IMAGINE – REEL AND REAL – by GARRY ARMSTRONG

IMAGINE is a mind game for people of all ages. You let your mind run free on all things, great and small. It’s fantasy. Stuff you find in day and night dreams. It used to be fodder for columnists on brain freeze days.

For years, I dreamed of being a movie star. I sat in junior and senior high school classes, oblivious to teachers and writing imaginary movie casts that had me top-billed opposite everyone from Clark Gable to John Wayne to Sidney Poitier. My love interests ranged from Greta Garbo to Jean Harlow to Myrna Loy to Lena Horne to Dorothy Dandridge.

My filmography began with “Introducing Garry Armstrong as ____” to my biggest box office film with the marquee showing GARRY ARMSTRONG in “AMERICA’S ICON,” A Garry Armstrong Production.

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Then there was my All-Star baseball career. In those same high school notebooks, I wrote lineups that had me batting between Pee Wee Reese and Duke Snider for my beloved Brooklyn Dodgers. I was the full-time left fielder the Dodgers never could find. Little Sandy Amoros filled in for me during the ’55 World Series to make that amazing catch against Yogi Berra. Dick Young of The New York Daily News wrote a column calling me a credit to my race and a likely successor to Jackie Robinson.

I played “fungo” and shagged flies in the outfield with a young “bonus baby” pitcher named Sandy Koufax. Sandy was very wild but it was obvious he had talent.

Fast forward to the 1970’s. In the real world, I was a young TV news reporter in Boston and becoming something of a local celebrity. It’s easy when you appear on television several times a day. People greet you, shake your hand, and ask for autographs. It wasn’t enough. I still needed my IMAGINE mind game. I used to check myself in the mirror, fully dressed for work. I’d talk to the mirror, chatting with an imaginary TV audience.

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“It’s good to be here”, I told the audience, “Johnny’s not feeling well and the NBC folks asked me to fill in. Anything for my friend, Johnny”. Yes, I was sub-hosting “The Tonight Show.” I absorbed the applause as I headed out the door for the real world TV news room.

These imagined “Tonight” show appearances occurred before Robert DeNiro’s “King of New York” movie. DeNiro’s imagined and delusional TV celebrity was a little too close to home for me. I never watched it again.

Remember I dreamed of becoming a movie star? Delusional, right? My niche as a TV news reporter was rising. I was interviewing and socializing with legendary movie stars like Katherine Hepburn, James Cagney, Charlton Heston, Robert Mitchum, Paul Newman, and Gregory Peck among others. This was real life. It still wasn’t enough.

Robert Redford and an all-star cast were filming “The Great Gatsby” in Newport, Rhode Island. I was assigned to cover the film shoot.

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I was a familiar face in Rhode Island. So people approached me for autographs as I sought interviews with Redford, Mia Farrow, Sam Waterston and other Hollywood stars. It was truly bizarre! Someone dropped my named with an assistant producer and I wound up as a bit player. At nights, after filing my live shots and taped reports, I would imagine myself being promoted from bit player to major star in the movie. After a few drinks, I could swear I had an early call to work with “Bob and Mia”.

I DID have an early call … to do my TV shots on the film production. My imagined self conflicted with my real self as I did the TV live shots.

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It got more confusing when Redford and some of the other movie stars watched as we were doing our TV live shots. I recall “Bob” smiling and giving me a thumbs up after I finished one live shot. A few more drinks sandwiched between the movie and TV work and my days were spinning a bit off kilter. The filming wrapped. The stars went home to Hollywood. My bit part ended up on the cutting room floor, although I think I may have made it in a crowd scene.

Back in Boston, I received lots of attention from friends because of my hobnobbing with the movie people. I think teasing would be closer to the truth. It was business as usual. Murders, fires, politics and perverts to cover for the newscasts.

I had trouble re-kindling my IMAGINE game. There was too much drama going on in the real world.

Garry as moderator on panel for prison reform (2016)
Garry as moderator on panel for prison reform (2016)

Fast forward again into my retirement years. I tried my hand at “background acting” in some major films being shot locally. It was just “extra” work, but some hopefuls like the “background acting” term. Sounds fancier. I briefly imagined myself being discovered as a “mature” movie star. I even mingled with some of the stars in the movies I worked. Once again, all of my scenes ended up on the cutting room floor.

Garry's acceptance speech at Broadcasting Hall Of Fame, September 2013
Garry’s acceptance speech at Broadcasting Hall Of Fame, September 2013

Finally, the hours and days reminded me too much of my years as a TV news reporter. Too long. I hated getting up early.

I bid adieu to my dreams of movie stardom. I don’t need the IMAGINE game anymore.

DO YOU RECOGNIZE ME?

I wear eyeglasses. I have worn them since sixth grade, at which time I was about 10 or 11 years old. I have tried contact lenses, but my eyes do not like them. The ridge across the bridge of my nose where my glasses fit is as much a feature of my face as my eyebrows. More, since my eyebrows are changing, getting grayer and bushier, while the eyeglasses are much the same as those I have worn since college.

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About half the time, I take my glasses off if someone is taking my picture. The rest of the time, I forget to remove them because, as I said, they are part of my face.

Thing is, I have learned from DC Comics, that my eyeglasses are actually a disguise. When I am wearing them, no one recognizes me. Even my own husband doesn’t recognize me without eyeglasses. I have asked him many times and he has always confirmed this. It is perhaps one of the strong alternate truths we employ around the house.

When I don’t wear eyeglasses, I have super powers. That’s the deal.

Glasses? Regular person.

No glasses? Super powers.

Except I can’t see without my eyeglasses, so whatever powers my eyeglass-free self has at her command, I can’t do much with them because … I can’t see. Imagine, briefly, Wonder Woman trying to save the day, only to realize that she can’t tell what’s going on because she can’t see anything without spectacles. But — if she puts them on to figure it out, not only does she blow her cover, but she loses her powers. A cruel joke?

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I have written several letters of complaint to The League of Heroes, but they have not answered me. Perhaps I should ask to speak to a supervisor?

RECOGNIZE | DAILY PROMPT

FIVE YEARS OF SERENDIPITY

Today is Serendipity’s fifth birthday. Very few blogs survive this long. I’m amazed to find myself in such rarefied company!

Since February 2012 when I decided to give this blogging thing a shot, to an eclectic site featuring five intelligent, creative, smart — and often funny — writers creating relevant, unique content, it’s been quite a trip. We’ve got friends around the world in places I’ve only dreamed about and probably will never be able to visit in person, but I go there regularly in spirit.

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Through Serendipity, I’ve traveled to every continent and I hope the journey never ends. There’s so much world out there.

It’s really hopping on the Internet these days and we are closing rapidly on half a million views. I’m personally astounded at this turn of events and all I can say, is wow, thanks everyone! And it’s not because of one or two viral posts but rather a compendium of many posts, by me, but  now by Rich, Garry, Ellin, and Tom, too.

Online friends are real. I feel like I know you and share your lives and I hope you feel the same about me. I miss you when I don’t hear from you, worry when you are sick. Always wish you were my real-life neighbor so we could sit and schmooze and eat too many cookies.

A blog is a living thing. It thrives because of you. You read. You comment — and you inspire me. We engage each other. Exchange ideas, news. We teach each other all kinds of stuff. We enrich each others’ lives. We make each other laugh and cry. In time of trouble, you make me feel better. Because out there, in that great big world, we are friends.

I didn’t think I’d still be here — writing or even breathing — in 2017. I certainly didn’t expect this bizarre world in which we are currently living. But, if there’s a bright side to this mess. Life may be horrifying, frightening, weird, and surreal, but it’s not boring. There’s always something to write about. Maybe you shouldn’t think about that too hard. Maybe I shouldn’t, either. In fact, forget I even said it.

From all of us, to all of you, I’m very glad we inhabit the same planet and are connected to each other. I love you guys.

SOLITUDE AT SUNRISE

SOLITUDE | THE DAILY POST WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE


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Just before five in the morning. Ogunquit beach, Maine.

A solitary walker on the beach as the sun rises. A seagulls wait on the shore. It’s breakfast time for birds.

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I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2017
I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017

WHICH WAY IN THE SNOW?

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – February 1, 2017


A little bit of snow changes the appearance of the world. Not just a little bit. It can make familiar places nearly unrecognizable. Turn ordinary streets into magical kingdoms. Smooth out the lumps and bumps to make a surreal, serene picture postcard.

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Cee which way photo challenge