SUMMER BOUQUET – MACRO PRACTICE

It turns out using a macro lens is different than using other lenses. Getting the lens to focus exactly where you want it to focus is not entirely straightforward, especially because this lens doubles as a 120 mm portrait lens.

Sometimes, it doesn’t seem to know whether it wants to focus close or long. It can be surprisingly stubborn about changing.

As you can tell, I’ve been practicing. I think I’ve almost got it.

While we are on the subject of flowers, check out Cee’s Dahlias on her “flower of the day” post.

WHAT PAGE OF WHICH AUTOBIOGRAPHY?

I just couldn’t write today’s prompt. 

Write a third page from a non-existent book? Hell no. Why would anyone want to read it? I wouldn’t read it. Not my own, not yours either.

Instead, I leave you with a favorite quote which somehow fits, if you assume the book goes like this:

Page 1 – I am born.

Page 2 – I live.

Page 3 – I die.


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Frank Skinner *, “You can spend your whole life trying to get people to like you, but at the end of the day the turnout at your funeral will be largely dependent on the weather”

(And whether or not anyone can get a day off work.)

* Frank Skinner (born Graham Christopher Collins on 28 January 1957) is a British writer, comedian and actor.

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!

Dear Mom,

It’s Flag Day for most people of a certain age. Mom, “people of a certain age” is a not so subtle reference to anyone over 60 these days. But for anyone in your immediate and extended family, today is a celebration of your birthday!

It’s a celebration of your life and the nurturing given to countless people. Many still refer to you as “Auntie Esther.” It’s hard to separate fact from fiction when listening to stories people tell about you. I say print the legend!

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It’s been a busy year, Mom. Your great-granddaughter Kaity is a high school graduate — with honors. Headed to college in the fall, with nursing as her major. You could probably tell her stories about your days as a nurse. Kaity has a lot of your grit and determination. You would be proud of her. She calls Marilyn and me the “old people.” You were right when you said “what goes around, comes around.”

You were right about a lot of things, Mom. I remember the look you gave me when I spouted all that college stuff about world-changing events and how “old people” should keep up.

You and Daddy are probably grinning at the accomplishments of your “old age” son, Anton.

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“Tony”, as Daddy called him, is celebrating his 25th anniversary as conductor of the St. Olaf Choir. Anton is mentoring a new generation of chorale musicians. He has brought diversity and creativity to the St. Olaf Music Department. Your “baby” is now an acclaimed international figure in his profession.

Anton and Garry

Honestly, I love teasing Anton. I remind him — publicly, when I can — of when I used to change his diapers. I’m sure you remember  that I wasn’t happy with my “big brother” duties. All my friends were outside playing baseball and I wanted to be there, too.

Mom, will you not interrupt me when I’m talking? Please?

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Where was I? Oh, right. Billy. He’s doing okay, enjoying his first full year of retirement. I’m not sure he would use the word “enjoy” but he’s maintaining the family home. Speaking of home, our house is turning 60 next year. I remember when it was brand, spanking new. We had just moved in. It had that great “new house” smell.

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Hold on, Mom. I’m not finished yet. No, I’m not interrupting. Yes, I know who brought me into this world. No, I’m not giving you a “look.” Just one more thing …

Marilyn and I will be celebrating our silver wedding anniversary in September. Yep!! 25 years — up and down — the best years of our lives. Yes, Mom, Marilyn is the girl — forever.

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We’ll be in Cooperstown, New York, for our anniversary. I’m still a passionate baseball fan and it seems just right to celebrate at the Hall of Fame. Marilyn made it her business to learn baseball after we got married because she knew how much I love the game. Now she is a very savvy fan.

That’s it, Mom. We’ll toast your birthday with PowerAde and PowerZero. Betcha that’s a surprise, Mom.

Please tell Daddy we miss him, too.

Happy Birthday, Mom!!

Love,

Garry

NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN

The Sean Connery Years, part 2

When Sean Connery looks across the card table during a game of Baccarat Chemin de Fer in the opening of Dr. No to give his name to his female opponent, he started one of the greatest movie series ever by responding, “Bond, James Bond.”  Since then the Bond films have gone on to be one of the most successful movies franchises ever.  The eight Harry Potter films achieved unprecedented box office numbers.  If you add up all the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, they get number one on the revenue list, but there are 11 popular and recent films; you know, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, and they are not all about one character so does it count?  There are 25 Bond films, and it will take at least 2 more for the series to equal the Potter gross revenue figures.

Previously we recapped the first 4 Bond films, staring Connery as the super spy.  Connery was back for the fifth outing in 1967’s You Only Live Twice, based loosely, very loosely, on the 12th Ian Fleming novel of the same name.  Since the novel is a continuation of a story line from a previous novel, not yet filmed, we are in for some Cold War era rewrites here.

Consider this paragraph a giant spoiler alert.  In the opening Bond is sent to Japan where he is set up and killed by foreign agents.  The naval commander is buried at sea and that is the end of Bond.  OK, it’s not. It is all a set up so Bond can go under cover in Japan to work with the head of the Japanese secret service to find out who has captured an American spacecraft.  Here we get to see Bond train as a ninja and invade, along with a female assistant, of course, an island run by an evil SPECTRE mastermind.  There are battles, explosions, chases and remarkable rescues, just the usual Bond magic.

Remarkably, the next movie is based on the previous novel, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969).  The sixth Bond production brings on a new actor in the role of the super hero and a new director.  Since Connery decided to retire from the role, the producers elected to go with an unknown Australian actor and model, George Lazenby.   His good looks and screen tests won him the role.  It was the only time a person not from Great Britain would take the lead.

The story involves a “Bond girl” who James saves at the opening, then later meets at a casino. It’s actress Diana Rigg in an early role as a Countess. Her father sets Bond on an investigation of her solicitor which in turn leads Bond to an evil plot by the head of SPECTRE to set in motion a plan to distribute biological warfare.  This may all sound rather fantastic, but this time the producers tried to stay closer to the book.  Yes, the film series got people reading the books.  Imagine that!

By the end of filming, Lazenby had decided that he had enough of Bond, even though he was offered the next movie which was to be The Man With The Golden Gun.  He passed on it and the movie was put on hold.  It was reported that Lazenby’s agent told him the Bond series would be out dated by the 1970’s anyway.

After a couple of years and a film that did not have the box office magic of the Connery films, there was only one thing for the producers to do.  They decided to bring back the magic.  The story was switched to Diamonds Are Forever (1971).  Guy Hamilton was brought back to direct.  He was the director of the critically acclaimed Goldfinger.  John Barry again did the score, as he did for all but one of the Bond films at this point.  Shirley Bassey, who sang the title tune for Goldfinger, is back for this title tune.  There is a gorgeous “Bond girl” with Jill St. John.  Just one more element was needed to insure a return to the top for the movie series.

Producers gave their Bond actor over a million dollars (unheard of territory then)  and a piece of the gross to take on the super suave spy.  Finally, the major challenge was met and Sean Connery was set to return as “007.”

The story is based on the 4th Ian Fleming novel published in 1956.  Bond is chasing diamond smugglers and the action moves from South Africa to Holland to the United Kingdom and on to Las Vegas.  Of course, a bit of a rewrite of the story allows us to have an old nemesis, Ernest Stavro Blofeld, a SPECTRE mastermind. The Bond girl is appropriately named, Tiffany Case.  Fleming loved to give the girls names with double meanings within the story.  The Las Vegas chase scene almost makes the movie experience worth the time. The casino owner at the middle of the thriller is played by Jimmy Dean.  Yes, that Jimmy Dean, country singer and sausage king.

From here the film series moves on to the Roger Moore years.  In 1973 Moore becomes the famous spy for the next seven films.  Connery moves on to other film projects, promising never to play the secret agent again.

Owners of the Thunderball rights, won in a court battle, desired to film the movie.  Additional court battles over what could be used would follow upon any attempt to make a rival Bond film in the midst of the Bond years.  Even while the Roger Moore films were being released, plans for a rival Bond movie were moving forward.  Not wanting to call the film by the same name and facing a variety of legal challenges, the producers went ahead with a similar story and no rights to the iconic music.  Even with a good script, how could they be successful in the same year with the release of a Roger Moore film?

The only solution seemed to be a film starring Sean Connery as James Bond, but Connery was 52 years old.  Moore, on the other hand, was older.  While Connery looked fit and able to play an action hero, as many his age had for action heroes, the story was modified as if “007” was under used due to age and he is brought back to deal with the hijacking of 2 nuclear bombs.  Like Thunderball, there is a limited time to find the bombs and save the world from massive destruction.  Connery makes the most out of playing an aging James Bond who can still deliver in times of crisis.  The overall result is a film much more satisfying than the original Thunderball.  Some thought the short underwater climax was disappointing, but it was better than the overblown original.

Connery provides us with all the charm you would expect of the world’s most famous “secret” agent.  The film did almost as well at the box office as the Roger Moore/James Bond film that year, Octopussy.  The title of the Thunderball remake was suggested by Connery’s wife who reminded them that Connery had previously said “Never again” to playing the famous British agent.

Related:

Bond, James Bond – The Sean Connery Years