back and forth, mixing John Ford with Clint Eastwood. Sometimes it feel a bit disconnected and jumpy, leaping from familiar dialogue common to both movies, to completely different dialogue and mood … with no bridge. Whoa, I cry … where are we now? The sudden shifts might actually be a continuity and/or editing issue, but as a member of the audience, I can’t tell the why of it, only discuss the result.

TRUE GRIT

There’s no cheery ending for the new True Grit. It’s not sad, but it’s not happy either.

If I had to choose, I prefer the original, but the remake is a good movie too. Jeff Bridges is a great actor. The entire cast is excellent. Perhaps the comparison is unfair and it’s better to take each movie on its own merits. That being said, I am not likely to watch the 2010 True Grit a second time. Too grim for my taste, though I appreciated the art that went into its making.

How you feel about each movie is of course subjective. Two good films, genetically related. Take your pick. You won’t go far wrong either way.

Garry Armstrong: The Movie Maven’s Take

Reading Marilyn’s review of the True Grit remake, the obvious occurred to me. I am a child of the old school of movies. My heroes and heroines are the stars from the 30′s, 40′s, 50′s and 60′s. My film morality sensibilities have been shaped and nurtured by movies from Hollywood’s “golden era” through the 60′s. Not surprisingly, John Wayne is probably my favorite movie star. “Star” not actor. I thoroughly enjoyed Wayne’s “True Grit”.

His “Rooster Cogburn” was a sum of all the heroes Wayne had played for 40 years. Older, fatter and more prone to corn liquor, Rooster’s sense of morality was still pretty simple. There was good and bad and few in-betweens. Wayne nailed all that with a self-deprecating sense of humor. Wayne was Rooster and Rooster was Wayne. The original’s end with Rooster frozen in frame and time as he and his horse leap a fence is “print the legend” stuff.  Veteran director Henry Hathaway (“The Sons of Katie Elder”, etc), is in familiar territory and gives the original “Grit” lots of traditional, old school western flavor.

All that said, Jeff Bridges’ Rooster Cogburn in the “True Grit” remake is also memorable and can stand alone. Jeff Bridges as an actor can stand alone. He invests his own irascible charm into “Rooster” while paying homage to the Duke. Matt Damon’s “LaBeouf” is much better and more complex than Glenn Campbell’s Texas Ranger in the original. Josh Brolin gives Tom Chaney much more depth and compassion than acting school guru Jeff Corey gave the original villain. I still prefer Robert Duvall’s “Lucky Ned Pepper” but Barry (“61″) Pepper is also pretty good in the remake.

The remake gives us an extended look at Mattie with an ending closer to the book than the original film. Hailee Steinfeld is her own Mattie — equal to Kim Darby’s offering in the original. So, while I can enjoy the “True Grit” remake, I am still very partial to the Duke’s original film. Arguments?? That’ll be the day!!

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60,000 Hits … and I’m a Versatile Blogger, too!

I passed the 60,000 hit mark today, so it seemed an opportune time to accept the Versatile Blogger Award from Dorothy at Eyes to Heart.

It is a pleasure and an honor to receive this award and I am grateful to be found worthy. Dorothy creates images and matches them with words that catch the essence of things, like starlight in a bottle. Some remarkable imagery that I urge you to explore. She is special and has a unique perspective. If you need an example, the following picture of a piece of the  Sydney Opera House is a fine example of the beauty she sees.

Sydney Opera House Roof Detail

 Recognition is always gratifying and it’s lovely when an award and a milestone coincide. This one seems especially appropriate and timely. When members of the blogging community recognize one as having some sort of genuine talent, it makes up for a lot.

If prophets have no honor in their home town, bloggers don’t get no respect from family and friends. They may love us, but they know no matter how wise and witty we seem to be online, we are really the same jerks they’ve known since we were kids and probably even jerkier. Fortunately, blogging gives us a fresh start, letting us show our best face to the world. Our new friends don’t have to know about the other stuff, things we barely remember ourselves because after so many tequila shots, who remembers? It’s good to have a wider world ’cause the folks who had to haul your unconscious butt home in the back of a VW beetle will never give you an award for being versatile, inspiring, or anything else.

versatileblogger11The Versatile Blogger Award is a favorite award because it seems more “me” than other blogging awards. I’ve never aimed to be a particular kind of blogger, never focussed on one area to the exclusion of others. Versatile and mutable would be good descriptors for me as a blogger and a person. I respond to the feelings of others as if they were my own. I react to events rather than marching to a particular drum or along a specific path. When I was younger, I could be enlisted in particular causes, but as I’ve gotten older, I try to use my energy efficiently and let  life and the universe direct where my efforts will be best used. For the astrologically inclined, it’s a Pisces thing. We are tidally related to our world. As the waters ebb and flow, so do we. We do not march nor follow dogma, but can create quite a strong current when we direct our flow to a purpose.

I don’t know from day-to-day what will catch my fancy, what event, dream or thought will set my fingers flying over the keys. The relative importance of my memories and how I feel about them isn’t fixed. I feel very differently about almost everything now than I did a few years ago and will continue to change as life twists me into new shapes. I doubt 16-year-old me would recognize 66-year-old me. I’m not even sure they would like each other.

Now to the business of accepting this award. There are some rules that go with it. I bend these rules as I bend all rules. You’ll just have to deal with it. If this were the Oscars, I’d make a long, boring speech. I would thank everyone I’ve ever known until someone gave me the hook and dragged me bodily from the stage, but this isn’t the Academy Awards and I’ve always thought those speeches were stupid. I’ll just say “Thank you” and get on with it to good parts.

These are the traditional rules for The Versatile Blogger Award:

  • Thank the person who gave you this award.
  • Include a link to their blog.
  • Next, name the bloggers to whom you would like to pass the award and send them a link to tell them you’ve selected them.
  • Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself,

Since I’m not traditional, I do things a little differently. I feel I’ve told everybody just about everything they could possible want to know about me, so I tell you about my world in pictures. I so not limit myself to naming a specific number of blogs or bloggers as nominees. Not everyone wants or accepts awards and sometimes, you’ve given awards to just about everyone you know and it’s time to give it a rest for a while. Fortunately (or not?) for my community, I have a little list so after you have viewed my gallery of selected images, you may find your name listed. Some are people to whom I always give awards because I always think they deserve them. Others are recent members of my community.

Catnip/Awakenings I have intentionally omitted because she is fighting other battles right now. Sharla, I love you, and you are not forgotten. Take care of Jim and be strong. I’ll give you a dozen or so awards when you are ready to deal with them.

Now the fun part. Here are the blogs I nominate for The Versatile Blogger Award. I hope when you have a moment you’ll take an opportunity to pay them a visit. These blogs have moved and inspired me each in their own way, and while I’m not always able to visit as regularly as I would like, I do appreciate you and you matter to me more than you might imagine.

The Recovering Legalist

Christine M Grote

Euzacasa

Films and Things

My Favorite Westerns

My Beautiful Things

With a Friend Like Gary

rarasaur

Sunday Night Blog

pujakins

Reflections of a Book Addict

Silk Screen Views

Head In A Vice

Mikes Film Talk

Thanks to all of you and I encourage everyone who stops by here to check out these wonderful bloggers. They are creative, original voices that will make you smile, make you think and maybe, inspire you to try new things and go new places.

To anyone I left out, I am sorry. Some of you I know don’t want awards, others I’ve awarded very recently. No one is really forgotten. I’ll catch you on the next round!

-

An Oscar Weekend in Connecticut

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It was a visit worthy of Jane Austin. We were fed and fed again. Entertained, charmed, chatted and entertained some more. I took pictures of the house, the land, the snow, the stream.

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We watched the Oscars, and we saw almost all the movies that had been nominated (except the ones we didn’t want to see and Les Mis, which we didn’t get to).

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We had already seen Lincoln in the movies. We watched Argo, Skyfall, The Hobbit, Flight, Ted (not nominated, but after Flight, we needed a comedy) and Life of Pi. A veritable movie banquet.

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And OH the food. Such good food. Our host and hostess cooked up a storm. It was movie maven and gourmet heaven, not to mention a great house and land perfect for photography.

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Good friends, good food, great movies, beautiful scenery … It was an award-winning weekend.

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To be a Lovely Blogger, I need new makeup!

 

 I cannot possibly feel sufficiently lovely without some new makeup. It’s been way too long since I reconsidered my eye shadow color. Maybe it’s time to dump the earth tones and go for something flashier … well, maybe not. Definitely not. Never mind.

Sean O’Murphy, of Very Novel: Freelance Writer to Novelist, has (among other achievements) created some of the most evil and delicious writing and blogging challenges I’ve seen to date. Not merely evil and delicious, but chocolate cake level irresistible. I’ve only recently begun to participate in these challenges. Most challenges are simple themes, but these are a cross between a writing challenge and a scavenger hunt, which is utterly cool.

Consider this:

Google Image Search the word, ‘resplendent’  and choose the image you like best and then ‘voracious’ and your favorite for that word  and write a story involving the two images. Try not to use the two words in the story.

No writer worth salt, sugar, or an advance on a novel could possibly resist such temptation. I have every intention of writing to the next challenge. If you have any sense of adventure in your heart, check it out!

Today just wasn’t my day to spend writing. Garry and I had a personal challenge to meet: our granddaughter turns 16 the day after tomorrow. Doting grandparents that we are, all other activities were set aside while we sought a proper gift, then wrapped it perfectly. Because I can never not give a gift after I have it wrapped and ready, we had to ceremoniously present it, including all appropriate expressions of affection, i.e., embarrassing displays involving kissing and hugging.

If you are not nor have ever been the owner or manager of a teenager, be advised that young men and ladies of this age find grandparently shows of affection mortifying. Her grandfather and I were unperturbed by her perturbation.

My husband has interviewed Presidents, Popes and Mother Theresa, who warned him that he should do more good stories, that the news contained too much violence.

Although his granddaughter is probably more daunting than Mother Theresa, Garry still retains enough intrepid reporter in his soul that he could ignore her protestations and plant a warm wet kiss on her reluctant cheek. Personally, I think she really likes it and the squeals are a merely a ritual expression of her emerging adulthood.

I’ve had a big bump in readership since getting the Liebster Award and Beautiful Blogger awards a couple of weeks ago.Nothing could have surprised me more than getting another, so soon after the last couple, so again, displaying my usual wit and wisdom, all I can say about this is,  “Wow! Thanks Sean!”

The Lovely Blogger Award honors sites that …

No one has the slightest clue what the Lovely Blogger award means except that you really like someone’s blog and you want to give them an award. Probably that’s more than enough. All appreciation is appreciated. How crass does one have to be to not be grateful when someone says “Hey, I like your stuff and want to give you an award.” Not me. I have never met an award I didn’t like.

The originator of “lovely blog” has not stepped forward to clarify what he or she was thinking when he or she began giving this out … and really, does it matter?

The rules state that winners should pass the award along to at least 7 more people whose sites you really like a lot. After that, each awardee (since nomination and award are the same, a nomination is an award), there are a few things to do. It’s not a gigantic demanding list of requirements, so, here they are for your enlightenment:

  • Thank the person who nominated you. I should think you wouldn’t need to be told this; simple good manners would suggest a “thank you” is in order
  • Create a link to his or her site from your own
  • Copy/paste the Lovely Blogger icon into your post.
  • Pass along 7 new tidbits about yourself
  • Nominate 7 bloggers whose sites you think are deserving of praise, and hopefully you actually do look at from time to time.

Number 1 through 3 having already been accomplished, I will proceed with 4, offering up some new tidbits about myself. Since this whole site is full of embarrassing information about myself and my family — who periodically threaten me with violence for talking about them on the internet — I feel that I must be doing my job properly. If no one is mad at you, what’s the point? But there is little about myself left to reveal, but nonetheless, I’ll give it a whirl.

  1. I have no nipples. I lost them to a double mastectomy 2 years ago next month and having had more than enough surgery for two or three lifetimes, I opted out of the fake nipples thing
  2. I have no belly button. Post surgical septic infection of my abdomen required the plastics swat team to come in and figure out how to make me not die. I lost my belly button in the process
  3. I have an excessively intimate — perhaps unnatural — relationship with my computers (currently holding at 3, but sooner or later I’ll give in and get a tablet or maybe a Chromebook)
  4. I have seen very unsettling things while reading Tarot cards. I gave up reading Tarot cards. I didn’t like seeing that stuff
  5. I believe astrology reveals a lot of truth, but I have no idea why
  6. I’m sure the light at the end of the tunnel is the headlight of an oncoming train
  7. I have predictive dreams, more than half of them about strangers. If I don’t know who I’m dreaming about, what can I do with the information?

And the nominees are … drum roll  …

I’m delighted to have an opportunity to show off some sites that I enjoy. Most are either writers or photographers, frequently, both. Most of them manage to make me laugh or smile and some make my gasp in admiration.

The envelope please …

I hope you all appreciate my appreciation and I want you to know I genuinely appreciate you. You are the people who brighten my days, give me ideas to keep me writing and taking pictures, encourage me to believe in myself, make me think about things I’d otherwise never notice … and keep me sitting way too long in front of the computer! Bless you all and have a great weekend!

 

♫ ♪ I am a Beautiful Blogger ♪ Oh what a beautiful day ♪ ♫

Sharla Lee Shults writes beautiful poetry. Lately we have been inspiring one another, a most rewarding virtual relationship. She writes lovely poetry and in addition to her books, she publishes it on her website, The Catnip of Life. Her writing is warm, full of life, and balm to my brittle personality. If I could condense Sharla and carry her in my pocket, I would. At least I can find her anytime on the Internet

I had a big bump in readership during the past week since getting the Liebster Award. It’s been a great week for awards and having, in all my life before I started blogging, never won a single award, getting two in a week is a very big “Wow!”

It was a good day for an award because it had been until then, not a very good day at all.

It had been a treacherous day. A day when everything I said or did seemed to be misunderstood or misinterpreted. A stupid day winding up having snippy little fights with everyone, from the kid who bags groceries, to my dog who is refusing to perform that funny thing she does just when I want to show her off. The argument with the dog was rather one-sided, but the kid in the supermarket could almost talk.

All I wanted was to have the frozen pizza lain flat and not shoved into a bag on their edges so all the toppings fall off. My handsome young bagger was apparently baffled, so I offered — perhaps more testily than I should have — to explain if you lay the bag (cloth) on its side, and insert the pizzas, voilà.

All you then need do to get the pizza home in good nick would be to put the bag with the pizza on top of the rest of the cart’s contents. Anywhere but on the bottom of the cart and with all the heavy groceries on top of them.

He said I didn’t need to give him so much attitude. And me, a silver-haired senior citizen.

I think the laddie gave me a compliment, though I’m sure he didn’t intend it as such. He finally worked out the logistics of putting pizza into the bag, then promptly added another 5 pounds of heavy groceries into the bag right on top of the pizza, including a half-gallon of milk, defeating any benefit I’d gained.

For good measure, he put the bag, pizza and everything else on the bottom of the cart and piled all the other stuff atop the pizzas. Defeated by a bagger.

I shudder to think what that pizza will look like when we want to eat them, but I could not bear another argument with my young friend lest I be accused of having excessive attitude.

My husband was upset with me about the rye bread. I had been eating it, but in deference to his preference for rye rather than whole-grain white, I had gone back to white bread so there would be more rye for him. He seemed to feel that I was cheating, making him adapt to rapidly changing preferences in breads.

Still reeling from trying to preserve pizza and the fall-out from changing my bread preference and with the tragic foreknowledge that when my current loaf of white bread is done, I may again want rye bread, I unpacked the meager pile of stuff our hundred dollars had bought. The day was not going well.

Digression

My husband likes what he likes. He is absolutely loyal to his choices. This is good for a relationship: If he loved you when you were young, he will love you through thick and thin until the world ends. You can’t argue with that. I certainly never would. He is almost equally loyal to friends, family, and a variety of services and objects like cars, foods, restaurants, and so on, though he realizes that these things come and go and sometimes, despite everything, one must change or let go entirely. He’s a good at holding on, not so good at letting go. Over all, it works out solidly on the positive side of human being. A good guy, a fine husband, an ethical and moral man.

But, he does not like change. He resents it. He takes it personally. He has always preferred rye bread. As long as I’ve known him, and that’s close to 50 years, he asks for rye as his bread of choice. I’m more fluid. If you want to go all astrological about it, I’m very watery with my Sun in Pisces, Moon in Scorpio, and not a single planet in any earth sign.

Garry has an Aries Sun, Capricorn Moon, and most everything else in Taurus, so he’s solidly fixed to earth and waves to me as I float by. That works for us and I can always find a piece of dry ground to stand on when my world gets too muddy.

But, when I change my mind, which I do without a thought, Garry can find that quite disturbing. He cannot understand why I would alter something as basic as my bread of choice. He buys the groceries most of the time and this means he has to reconfigure his shopping path. Change for change sake is not his style. Variety is not his spice of life.

I was just trying to be a good wife and leave my husband’s favorite bread for him. Honest. If I knew it would cause such distress, I would have continued eating rye just to make him happy. Too soon old, too late shmart.

Digression concluded. Returning to previous digression.

I put the groceries away. Hard to believe how little $100 buys these days. Then I found  a $17.95 charge in on my bank account for which I can find no explanation. Bank of America now posts some “in process” transactions without any identifying information. For someone as anal-compulsive as me, that’s like having glass shards poke through my brain. Nasty sharp things like warm icicles stuck through my thinking processes.

At this point, I’m trying to restore my usual acerbic version of humor … and right there is an award courtesy of the ever lovely Sharla. I transform from a snarky old granny to a Beautiful Blogger, an inspiration to others. Wow. And wow again.

I feel much improved and rather wowed. In a good way. And I forgive the moronic bagger and my husband who, after all, just wants me to be consistent and not change my mind without warning him in advance. But I retain the right to believe Bank of America should not post a transaction without indicating the origin of said transaction.

I’m very happy to accept this honor, even though it has been a very snarky day and there are likely to be even snarkier ones yet to come.

Although I’ve already thanked Sharla, you can’t thank anyone too much, at least not someone as generous and warm-hearted, not to mention charming and talented author and blogger. Please visit her blog, the catnipoflife. I follow it with something just a tad short of religious fervor.

She writes lyrical poetry that is balm to my soul. Perhaps it will be balm for yours, too.

The Beautiful Blogger Award honors sites that share inspiration.

That’s not such an easy hurdle to jump. There are sites that amuse me, make me curious, thoughtful, offer solutions to problems, and teach me things I want to know. But inspiration can be hard to find, harder in a world that seems so lacking in civility and overwrought with self-righteous indignation.

The rules state that winners pay forward to 7 other people whose sites inspire you. After that, each awardee (since nomination and award are the same, a nomination is an award), there are a few things to do. Not a huge list of demands, but here they are:

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Link to his/her site
  • Nominate 7 bloggers who inspire you
  • Copy/paste the Beautiful Blogger icon into your post.

And the nominees are … drum roll  …

I’m delighted to have an opportunity to showcase some sites that really do inspire me, each in a different way. From underwater and everywhere else adventuring, to saving dogs, to watching the sun rise from the back of a horse and reminding me how much I miss being able to ride.

There’s a site that made me dust off the keys of the piano and learn to play something new and one that sounded so delicious, I found myself in the kitchen making new dishes that made my taste buds sing a song of praise. I find each of these sites genuinely inspiring … and, as I said, it’s not an easy hurdle to leap.

Whatever you find inspiring, I believe you will surely \find something that will give you a new idea or perhaps remind you of something you loves and might want to try again.

The envelope please …

  • Rumpy Dog – Working hard to save all the dogs with love and constant support.
  • Hot Rod Cowgirl - Riding through life one horse at a time…Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.
  • ClassPiano – Real piano lessons, original piano music. As someone who plays the piano, it’s genuinely inspiring and makes me want to practice! Turn up the speakers and check it out.
  • MikesFilmTalk – I love the way he writes. Although film is central, he writes about all kind of things, whatever happens to interest him and there’s always something interesting to read.
  • Bucket List Publications – In the author’s own words, “Portrays the beauty and limitless possibilities of this world. The quote, “The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences,” (Eleanor Roosevelt) describes my goals perfectly.portrays the beauty and limitless possibilities of this world. The quote, “The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences,” (Eleanor Roosevelt) describes my goals perfectly.” Great site!
  • Putney Farm – She writes about food. She publishes recipes. She has, miraculously, revived my desire to actually cook which thought had died from terminal boredom. A very yummy site!
  • Oceanbound Adventures – It’s all about diving. Diving on wrecks, on reefs. Taking amazing underwater pictures. If the ocean inspires you, you can just drown on this site … in the most positive sense. Just the pictures would be enough, but there are stories, too.

Getting the Liebster Blog Award!

Sharla Lee Shults writes beautiful poetry. She publishes it and gives you a delicious taste of it on her website, The Catnip of Life. I have been enjoying her work for a while. She has been generously made it mutual. A big thank you for this award!

Also a big thanks to all my friends who have followed my writing, ranting and photographic ups and downs over the past six months. Has it been only six months? I feel like I’ve been writing this blog forever.

I know, I’m a little obsessive about writing, well, about almost everything, but I shan’t dwell on my psychological idiosyncrasies. If I don’t grab this by the horns (virtual horns, not real ones) and wrestle it to the ground, it will hang over my head as a Big Task Undone. For anyone with a streak of obsessive-compulsive to their personality, that’s bad. That’s like a virtual Sword of Damocles … and who was Damocles anyhow and how dare he bring a sword into my house?

A long digression. 

Digression is my nemesis. Although to the naked eye, digression may look the same as procrastination, its psychological origins are completely different. True, both behaviors land one in the same place: work needs doing and hasn’t gotten done. Now, time for the “but.” There’s always a “but” ….  so wait for it … wait … okay, now.

But. Whereas procrastination means that one has intentionally put off performing an essential or at the least, important task(s), digression means one has forged ahead fully intending to get the job done, but somewhere along the way, was diverted. For me, it means that on my way to accomplish a task, I noticed something interesting. I stopped to read it, take a picture of it, ponder it … maybe do a little research on it …  after which I fully intend to get on with doing the needful task, assuming I still remember what it was.

Take last night. At around 2 in the morning, having already brushed my teeth, straightened the bed, and put on my nightie, I began to climb into bed. I just then noticed the telephone was not in its cradle, which meant it was still on the desk in my office. I got up and went across the hall to grab the telephone and return it to its charger.

Once in my office, just a few feet from the bedroom, being as I was at my desk, I figured I’d take a quick peek at my email. I wanted to check out the Liebster Award that Sharla has been so kind as to award me. I have gotten a couple of awards before … Lovely Blogger and Versatile Blogger …  and each of these has entailed some effort on the part of the recipient. I was sure there would be some stuff to go with this one, too. No idea what the Liebster is, so I should at least acquaint myself with it, shouldn’t I?

At about 2:30 in the morning, my husband is snoring softly and I’m reading about The Liebster Award in my office. The window of opportunity for snuggling together as we fall asleep has already been missed (my very bad). Even the dogs, all four of them, are passed out. I’m trying to be oh so quiet and not wake them. My computer’s speakers are off and even if they should, as they are wont to do, decide to turn themselves on, I have the volume all the way at zero so I won’t wake anything up. I am enthralled, reading the list of nominees and the rules of acceptance, pondering to whom I can confer this honor and what would be a proper acceptance blog. Shall I be humble (pronounce that, please, as does John Wayne “umble”)?

Perhaps I should throw caution to the winds. Show the world who I really am: arrogant, proud, and puzzled:

  • Arrogant: I know I write well and take pretty pictures.
  • Proud: I no longer grovel with gratitude when someone compliments me. I can say thank you while remaining upright. This is  a huge  improvement on earlier behavior.
  • Puzzled: I love awards but always wonder why anyone would pick me? My professional life was long in work and short in recognition. That’s what you get for working in a field that doesn’t give awards. Where I come from, you get a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly award. It’s called a “paycheck.”  On a really good week, you get the money and don’t get informed that you’re redundant (aka “fired”) or the company is closing for lack of funds … the price for working in tiny start-up venture capital development groups run by people who have wonderful ideas and absolutely no clue about how to handle finances. They make fun bosses until the money runs out.

My tech writing roots are showing. Who else uses bulleted lists in their blog?

The bird clock above my desk chirps the hour of 3 AM but I ignore it. I’m deep in the throes of the Liebster Award. Finally, having satisfied myself that I know what to do, I amble off to bed. As soon as I am comfortably arranged, clutching my pillow and sighing with pleasure (I love my bed), I realize that the telephone is still in the office. I get back up and get the phone so I can, as originally intended, return it to its charging cradle.

While I’m gathering up the phone, oh no! I’ve left a couple of dirty dishes on the desk and a not-quite-empty coffee cup! Evil bad Marilyn! I am torn. If I take the dishes and the cup to the kitchen, I might wake up the dogs. If I go anywhere near the  biscuit box, they are on me like giant furry ticks. All bets are off until I give them a piece of something. Into how many tiny pieces can you break a small, tasteless, hard biscuit? It takes skill. It’s late. I’m tired. But I have to take the dishes in. If I don’t, bugs might find them. Oh yuk! No no, anything but bugs.

What’s that blinking on my screen? Incoming mail? Ooh, it’s a “Like” notification. Someone likes me. I  love those likes. Someone besides my husband thinks I’m a good writer. I’m all atwitter. I feel like Sally Fields at the Oscars. “You really LIKE me!” Which reminds me about the award. I have begun to worry passing it on without insulting anyone to whom I am NOT passing it along. I certainly don’t want to offend anyone. That would be dreadful!

I am getting sleepy, probably because it’s nearly dawn and I haven’t gone to bed yet. Realizing that I’m asleep sitting in front of the monitor, I grab the telephone and go to bed. Out cold before my head is on the pillow.

Today, the next day, the two unwashed dishes are still on my desk but do not seem to have been infested by vermin during the night. I washed out the coffee cup and put fresh coffee in it and fortunately, managed to finally get that phone into the recharging cradle. I know because it rang at 9 to remind me that I have prescriptions waiting at the pharmacy.

And here I am, writing about the award, sort of. In my world, this is progress.

Now, where was I?

Oh yes. I was about to thank Sharla Lee Shults who is a charming and talented author and blogger. Please take a long look at her blog, the catnipoflife … which I follow with something slightly south of religious fervor. She writes lyrical poetry that is balm to my Type A nervous system. She also gets published which for anyone who writes poetry is no small feat. Actually, in today’s publishing environment, getting published at all is quite an achievement.

The Liebster Blog Award 

What is the Liebster Blog Award?

The Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers. “Liebster” is the German word for “favorite”. Thus this award is the “favorite blog award.” In essence, someone likes you. This is a good thing.

“The rules state that winners  pay forward to other people whose sites are worthy of recognition, and have fewer than 200 followers. If they accept the award, they should:

  • Thank the person who nominated them
  • Link to his/her site
  • Nominate between five and eleven (5 to 11) favorite blogs with fewer than 200 followers
  • Copy/paste the Liebster Blog Icon into their post.”

In doing some additional research about this award, some say pay it forward to five (5), others say pay it forward to eleven (11). Sharla has graciously left it to each of us to make our own decision in the matter. Some nominators give questions to be answered; others require none. I put some in, but if you’re shy or whatever, you don’t have to answer. I’m easy.

Q & A

NOTE: Since not all sites feature stats some nominees may actually have more than 200 followers. If so, please graciously accept the award as a way for you to pay it forward to someone you know that is deserving of its recognition.y:

1. What brought you into the blogging world?

I started reading other people’s blogs, especially the ATMTX Photography Blog devoted to those of us who work with of 4/3 mirrorless cameras. I was so grateful to have someone of whom I could ask questions and get correct answers that somehow, I got hooked.

2. What do you enjoy most about blogging?

Freedom to write and post what I want, when I want, with no one second guessing me.

3. What do you remember about the first movie you ever saw??

I was sitting in the first row watching “Gunfight at OK Corral” and the heads of Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas were 15 feet high.

4. What sitcom that has aired its final season would you like to see returned to television?

Murphy Brown. Just loved her character. She reminded me of so many people I know.

5. What is your favorite animated character?

Mr. Incredible.

6. What is your favorite all-time classic movie?

Casablanca. Saw it recently on the big screen for the first time. I forgot how funny it actually is.

7. If you had a time machine, where/when would you go and why?

The 14th century before the Black Death because after the plague, the world was entirely different.

8. What are your interests/hobbies other than reading and/or writing?

Watching movies with my husband and all the dogs. Taking pictures. Talking and thinking about what it all means.

9. What is your dream vacation?

An ocean voyage to Europe, then Paris, Rome, Dublin and maybe London … and a long, peaceful sea voyage back. NO airplane travel!

10. How would you change the world if you could in one way??

I’d try to make people care about each other more than they care about getting rich, becoming famous or powerful. I would try to make everyone treat everyone else with respect and civility. It sounds so small, but the results would be huge.

11. What are 5 words that describe your personality?

Creative, outspoken, generous, opinionated, talkative. Those are my good qualities. I won’t mention my evil side.

And now for my questions:

  1. Why do you blog?
  2. About what are you passionate?
  3. What makes you happy?
  4. What did you want to be when you grew up? Is that what you have become?
  5. If you could fix one thing that’s wrong with the world, what would it be?
  6. If you could travel in time, to when would you travel? Why?
  7. What do you do for fun? If you don’t do it, but would like to, that’s okay.
  8. Name two friends, one human, one four-legged.
  9. Do you like thunder storms?
  10. What’s your favorite season and why?
  11. Describe yourself briefly as if you were someone else. Single words will do and no need for full disclosure!

And the nominees are. . .(drum roll) …

I’m delighted to have an opportunity to showcase some blogs I feel are worth your attention. I hope you will take the time to visit them. You won’t regret it and they deserve it. There are so many … if I could nominate everyone, I would. Instead, I’ve tried to choose blogs that I think can use the bump in readership and deserve attention. Decide for yourself. Take a look and see what others are doing! I get great ideas that way and probably so will you!

  • Leanne Cole’s Photography Field Trips - Great pictures and a lot of really useful photographic information.
  • RumpyDog – Saving the dogs of the world, one dog at a time.
  • TheLintInMyPocket – S. Thomas Summers is an author, historian, and poet with a strong emphasis on the Civil War. If you have any interest in this era, check it out. Even if you don’t have a special interest in this period, check it out anyhow. Good writing is good writing, whatever the subject matter.
  • My Kidney Transplant Story - Faced with terrible odds, sickness, possible death, a young man soldiers on, fighting off the triple demons of depression, self-pity and despair while maintaining a sense of perspective, humor, and irony. A good place to learn about organ transplant … the real story, not the tidied up versions you get on television.
  • Text From Dog - I know with all the serious stuff going on that I should be serious. Sometimes I’m downright grim. I promise to be depressed — even demoralized —  tomorrow, if that will make you feel better. In the meantime,  I need to laugh. Laughter is the only thing that lets me hang on to my sanity in this crazy world. This blog is cartoons the form a continuing cell phone dialogue between a guy and his dog. It makes me laugh. Come. You laugh too.
  • Divide and Nurture - A rather new blog about design with original illustrations. Really love design work and some good information for those of us who design our own books and websites. I think this one’s going to be big!
  • Clotildajamcracker – The wacky stories of a crazy lady: Exactly what it sounds like!
  • BunnyandPorkBelly – Food reviews, pictures and interesting stuff about restaurants and tourist sites up and down the east coast between Boston and Virginia. Is it poetry or prose? Both, I think. This young woman has hit that misty mid region that like between the two forms. She’s young, lovely, and talented, so take a look and see where she goes.

I would have nominated more, but many of the blogs I follow are already very much more popular than this award allows, so I tried to find people like me who are relatively new and might appreciate a boost. Hope I chose well and hope you all enjoy these wonderful blogs.

Thanks again Sharla!