GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN HOPEFULLY – Marilyn Armstrong

Friday RDP: ABSENT


I couldn’t have chosen a better word for the day if I had tried.

Garry’s got another audiology appointment in about an hour and I have a doctor’s appointment in another section of the valley at three in the afternoon. Between one appointment and the other, we’ll be absent all day. By the time we get back, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to feel like writing more stuff.

These are two places that aren’t far apart, mind you — but there is no road that goes between Worcester and Upton. To get to Worcester, it’s north on Route 146 to 290, a quick right on Route 9 and voilà.

To get to Upton, you basically have to come all the way back to Uxbridge to pick up Route 16 and head east to Milford, then north to Upton. We have lots of north-south roads, but few east-west roads. No idea why.

Sometimes, living around here is very inconvenient. Getting old in a place that lacks basic services for older people is more and more difficult.

One of these issues is trash and recycling. I know we don’t have recycling locally. We also don’t have a dump and our trash people are having a very hard time finding places to put all that stuff.

Upwards toward Route 98

We’re going to recycle again because I live in hope that at least some of the stuff will actually get used to some better purpose, but I don’t hold out a lot of hope. New England does not have the services it needs to do this job right. Our dumps are full and have been for 100 years or more and it’s a small area without a lot of open lands to build more facilities.

It all costs money to recycle around here. Much of the recycling gets shipped overseas to whoever is actually recycling. It used to be China, but they seem to be overdosing on their own mess, so I have no idea where we are shipping it these days. I suspect it just lives on trucks and moves from one place to another and eventually gets dumped in the ocean or a river somewhere.

Garbage is going to kill us. How depressing is that?

The standard recycling bin here is an open bin with no wheels. Which would be impossible to get up the driveway to the road, so we are paying an extra two dollars a month to used a wheeled barrow to move the plastic bottles and cut-up cardboard every first and third Tuesday to the front. We did this before, but the truck never stopped to pick up the stuff. They kept saying we didn’t have it outside in time, but since we put it out the night before, that’s not true. They just didn’t stop. We were not on their agenda.

I’m hoping it works out better this time.

They will adjust our bill. We get the senior discount but we don’t get a senior assistance program, so we are still — no matter how old we get — required to push that barrel up that long driveway. Not me because I physically can’t do it, so it’s Garry. He’s 76 and I have this awful mental image of 90-year-old Garry pushing the trash up the hill in the middle of the winter or in the pouring rain.

It’s not a happy thought.

Of all the things that are annoying about getting old? Many of them seem like such small things until you realize you can’t do them. Suddenly, they aren’t so small.

So absent is the name of our day. I apologize, but I’ve been writing a lot more than I can manage. I will do the best I can … but if I can’t get it done, I apologize in advance.

I also can’t read and comment on everyone’s blog, even if I love you to death. I don’t have the time to even open all the blogs, much less comment on each. I try to at least take a look, but I’m out of time.

Life has entered our world. Blogging is great, but it won’t get us to the doctor on time or get the dog to the vet or clean the kitchen floor.

Life.

Can’t live with it. Can’t live without it.

MOORE BOND

The Roger Moore Years, Part 1 by RICH PASCHALL


After five films the original James Bond, Sean Connery, left the series, but when George Lazenby only stuck around for one film despite an original offer for more, Connery returned for Diamonds Are Forever.  The franchise rebounded nicely from the comparatively weak showing with Lazenby, but Connery was tired of 007 and thought he was a bit too old for the part. He said he would never play Bond again, but Never Say Never Again was in his future.

If Connery was feeling a bit old for the part, then it would seem a bit surprising that the next actor to play Commander Bond was almost 3 years older.  Roger Moore, however, had all the qualities the producers wanted in James Bond.  He was handsome and charming and had experience as a super sleuth. Moore was Simon Templar in the long running television series, The Saint.  In a bit of irony, in an early episode of The Saint, Templar is confused for Bond.

First up for Roger Moore was Live And Let Die (1973).  The eighth Bond film was based on the second Ian Fleming novel.  The series made no attempt to film the books in order.  While some novels actually continued elements of previous stories, it was not a series in the same sense as Harry Potter, for example.

The film brings back Guy Hamilton as director.  He not only directed Diamonds Are Forever, but also the critically acclaimed Goldfinger.  Sir Paul McCartney contributed the Academy Award nominated theme song. Roger Moore proved to be the engaging secret agent the producers had hoped.

The film does not stand up well to the test of time.  The cliché ridden antics of 1970s era films are on full display.  The chase scenes are incredibly long and the introduction of a stereotypical and somewhat comical southern sheriff into the action is a bit on the absurd side.  Nevertheless, the Bond franchise is now moving ahead again, with a full shaker of vodka martinis.

Next for Moore was Man With The Golden Gun (1974).  It was supposed to be the second Lazenby film, but when he refused to do the project, it was put on the shelf for Connery’s return in a different story.  Even though it was the thirteenth Ian Fleming novel, the movie found a way to incorporate elements from the previous film based on the second novel.  With more over blown and lengthy chases, the film even finds a way to include the southern sheriff from the previous film.  Yes, he is on vacation in southeast Asia with his wife and finds himself in the midst of the chase.  An incredible jump with a car by Bond looks a lot like one done by Pierce Brosnan as Bond decades later.

man with the golden gun

Guy Hamilton directed Golden Gun as well.  After two long films with improbable and lengthy chase scenes, he was done. While the films did well as the box office, Man With the Golden Gun was not well received by critics.  It was time to move on

The third Roger Moore film finds the hero hitting his stride, in my humble opinion, with The Spy Who Loved Me (1977).  An American and a Soviet submarine disappear and Bond is sent to investigate along with a beautiful Soviet agent, who would prefer to kill Bond for the death of a Soviet agent who had once tried to kill Bond.  The chase scene on skis is more exciting than the car and boat chase scenes of the previous two movies.  The intrigue is there, the Bond girl is beautiful, the scenery is great and the Bond devices and tricks supplied by “Q” are up to par.  This film finally has the charm of the Connery films, something that has been lacking despite the box office success.

The fourth Roger Moore film, Moonraker (1979), bears almost no resemblance to the 1955 novel from which it takes its name.  Nothing in the Fleming story could have suggested this.  The film moves full speed ahead into the realm of science fiction, retaining some of the traditional Bond elements before Roger blasts off into space with the latest “Bond girl.”

Instead of preventing a nuclear missile from destroying London, the film has Bond on a quest to find a missing space shuttle.  You will recall the previous film had him looking for missing submarines.  Now it is not just London that Bond must save, but the entire world.  Who knew so many space shuttles were at the ready of the villain and NASA?  Yes, there will be battle and a chase in outer space.

In the novel, the villain is an ex-Nazi.  Remember the book is from 1955 so the ex-Nazi and Soviet connection is plausible.  In the updated story, the villain is attempting to set up a scenario where he can establish a master race.  I won’t go into exactly how he intends to pull this off, put it requires space ships, satellites, a space station and lots of lasers.

These films were not made in the rapid succession of the early Bond films.  After the fourth film, Moore was 52 years old, but continued to be a popular Bond.  Moonraker was the top grossing Bond film at that point and Moore would be in demand for more films.  Yes, the Roger Moore era was nowhere near the finish.

The Roger Moore Years, Part two on Sunday.

 

A PHOTO A WEEK CHALLENGE – DETAILED ACOMA SEED POTS – Marilyn Armstrong

Acoma Pueblo Pottery

The pottery of Acoma is strongly recognized for fluted rims, thin walls and geometric design. Potters of the pueblo implement similar techniques found in the local region, from collecting of the clay material from limited sources, forming the vessel for a specific use, decorated with hand-painted patterns and designs, to firing the pot at high temperature.

Traditional Acoma pottery is made using a slate-like clay found within the hills surrounding the Pueblo. When fired using traditional methods, this clay allows the potters to form very thin walls, a common and sought after characteristic of Acoma pottery.

Smaller seed pot

I bought these two seed pots years ago. I would have loved to own more of this pottery, but it is — not surprisingly — expensive and fragile. These designs are painted freehand. Again, no surprise, these artists often suffer from serious eye-strain.

Larger seed pot

Amazingly beautiful, incredibly detailed work … and these are not by any means the most detailed work. There is much finer work available. These were what I could afford.

Two Acoma seed pots

DEVELOPING AN IDEA – Marilyn Armstrong

Develop – from Fandango’s One Word Challenge

Garry and I have had this particular conversation often. For him, writing is a developmental process. He has to “see” the entire post, or at the very least, he has to see the beginning and a hint of where it is going before he can start writing.

As far as I can tell, for blog writing anyway, I don’t develop anything. I get a little “bing” in my brain and I start writing. If, for some reason — like it’s the middle of the night or I’m cooking or something I really can’t stop — I try desperately to hang onto the tweak of an idea until I get my fingers on a keyboard.

When I was writing manuals for software and hardware, that was an entirely different story. I had to see in my mind the entire process, from the introduction to the final indices. While I didn’t use 3X5 cards (I never quite got “into” the whole card thing), I did write a preliminary table of contents — subject to massive changes when I got my hands on the product and realized the engineers had no idea how the product would be used.

I excused them for not knowing because while they understood what the software would do,  they had no interest in users.

I wanted to know how people would make it work and it was my job to help them do that. How they would interface with it. What graphics they would need. When they would want panels of information. When they need “instant” data — such as press “CTL D” for valid entries. And when they would need extensive background data.

It all depended on who was going to be using the product. Was it going to be a civilian who wasn’t entirely sure how the mouse worked? Or an engineer using this software to create new software for a new product. Two very different species of users.

Surely the engineer would not need an explanation of how to use a mouse or turn on the computer.

The hardest manual to develop was when the manual would be used by civilian and experienced people. Then you had to write for the least experienced user. Because someone who already knew the information could skip it and move on, but someone who was clueless would be grateful it was there.

A badly written manual — and these days they are all badly written because they are generated from developer’s notes and not actually “written” at all — can effectively confuse anyone. I remember one manual which used symbols — probably an early version of emojis — instead of text. Problem?

There were a lot of those tiny little symbols and if you didn’t have good closeup vision (anyone over 40 knows what I mean), it was amazingly hard to tell one from the other.

There were so many. You needed a glossary of symbols just to know what you were looking at. Mind you, this was a beautifully designed manual — written by (you guessed it) a designer. Her goal was to make it look great, so it was gorgeous. Useless, but pretty.

I didn’t get the job of writing it, but I got the call to come in and repair the disaster. I made a lot more money than I would have had I been given the job in the first place.

Probably, all of this explains why fiction is a big problem for me. Good fiction — even flash fiction — requires at least a minimal level of development. From beginning to conclusion, you need to see your way through the story to the end.

I write really good non-fiction. I write amazing instructions when I am trying. The rest of the time? I unwind ideas with a lot of diversions because that’s the way I talk. A story needs to roll out and much of its magic are the words themselves, the music they make. That kind of music doesn’t require structure or development. It is a feeling, a sense, a kind of magic, and beautiful words.

These days, in retirement, I don’t develop, plan, or structure. I write and what comes out is the whole of it.


Note: I do not have a single copy of any book I wrote in hard copy. I think I dumped them when I retired. I wish I’d saved one or two. But if I get desperate, I have a couple as documents, though I have a feeling they are in a format I can’t access anymore.

BEAM ME SOMEWHERE! – Marilyn Armstrong

As airlines make traveling by air increasingly miserable, unfriendly, and physically uncomfortable, those of us who yearn to travel but abhor airports and airplanes have been waiting for teleportation.

You know. “Scotty, beam me up” and off you go to another place. It might be earth. It might be an outer planet in another galaxy. It might be … well … the bar in Star Wars of that cool one in Second Generation! Who the hell knows? And who really cares?

Although I foresee a limit on luggage, I’m sure I could work with that. They are making gigantic strides in travel clothing every day!

Warning, though. This is one of the many things we won’t be able to do unless we vote very Blue this November and remove the Orange Menace from the White House. Anyone who feels we need a wall at the Mexican border isn’t going to allow teleportation for just anyone from anywhere to anywhere else.

Certainly, I can’t imagine his nibs allowing ALIENS beaming into the land of the free and the home of the cringing, whining, terrified white people who voted for Orange Peel. If you think brown, red, yellow, or beige people whose native language isn’t English are out to get you, what will you do with a creature with tentacles who loves drinking grout cleaner?

What a bunch of dumbasses. We could own the universe, but instead, we prefer being locked up behind our own walls lest we feel potentially threatened by people who are different than us. And mind you, there is really not a bit of difference between us and the other colors and styles of people. We are all exactly the same, genetically.

Obviously, there are individual differences. Smarter, dumber, more creative, more athletic, totally clumsy — but nothing that you won’t see in any group of people who all have the same coloring or background. Skin and its variations have no effect on intelligence or ability to understand the meaning of the universe.

You know that, right? Nor does not speaking English. Mr. Nobel was Swedish. He didn’t speak American. Einstein was an immigrant. Sam Adams made beer and fomented revolution … and I’m not sure where he was from. Ireland? Scotland? England? Germany? The whole world? And anyway, we are all from Africa because that’s where humanity began. Check it out.

But wait! Orange Gecko won’t be in charge forever! He’s too old! Unless we’ve also invented the no-aging device, he’s going to bite the big one just like the rest of us.

Get those transporter beams revved up. I’m ready!

Let’s open up the world while I’m can still enjoy it. We will take our elderly tricycles and electric wheelchairs with us. Surely they have sidewalks on Betelgeuse.

Let’s transform our cellular material and go with the flow. You ready? I’m definitely ready!

For today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt of Teleport.