ACCEPTING WHATEVER IT MAY BE

ACCEPTING, ACCEPTANCE, AND MOVING ON

It’s one of the things you learn getting older. You really can’t fight all the battles because there are too many battles and too few of you. So you accept that the plow driver knocked down half a wall and dug up a big chunk of garden … which someone is going to have to fix because it’s like hideous mud and rock central on the driveway.

You look at the door, realize it’s begun to rot a bit under the sill. You shrug. It’ll get dealt with, eventually. Not by me, of course. I don’t do sills.

The garden is a mess. The trees are breeding caterpillars. The dogs need a haircut and, for that matter, so do I. It’ll get sorted out. Or not. The places I plan to go, but the drive is too long — or the directions too complicated. The places I  ought to go, but don’t want to, at least not enough to make such an effort.

When I was 30, I went. Regardless. For the adventure, if nothing else. At 70? Adventure is great if I don’t have to walk over rough ground to experience it. So I know in advance of plans that I might go, but maybe I really won’t. Even if not doing so involves guilt and regret.

There’s a lot of acceptance going around. It’s not all that bad. After all those years of doing everything I was supposed to do and 50% more because I believed I should go that extra “mile,” I would have expected the changeover from “must” to “I’ll get to it” to be … more intense maybe?

Turns out, many of the things I did were not half as important as they seemed at the time. Can’t even remember most of them. But my brain screamed: “YOU MUST DO THAT NOW!” Phumf.

Now, I don’t even think about the why of it all. If it’s a doctor, I will deal with it, though I may defer the visit a couple of times until I get to it. Taxes? Well, you have to do them, at least if you want your money back. Visiting friends or having them visit? No question, I want to do it … if it will just please stop snowing. Vacations if reservations are involved and dates for dogs to be attended get worked out. We go.

On the “it’s almost work” front, writing a piece that’s bouncing around in my head. Checking in on friends, internet and otherwise.

Wondering why Gibbs was staring at the wall in the kitchen and growling ferociously. What did he see that I probably should know about?

Thinking I’d like to buy a video game, but wondering if I’d have the time to play it because my hobby (Serendipity) has become increasingly intense as the years have marched on. Or, as I said to Garry just last night: “Yes, it is a bit like work, but it’s writing. If I weren’t writing for Serendipity, I’d be writing for no one. I am going to write. Might as well write so other people can read it.”

Everything else can wait. Possibly until the next life rolls around.

FEUD: BETTE AND JOAN – HOLLYWOOD AND MATURE ACTRESSES – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Marilyn has just written a piece about Feud: Bette And Joan. However, the mini-series about the iconic Hollywood actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford plays a peripheral role in Marilyn’s offering.


My take on “Feud” focuses more on Hollywood and its disaffection for older actresses. Things are better for mature film actresses now than back in Hollywood’s “golden age.”  A look the award-winning films of the past year include names like Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep, Annette Benning, Viola Davis,, and Charlotte Rampling. All these ladies are AARP members. The roles essayed by these women are three-dimensional. Free of the “Norma Desmond” caricatures familiar in Hollywood films of the 30’s and 40’s.

Feud: Susan Sarandon (L) and Jessica Lange – December 9, 2016 – Los Angeles, CA
Photograph: Robert Trachtenberg

Feud: Bette And Joan focuses on the Davis and Crawford collaboration, Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? It’s art imitating life imitating art. The movie was a desperation marriage for the two legendary stars who despised each other, but had a common enemy.

The “suits.”

The studio moguls who regarded their stars as property, not flesh and blood people. La la land titans like Louis B. Mayer and Jack Warner treated women like clothing. Runway fashion for a few years, and then discount goods after they turned 40.

The ladies tried hard. An over-30 Norma Shearer playing Juliet in MGM’s Romeo and Juliet (1936) drew snarky comments from critics who lauded an equally mature Leslie Howard playing Romeo. Remember Ginger Rogers playing a teenager in The Major And The Minor?

There are moments in Feud: Bette And Joan when the two actresses let their guard down and share the bitterness and hatred they feel for the people who feed the publicity machine that can never be satisfied.  Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis and Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford make us believe — because they are mature actresses echoing the paths of two women who made things easier for them today.

On a very memorable afternoon in the late 60’s, Katherine Hepburn shared stories about old Hollywood. She didn’t mince words. Almost all the studios bosses were bastards in her book. She felt the same way about most directors — except George Cukor. Hepburn demanded respect, refused to play “younger” and provoked the ire of all who tried to manipulate her. She smiled at me when I told her how I routinely challenged “suits” who wanted me to be a more restrained man-of-color.

Hepburn respected both Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. This was 7-years after “Baby Jane” was released. Someone apparently had contacted Hepburn about doing the movie but they were really after Audrey Hepburn. Katherine was considered too old. That little nugget is covered in the FX mini-series.

Katherine Hepburn’s favorite director, George Cukor, confirmed everything she said in a chat with me in the early 70’s. Ironically, I was alerted about Cukor’s arrival at our TV station by our lobby receptionist, “Garry, there’s some old guy named George Cukor here to see you.” Cukor also confirmed the woes faced by Davis and Crawford. He was in the twilight of a magnificent career.

Bette Davis received verbal support from her ex-husband and All About Eve co-star, Gary Merrill. Merrill. Over many Bloody Mary’s, he regaled me with stories about life with Margo Channing/Bette Davis. The feuds with 20th Century Fox boss, Darryl F. Zanuck and vain efforts to stay forever young in Hollywood.

Merrill admitted that booze made life easier but made remembering your lines harder. He said Bette Davis found life especially hard after All About Eve. It was all downhill for her, with one bad picture offer after another. Why? Merrill shook his head and pointed at himself, indicating age.

Feud: Bette And Joan resonates with anyone who has worked in front of a camera for more than a few years. Trust me. I know.

FEUD: BETTE AND JOAN — PECULIAR MEMORIES

Garry has written his own version of this story, though it’s completely different. And a little bit the same. For him, it’s Hollywood. For me, it is memories.


In 1962, I was 15 years old, at the beginning of my senior year of high school. The school I attended was a giant of a school in Jamaica, Queens, New York. Five stories high (including the bell tower which was where the choir worked), it was shaped like a giant H. Most of the classrooms were on either end of the H with offices, bathroom, closets and all that stuff along the hallways.

There were no elevators. I suppose it never occurred to the designer of high schools that anyone might have a broken leg or something like that.

Jamaica High School was administered by the New York City Department of Education, which closed the school in 2014. The school’s landmark campus, located at the corner of 167th Street and Gothic Drive, remains open. It is now officially known as the Jamaica Educational Campus. It houses four smaller separately administered public high schools that share facilities and sports teams.

It was September 1962 when I noticed a big lump on my ankle. Pretty big. Hard, and it didn’t hurt. At all. Nothing to indicate it was from a bump or a fall. I ran my hand up and down my leg and thought about it. Probably nothing. At 15, everything is no big deal. But, because I also knew my mother had long and ugly bout with cancer (cancer? kids don’t get cancer!), I called her.

“I’ve got a lump on my leg,” I explained. “Here.” She ran her fingers over it.

“Does it hurt?”

“No.”

“Not even a little bit?”

“Nope. Just a lump. I was going to forget about it, but … you know. What do you think?”

“I think we need a doctor,” she said and promptly arranged for me to see the chief resident surgeon at NewYork Presbyterian Hospital. I should mention it was a great hospital. Compassionate, caring and very concerned for its patients. My mother had excellent taste in hospitals, something that would eventually serve me well as time caught up with me.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is a 1962 American psychological thriller-horror (and very camp) film produced and directed by Robert Aldrich, starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.

I was in the hospital in the middle of September. The surgeon — Dr. Waugh, I believe … many years ago and names slip away with time — said I had a tumor. What kind of tumor, he didn’t know and couldn’t know until surgery. If it was benign, they would just remove it and off I’d go into the world, none the worse for wear. If it was the other kind, I would likely lose my leg. The whole leg. I was not happy about that, but at least he didn’t mince words or make me feel like a moron.

A week later, I was in surgery. It wasn’t cancer. Benign but a really big tumor. It had wrapped itself around my tibia and femur. It had crawled up the leg and was in the process of pulling apart the two bones. So not cancer, but also, not nothing. They could not simply remove it. There was too much of it, so they took out a piece of my femur and replaced it with a very hard plastic bone. Packed the leg in whatever that stuff is they use and for two weeks, I slept with that leg on a huge pack of ice.

No getting out of bed for anything. At all. I was not to use that leg for a full six months because the implanted bone needed to set. The nurses used to hang out with me in the evening. They were my pals when I watched Invasion of the Body Snatchers. They checked under my bed to make sure there were no pods waiting for me. Then, it was time to go home.

With crutches.

My high school was gigantic and there was no way I could attend school until my leg finished healing. The school called the home teachers unit. There were, even back then, a lot of students who couldn’t attend regular school. Some had emotional issues. Others had physical problems. Some, like me, were having a temporary setback — broken legs or broken something or other — and needed someone to help them stay up to date. I doubted my absence would make that big a difference, but I worried if I didn’t take the exams as expected, I wouldn’t be able to graduate on time.

I got a teacher.

Are you still with me? Because it gets more complicated from here on.


My new teacher had other students. One of them, a young woman, lived nearby. She was schizophrenic, but also a nice young woman and a talented artist. My teacher thought that I would be good for her. She didn’t have any friends, being out of school. Thus we were introduced.

Mary was seventeen and I was fifteen. For fifteen, I was mature. As a mature person, I was still fifteen. I liked Mary, though she had the strangest eyes. She would look at me and it was as if she were seeing through me. Her pictures looked like that too.

One night, just after What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? was released, she suggested we go to the movies. I have never been a fan of horror movies. Not even the terribly fake, silly ones with giant lizards and moths. I would get nightmares, so I wasn’t allowed to go to any of them. It was the screaming in the night thing. It ruined everyone’s sleep.

Photos of Bette Davis & Joan Crawford, The ‘Feud’ characters in life

Mary wanted to see it. Said it would be a hoot. I was amenable. I figured I was not a tiny kid. I could watch a horror movie. I’d be fine, right? Of course I would.

I didn’t go to movies often. They were expensive. My allowance was enough so I could get to school and come home. If I walked rather than taking a bus, I could save the 15 cents each way. If I did it a lot, I could hoard enough cash to go to a movie and even have a coke. Since I hadn’t been going to school at all, I had money saved. We went to the movies.

I was uncomfortable. It wasn’t as icky as things with giant lizards, but bad enough. Yet, the night wasn’t over. Mary said: “There’s this wonderful place I like to go at night. It’s really cool. Wanna come?” What teenager could turn down a great invitation like that?  We went.

It was a nice little grave yard. My friend Mary danced through it, her scarf flowing in the breeze. Then, she ran about, gently kissing the tombstones. She was happy.

SUMMING UP

Garry and I are watching Feud – Bette and Joan. It’s about the making of that particular movie. Garry rather likes it. He knows it’s not a great movie. Probably not even a good one, but he likes it anyway. He knew a lot about the feud of the co-stars because he is into movies big time. This show has juicy bits above and beyond his own juicy bits. Also, he had done a piece with Gary Merrill (one of Bette Davis’ husbands) who had a son in Boston politics. Garry had a few juicy stories of his own.

I merely repeated I didn’t much like the movie, though I admitted I’d seen it in 1962, so I could change my mind. Garry finally asked me what I had against it? “Really,” he said. “It’s just a campy movie with two feuding actresses.”

I explained I had a different take on it. “Didn’t I tell you this already?” I asked him. I was sure we’d told each other everything. How could I have omitted this gem? But I had.

When I was done (and this is not the whole story … there’s more), he said: “You should write that.” And now, I have. This was one of the evenings I can clearly remember — fifty-five years later.

There’s no moral to this story, except that my feelings about What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? are uniquely mine.

REALITY SWAP! – BY TOM CURLEY

I figured it out!

The solution!

To reality!

This reality!

This reality TV reality!

The problem is not so much that we are living in a reality TV reality. The problem is that we’re living in a REALLY BAD reality TV reality. Face it, it’s just not working folks.

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Do you know what does work? Fictional TV reality! Think about it. There’s a show on TV today called “Designated Survivor.” In it, the whole U.S. government is blown up during a State of the Union Address.  The Executive Branch, the Congress, the Supreme Court, all gone. The one cabinet member that has to stay home becomes the President. He has to rebuild the entire government from the ground up. And while he’s doing that, there’s a mysterious cabal,  the ones responsible  for blowing everybody up, that’s also trying to take over the country. In spite of all that, their government and their President are doing a hell of a lot better job than ours!

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So here’s what we do.  Let’s just switch realities! It’s a win-win for everybody. How do we do this? Simple.

First: The current administration leaves the government and instead, goes on real TV 24 hours a day. On Fox News. They all go to work on sets that look just like Washington, D.C.  They do the exact same things they do now. It will be just like on  “Big Brother”. Only bigger. And on Fox News.

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They can pass laws, write executive orders, cancel health insurance for the whole nation, eliminate “Meals On Wheels” or just kick puppies. Whatever they want! Trump supporters won’t be upset because they only watch Fox News. As far as they’ll be concerned, everything is normal.

It just isn’t real.

“And it’s only on Fox.”

Second: OK, great you say. But what about real reality? Who’s going to be the real President? The real cabinet? Here’s who. Real honest to God fictional ones.

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And the cool part is, we have a lot of options. We have lots of choices for President.

We could have Jeb Bartlett. He was a great President. Don’t believe me? Watch “The West Wing.”

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We’ve got Dennis Haysbert. I’m pretty sure he was President twice.

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We’ve got Morgan Freeman. Not only was he President, but he was also God!

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And the list goes on. Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline, Jack Nicholson, Peter Sellers … (Oh, for God’s sake, Google the rest.) You get my point.

Now, appointing a cabinet becomes fun!

Secretary of State? How about Tia Leoni? She’s already a Secretary of State and seems to be doing a pretty decent job of it every Sunday. Let’s give her the job for the rest of the week.

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Attorney General? Julianna Margulies. She’s a lawyer, ran for State’s Attorney and by almost all accounts, is a good wife.

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Secretary of Defense? Well I admit, at first, I was leaning toward Schwarzenegger or Stallone. Then it hit me.

CHUCK NORRIS! Think about it. We could cut the military budget down to nothing. Nobody’s going to go to war with us. Nobody fucks with Chuck Norris!

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ISIS COMMANDER: We will destroy America!

ISIS GUY WATCHING THE NEWS: Sir, America just made Chuck Norris Secretary of Defense.

ISIS COMMANDER:  Shit.

(Insert favorite Chuck Norris joke here. My favorite? Chuck Norris once counted to infinity. Twice.)

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Department of Education? The cast of Sesame Street.

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Depart of Health and Human Services? Pick any of the stern but kindly Chiefs of Staff from the medical show of your choice. Any one of them will do just fine. (Except for Dr. Zorba. I’m pretty sure he’s dead.) (Extra points if you get that reference.)

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Department of Housing? Chris Rock. OK, he really doesn’t have any more qualifications for the job than Ben Carson does. But I just like the guy. He’s funny.

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(If you get that reference, you get double extra points.) I could go on, but you get the point.

How do we do this? Simple. We have an election. Not the usual kind. Between voter suppression, low turnouts, gerrymandering, and the Electoral College, our elections are not working out so well.  I mean, that’s how we got into this mess to begin with.

So what do we do? We have an election the same way reality TV shows do it. Everybody gets to vote from their smartphone, their computer, their tablet, or Android device. You can email or text your vote. You are only allowed to vote up to 20 times on any given device. You can vote up until 10 pm Eastern Standard Time.

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Granted, this will fire up the Millennials and confuse the hell out of old folks. Maybe it’s unfair, but it’s still better than the Electoral College. We can set up March Madness style brackets and have an election every week for maybe a month until we get a winner. More office pools!

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And we, the people, elect everybody. The President doesn’t get to appoint his cabinet. We do.

It’s Democracy at work!

It could work!

As a cheese-faced person who somehow actually became President of the United States said to a bunch of totally incredulous Black people:

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“Give it a try. What have you got to lose?”


MINIMALIST

Minimal. Minimalist. Minimalism.

So our government is now a minimalist government, giving our hard-earned money to wherever it shows a profit. Alternatively, perhaps we the Scrooges of the world, the ones who won’t give Tiny Tim’s dad a day off to celebrate Christmas. The line is pretty damned thin.


minimalist
noun
1. a person who advocates or practices minimalism in art or music
2. a person advocating minor or moderate reform in politics.
adjective
1. relating to minimalism in art or music.
2. advocating moderate political policies.

What is the difference between a minimalist and skinflint or cheapskate? Is there a difference? I live in a world where we suddenly can’t afford to give elderly people a hot meal, or hungry kids a hot lunch. Or medicine to poor people who are sick.

Maybe that’s minimalist. I think it’s just cheap. Twisted and sick beyond words. But hey, that’s me. I never minded paying a few more dollars so that people who needed help could get some. I never thought the idea of helping others was a bad thing.


skin·flint (noun) informal

  1. A person who spends as little money as possible; a miser;
  2. Synonyms: miser, penny-pincher, Scrooge, pinchpenny; and more

What do you think? Does our military actually need another $54 billion (is it billions)? I keep losing some of the zeroes on the dollars. You know, the military didn’t ask for all that money. I’m betting a lot of military guys would be happier knowing their elderly relatives will get a hot meal.

Lord knows, the guys in Washington get lots of hot meals. Every day. Big ones. The best medical care on earth. A salary that will never go away. Unlimited sick days.

I don’t see them giving their goodies away. Even in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” Scrooge didn’t keep the goodies for himself. He lived the way he thought everyone should live. In a cold, empty house. Yet he was considered the ultimate miser. So what do we call our miser-in-chief?

So, when you get to thinking about what’s going on? Think:


MISER
SKINFLINT
PINCHPENNY
CHEAPSKATE
SCROOGE

Because that is us. You, me, everyone.

Where are those hideous ghosts when we really need them? Come back, Dickens. We have some work for you to do!

SHARING MY WORLD – SPRING HAS DROPPED BY!

SHARE MY WORLD AS SPRING ARRIVES — OFFICIALLY


How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? 

Some mornings I feel like I’m running a close second to Methuselah. Other morning, I feel better than that, but from a physical point of view, my body has been beaten up pretty badly. On a good day, I can get moving and do some stuff. In a dry, warm climate, I can do a lot more. Unfortunately, this isn’t a dry warm climate, so the weather and I have a relationship. Good days? I’m almost kind of normal-ish.

How old does that feel? Honestly, I have no idea. I had my first spine surgery when I was 19 years old. I’ve had major surgery almost every year for a very long time, so I’m broken, repaired, and replaced. I didn’t feel young when I was young, so I’m not sure if this has any real meaning for me.

But.

BIG but. My mental processes are fine. I buzz along nicely. Aside from memory lapses which my husband says are because I’m trying to take in too much stuff, I’m in better shape than I’ve been for a long time. My brain doesn’t have an age. It’s mature because I’ve been around. And sharp. Because I’ve been around.

So, you’re on your way out and it’s raining. Do you know where your umbrella is or do you frantically search for it all over your apartment/house?

I know where at least three umbrellas are. One is a huge “doorman’s” umbrella, good for at least two or three people.

Do I ever use an umbrella?

I stopped using them when we lived in Boston. Boston streets are wind tunnels. It was always too windy to use them, so while I have them here, there, and elsewhere, they stay where they are. Poor things never come out to play. Sorry old umbrellas.

Do you recharge your energy by going out with friends for a good time or by spending with quiet time alone?

We stay home. We don’t have local friends anyway. We did. They died. We haven’t found new ones. But we are very good together and have a lot of fun. Lots of laughing. Which is good, right?

Name three things you and your spouse, partner or best friend  to have in common.

We — all of us — like movies, television, and books. We are all thinkers, writers. We have stories to tell and we tell them. All of us write, too. And the laughter really does tie us together more than anything else.

We are smart, funny, wordy, and witty. And we all love animals — dogs, cats, anything furry. And oddly, we all live in the country, though all of us used to live in town. I’m sure that means something, too, but I have no idea what.

And yes, we are getting a bit crotchety, but nothing has made us stop thinking. As long as we can think and laugh, we’re okay.

So far, so good.