humor

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.

IT CAN’T BE THAT BAD, CAN IT?

Can’t Watch This — When was the last time you watched something too scary, cringe-worthy, or unbelievably tacky to continue?


Almost everyday, I am offended by appallingly cliche-ridden, derivative shows proffered as “the next new thing” for us, the obviously dim-witted audience. Not to mention the “reality shows” like “Marriage Boot Camp” which has offended me merely by its advertisements. No, I haven’t watched one of the shows. If I become that senile or desperate, please shoot me.

Form unimaginative scripts, to the failure of the writers to do even the most basic research about the subject matter, to the inevitable use of tired old lines we hear thousands of times — “Stay in the car!” “Be careful out there!” “You’re off the case and on desk duty!” — to which we all say a weary, “Yeah, right, sure,” because no one stays in the car or on desk duty. And wouldn’t you think being careful would not be something of which you needed to remind police officers who’ve been doing it for years?

However, standing out from the crowd of mediocrity is a movie we had never seen. Was it an instinctive knowledge it would be terrible? Presenting (drumroll) …

WUSA (1970) 115 min – Drama | Romance – 12 March 1971

From the IMDB, a plot summary:

Rheinhardt, a cynical drifter, gets a job as an announcer for right-wing radio station WUSA in New Orleans. Rheinhardt is content to parrot WUSA’s reactionary editorial stance on the air, even if he doesn’t agree with it. Rheinhardt finds his cynical detachment challenged by a lady friend, Geraldine, and by Rainey, a neighbor and troubled idealist who becomes aware of WUSA’s sinister, hidden purpose. And when events start spinning out of control, even Rheinhardt finds he must take a stand.

Director: Stuart Rosenberg
Writers: Robert Stone (screenplay), Robert Stone (novel)
Stars: Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Anthony Perkins and more.

WUSA_(movie_poster)It looks good on paper, doesn’t it? I mean Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, right? How bad could it be?

Bad. Very bad. The script starts off slow, but degenerates with each passing minute until it is so stunningly awful, so over-the-top hysterical and preachy, you find yourself glued to the screen, mouth hanging open, bits of drool falling from your slack jaw.

If, by some bad juju, this movie is showing on a television near you, save yourself! Find an oldies station and watch an episode of Gilligan’s Island.

There are probably worse movies lurking in the vaults of Turner Classics. I just hope we have the good sense to not watch them.

THIS IS BASEBALL? BRANDING AND THE AMERICAN PASTIME

Photo by Phil Konstantin

Petco Park, Photo by Phil Konstantin

“It’s an exciting afternoon here at Petco,” the announcer says. The Padres are playing the Mets. At Petco Park. The mental image this formed in my head were utterly un-baseball, totally non-sporting. This whole branding thing is out of hand.

I looked up from the computer, wondering if we needed more dog food and biscuits. We’re forever running short.

But next, the announcer points out the pitcher has been, so far, throwing a no-hitter. Never, in Padre history has any pitcher thrown a no-hitter, so this should have been riveting baseball. Except the announcers couldn’t seem to focus on the game and instead, were busy talking all kinds of nonsense while showing clips of everything but the game in progress. Ultimately, I suppose it didn’t matter since the pitcher gave up three hits but still, they might have at least given the kid his time in the sun.

Finally they pointed out the right-hander, Odrisamer Despaigne “… has a great, boring fastball.”

padre player uniformThis made me wonder if they should be playing any kind of game at Petco, especially if Odrisamer Despaigne’s fastball is boring. I get they are really saying something technical about the pitch. Nonetheless, words matter. Boring has multiple meanings, the most common being dull. So how boring was that fastball?

And doesn’t Petco Park sound like a dog park to you?

Someone once told me I’m “branding” my photographs by signing them. No, I’m not. I sign my art because I’m proud of it. Branding would be if I sold my blog to Costco, after which this was no longer Serendipity, but Costco Web Thoughts — but I still did the writing and photography while they paid to put their corporate name on my work. That’s branding.

Garry points out the Padres not only have a crappy team and awful branding — Petco really doesn’t work as a stadium name — but they wear ugly uniforms. From Garry, that is total condemnation.

Whatever else is wrong with the Red Sox, at least they have not turned Fenway into Burger King Stadium. Or Walmart Watcharama. And, to the best of my knowledge, the pitchers throw highly entertaining fastballs.

WHERE ARE MY 4,089 FOLLOWERS?

Yesterday, I glanced at my statistics and realized I’d reached a new level. According to WordPress, I now have 4,089 4,111 followers.

That’s a lot of followers. You’d figure I’d get at least 1,000 hits a day, right? And certainly, with 1000 more followers than I had a few months ago, I must be getting a lot more hits. It just stands to reason, doesn’t it?

Not.

I have no idea who — or what — is following me.

I am convinced most of my followers are non-human. I have a couple of dozen real people in the mix. These are  my regulars who read my stuff, comment and have become virtual friends. They look at my photographs. They remember stories I’ve written in the past.

That accounts for a couple of dozen people There are a few dozen others who drop by regularly, but not daily, as the spirit moves them. What’s with the other 3,500 followers?

Image: Mashable.com

Image: Mashable.com

Where are you? You don’t write, you don’t call. Not a comment or a “Like.” What’s a blogger to do but wonder if you are real? I bet you are software spammers and cyber-bots. Unless there more than three thousand people who — for no known reason — clicked “Follow” on my site, then lost interest and never came back.

I’m by no means alone in wondering “where have all the followers gone.” It’s the deepest, darkest mystery of blogging, these elusive followers from whom one never hears. Do I really have thousands of lurkers, none of whom have ever clicked on a post?

Anyway, although I’m (technically) more popular than ever, the number of hits per day is slightly lower than it was a couple of thousand followers ago.

If you’re out there, drop me a line. Click “Like.” Make a comment.

Or not.

IT’S GOOD TO BE THE KING

Somewhere on the Internet, Garry found a cartoon that says it all about history … ours, everyone’s. Great surfing, Gar!

It IS good to be the King.

good to be the king cartoon

You only have to kill the historians you can’t buy off or threaten into writing your story the way you want. And keep the bards. They’re all suck ups anyhow.

IS HE STILL ALIVE?

By Garry Armstrong

The phone rang and the caller ID flashed one of Boston two major newspapers. I figured it was the sales department. I handed the phone to Marilyn.

I heard Marilyn respond “yes” several times and was puzzled. We didn’t need and couldn’t afford expensive home delivery of newspapers. Then Marilyn said “He’s right here. Why don’t you speak to him?” She had a broad smile on her face. I was even more puzzled.

Long story short. The caller was a reporter working on a series about Boston schools and the 40th anniversary of court-ordered school desegregation. She was looking for people who had covered the story in 1974.

forced busing Boston

Photo: Associated Press

Apparently my name came up in her research. I confirmed I had indeed covered the story and shared a few anecdotes about the first day of what some called “forced busing”. I also shared some stories about my coverage of Boston schools over the following 25 plus years before I retired. To give some context, I mentioned that I’d also covered the civil rights movement for ABC Network before coming to Boston.

The reporter seemed impressed. We agreed to meet again for a more detailed interview. I hung up the phone and smiled. I looked at our four dogs seated around me and they understood. They were grinning at me. I could read their minds. He’s not just an old fart who feeds and plays with us. 

I looked at Marilyn with satisfaction. I wondered what she had said to the reporter when she took the call. Marilyn smiled and recounted the conversation. “She asked if you were alive. Then she asked if you actually remembered what you used to do. I bit my tongue and didn’t say ‘That’s a matter of opinion.'”

I looked back at the dogs. They were still grinning. How fleeting is fame.

I HEAR YOU

Full Disclosure — A mad scientist friend offers you a chip that would allow you to know what the people you’re talking to are thinking. The catch: you can’t turn it off. Do you accept the chip?


All those voices ricocheting around my head! It’s maddening. It wouldn’t be so bad if I could just hear what they are thinking about one thing, whatever we are talking about … but I hear everything. Talk about too much information, this is psychic overload to the nth degree!

well-stressed-4

Do I need to know what you’re planning to buy at the grocery store, how much it costs? What meals you’re going to make from which ingredients?

How your little sexual adventure with hubby went last night? What you think you are going to do tomorrow? How much Viagra the old guy takes? The state of your legs, whether or not they need shaving?

I just want to have a simple conversation about … what was it we were talking about? I’m lost in all that mental noise. I can’t remember anything. I think I’m going mad.

dilbert information overload

You’re looking at me funny. Hey, do you have one of those chips too? Oh my Gawd. It’s a freaking nightmare.

Whose idea was this? I see the bastard. He’s over there, look! It’s that guy from WordPress. Can I kill him? There’s gotta be a law … Don’t let him get away! Grab him, he’s trying to run!

Okay, WordPress guy. We need to have a little chat. And I’ve got a chip for you.

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.

ADJ150-RodeoGarMarHorseback

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.

96-ChristmasCommons-12-9-12_134

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.

96-Pops2013_065

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.

TEST SHOTS: CEE’S ODD BALL PHOTOS – WEEK 20

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: Week 20

The oddest photographs are the ones I take when I get my hands on an unfamiliar camera and want to see what it will do. Anything becomes fair game for the lens. And I do mean anything.

72-SummerWindow-TestShotsZS25_27

All of these were taken in low light. And from the recliner. Talk about feeling lazy! It also was a fair test of the telephoto lens in moderately low light.

72-Oddball-TestShotsZS25_07

Who will be the first to throw away the dead flowers? I hate throwing them out, so I wait until Garry gets me a new bouquet. No flowers this week — or last week — so it’s still waiting. It has become a contest. Who will break first? Probably me. Garry can ignore it forever.

18th century Japanese porcelain cohabits with 19th century Italian blown glass.

18th century Japanese porcelain cohabits with 19th century Italian blown glass.

How close can you get without getting out of the recliner? Pretty close.

Who will clean that window?

Who will clean that window?

No one is willing to climb a ladder so the window will never be clean. I think of it as life’s natural bokeh.

NOW? LATER? ALL THE SAME TO ME

Now? Later! — We all procrastinate. Website, magazine, knitting project, TV show, something else — what’s your favorite procrastination destination?


Holy moly! You made me pause to think this morning. I’m not sure I can handle that. Procrastination destination? You mean … like … what do I do when I’m not doing what I’m ‘posed to do?

What am I supposed to do? What is that?

I have no schedule. I have no professional goals, no boss, no deadlines. Other than an annual vacation, the occasional party, or doctor’s appointment …. everything is optional. I can do it. Or not.

Kitchen summer morning 2

Do it now, later, or skip it entirely. It’s up to me. Procrastination loses its zing post-retirement. I suppose I could set myself deadlines and then stress about meeting them, but why? Haven’t I had enough stress in my life? Now, later, never. It’s all the same.

You young ones are welcome to your hyped up lives, frantic schedules, important agendas, and artificial deadlines. I wish you well. I remember living a life where running as fast as I could meant staying in the same place — with exhaustion (mental and physical) as my constant companion.

I served my time and then some. Looking back, so much of it was a waste of energy. It meant nothing in the long run. Most of it meant nothing in the short run, too. Artificial deadlines for insignificant projects which frequently came to nothing for anyone … and I was just an itsy bitsy cog in someone else’s wheel of fortune.

I don’t have to do that anymore. I knew there was an up side to oldness. Time for another cuppa. I love coffee in the morning. Don’t you?

NATIONAL BROTHERHOOD WEEK?

Way back in the dark ages, the third week in February (an otherwise dreary and neglected month) was designated National Brotherhood Week. As designated special weeks go, it was never a big hit with the general public. In the 1980s, it disappeared completely. Probably because it failed to sell greeting cards. Which is, I believe, the point of such created events.

brotherhoodweek-624x446

The National Conference for Christians and Jews (NCCJ) came up with the idea of National Brotherhood Week in 1934. Given the current political climate, maybe we can agree more brotherhood year round would be an improvement. Sadly, we no longer have even that one, measly week.

February is now Black History Month which seems to mean movie channels run films featuring non-white stars. Unless you watch PBS or the History Channel where you might see a documentary or two.

The man who took it seriously — even in the old days — as he took all politics seriously, was Tom Lehrer. He taught math at Hahvid (Harvard, if you aren’t from around here). He didn’t write a lot of songs since he, till his dying day (which hasn’t occurred yet as he’s alive and living in California), thought of himself as a math teacher who wrote silly songs. Not as an entertainer.

Despite this unfair self-assessment, I’ve always felt Tom got this particular holiday dead to rights. Ya’ think?

He got a lot of stuff right. Check him out on YouTube. He only wrote about 50 songs and most of them are posted in some video or other. Me? I’ve got the CDs. (Remember CDs?)

LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL!

Seat Guru – You get to plan a dinner party for 4-8 of your favorite writers/artists/musicians/other notable figures, whether dead or alive. Who do you seat next to whom in order to inspire the most fun evening?


I probably should ask you to define “fun” as well as “fun for whom?” Because we might have very different ideas of fun. Be that as it may, this is my post and in this ghostly dinner do, I am sure that I will have fun just listening and laughing.

My guest list simply has to start with Dorothy Parker because no dinner party is complete without her acerbic with. Any woman credited with saying:

You can lead a whore to culture, but you cannot make her think.

If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves.

This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.

is bound to be a hoot at my soiree, don’t you think? Meanwhile, from her dinner date, Oscar Wilde, we get such winners as:

America had often been discovered before Columbus, but it had always been hushed up. 

America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between. — Oscar Wilde

I’m sure the two of them would be busy the entire night swapping bon mots.

Next, I think a manly man — Papa Hemingway? He too had a mouth on him and loathed those sappy, intellectuals. And wasn’t afraid to say so. Let’s sit him next to Noël Coward.

There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter. — Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway’s ultra manly manliness should be an excellent foil for Noël, the gay guy’s gay guy. Talk about duking it out!

He loved me true did Harry-boy and I loved him true, and if the happiness we gave each other was wicked and wrong in the eyes of the Law and the Church and God Almighty, then the Law and the Church and God Almighty can go dig a hole and fall down it.

Hollywood is a place where some people lie on the beach and look up at the stars, whereas other people lie on the stars and look down at the beach.

Finally, because Garry needs a dinner companion of his own, we’ll invite the Duke himself, John Wayne.

“You’re short on ears and long on mouth.”

“I’ve always followed my father’s advice: he told me, first to always keep my word and, second, to never insult anybody unintentionally. If I insult you, you can be goddamn sure I intend to. Third, he told me not to go around looking for trouble. ”
― John Wayne

I won’t sit. I’ll just flit around catching bits of brilliant conversation as it zings past. What a night. I will bring my best camera and take lots of pictures. It can’t get better than this.

Let the good times roll!

PHOBOPHOBOPHOBIA

phobophobia

Being afraid of fear itself … and worse yet, being afraid of being afraid of fear itself. I could go on and on but I won’t and aren’t you glad?

I just discovered that Wikipedia, my favorite source, lists phobophobia as a fear of phobias — the fear of fear itself. I made it up on the spur of the moment yesterday thinking I was terribly clever.

Now I feel cheated. Somebody made it up before me. How unjust can life and literature be? Is there a phobia for that? Can I make one up? Will Wikipedia include it on their master list of phobias?

Fear According to Savage Chickens

I am afraid of being afraid … and afraid of being afraid of being afraid. Or is it fear of being thought to be afraid? Anyway, that would be phobophobophobia.

My fear of being afraid of fear ignites my courage, so to prove that I am not really afraid of fear or the fear of fear, I will do anything and everything, including incredibly dangerous and stupid stuff.

Does that mean I’m brave?

I’m not sure. I’m confused. I will not really do anything and everything to prove I’m fearless. Unless it’s a double-dog-dare. That changes everything. Beside, my personal history of bad decisions speaks for itself.

Okay, maybe I would. Under the right (whatever they are) circumstances.

Week 27 — STILL SHARING MY WORLD

Share Your World – 2014 Week 27

If you were the architect of one existing building, which building would you select?

carnegie-hall

I’d sign up for Carnegie Hall. It’s got superb acoustics. It was built more than 100 years ago (opened in 1891) and remains one of the premier concert halls in the world. carnegiehall-inside

What is one of your favorite quotes?

“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. ”
― Michael Crichton

What color do you feel most comfortable wearing?

Black. It’s not a statement. I like the way it looks and it’s sort of a New York thing. I’m from New York. Did I ever mention that?

What is something you learned in the last week?

I learned I am an expert, a referenced source. On stuff about which I know next to nothing. This comes as a complete and peculiar surprise.

facts expert

A COLD DISH

Roaring Laughter — What was the last thing that gave you a real, authentic, tearful, hearty belly laugh? Why was it so funny?


One Sunday, Pastor’s sermon was about forgiveness. About letting go of old anger and resentment and handing that burden to God. At the end of his sermon, he asked the congregation to rise.

“Now,” he said, “Anyone who has an enemy at work, please sit down.” About half the congregation sat. “Will those who are estranged from one or more members of their family please sit.” Many more sat.

steeple light 3Finally, everyone was seated except for one old woman.

“You have no enemies at all? No one is harboring ill will towards you? Or is the object of your anger?” asked Pastor.

“Not a single one,” she answered, nodding her head.

“Please, come up here and tell everyone how you reached such a great age without having enemies,” said Pastor, greatly impressed. As a deacon escorted the elderly matron to the pulpit, everyone applauded.

She slowly made her way up the steps while Pastor adjusted the microphone.

“You must have done a lot of forgiving,” said Pastor. “Please, tell us your secret.”

The old lady smiled beatifically.

“I outlived the bitches,” she said.


Talk about an oldie but a goodie. The horrible truth is, you can forgive until you are blue in the face. You can work at forgetting until you overdose on whatever drugs are supposed to wipe your memory clean of the burning anger you’ve been harboring for years. In the end, nothing can come near the pure, delicious satisfaction of outliving the bitches.

This final story is  from my mother. She told it as an anecdote, a true story, but you are welcome to judge for yourself.


A friend of my mom’s was married for many years to a real bastard. Mean as a junkyard dog and so tight with his money (of which there was quite a bit) that the family lived in poverty while his bank accounts grew. One day the guy up and died of a heart attack.

The next day (Jews believe in rapid burial), there was a funeral. When the widow went up to the casket, she just stood there and looked at it. Nudged to say something, she thought for a long time. And then she said:

Good. Very good. Very, very good.” And that was all.


If you can’t see why that’s funny, I’m afraid I can’t help you.