THE TENACIOUS WEEKEND – Marilyn Armstrong

 Holding Fast – Tenacious 
Weekend

Weekends used to speed faster than the mosquito you’re trying to smack. When I was working, there were a few things you knew about them.

1 – You weren’t going to get half the things done you had planned because there weren’t enough hours to fit them into one weekend;
2 – You knew how much you hated your job by how whether you hated it on Friday night or didn’t hate it until Sunday;
3 – Why didn’t people make weekdays an hour and a quarter longer so you could have a three-day weekend?

A three-day weekend was enough time to sleep for one day, do stuff that needed doing on another, and have some fun on the third. That one extra day of not-working was a big deal.

Spring

April canal and river

Towards the end of my working years, much of it was spent working electronically from home, so the pressure to somehow get “everything” done on the weekend was greatly reduced and of course now, retired, I find weekends annoying because offices are closed and I can’t deal with “stuff.” I have to remember to do them on Monday — or Tuesday in case I forget on Monday.

Retirement, after a few years during which you keep time like you used to, starts to be all of a piece. Every day is like every other day. The only reason I have an inkling of which day of the week is passing is that I schedule posts in advance. Also, when I’m planning out bill payments, I need the calendar. And, I need to remember the beginning of the month because that’s when I give the dogs their heartworm medicine.

I check the calendar to see when we have doctors appointments.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – July

August

All of this makes me think about time, calendars, weekdays, weekends. Other than appointments that occur on a specified schedule, do the weekends matter? Are they relevant? Do I care whether it is the ninth of the months or the eleventh? Other than calculating the arrival of our Social Security checks, how does calendar time affect my reality?

Effectively, time barely matters. The seasons’ matter, but I have a better sense of the seasons from being outside and feeling the weather than via the calendar. Summer is longer, winter is long and the in-between seasons — the good time — are much shorter.

September

October

Time slows in winter and the weeks go slowly when you can’t go out much. Winter lasts a long time in New England, especially when the snow begins early and the cold of winter lasts until late.  Birthdays become increasingly less critical as you get older. Not only less critical but sometimes rather unpleasant.

I don’t want to turn 72 in March. I’m pretty sure Garry doesn’t want to become 77 in April and I’m equally sure my son doesn’t yearn to be 50 in May.

First blizzard – January

Meanwhile, today is Sunday. I don’t remember what I did yesterday. I literally don’t remember anything. It came, it went. The weather is cool this weekend, but it will warm up later in the week — and there’s a possible hurricane wandering around the south Atlantic which might have something to do with us, but we aren’t sure.

March

I know it’s the weekend because Colbert and Trevor aren’t on, but football has come again. The Red Sox lost yesterday at home against the Astros. Not good.

So basically, Sunday is a day. On Monday, it will rain.

COMPREHENSIVELY NOT FEELING WELL – Marilyn Armstrong

I woke up this morning to an angina attack. This is just one of those things. It hurts like a full-on heart attack, but you take medicine and three minutes later it goes away, leaving you feeling like you got run over by a truck.

What causes it? Excessive tiredness is one thing and I’ve been really tired lately. But also — and very specifically — aspirin and any other NSAID.

In this highly pollen-laden weather, I’ve had a headache that won’t quit. Pretty much the only thing that works is Excedrin and sometimes, coffee.

I’m not supposed to take anything with aspirin in it and definitely not Excedrin. Although I’m usually diligent about medication, a really bad headache is one of those things I can’t ignore. And sinus/hay fever headaches are ugly and long-lasting.

Hence, Excedrin.

And this morning, I paid the price.

Point taken.

I can sneak in a couple of Excedrin once in a while, but I can’t take it daily and I certainly can’t take it more than once a day.

Speaking of allergies, I know that allergies are not illnesses. I get that. Just because you feel like hell, you aren’t officially “sick.” But allergies are worse than (for example) a cold. You get a cold, it hangs around a few days then goes away. You get into allergy season and you are comprehensively miserable in every possible way until the pollen finally leaves for the winter … and you know you’re going to go through it again come spring. Different pollen, but around here, the pollen is so heavy it looks like green snow is falling.

The dogs sneeze too. Red eyes all around. We are all miserable and I’m maxed out on allergy pills.

So I didn’t write anything this morning. Garry brought me some coffee and a muffin. Then, I went back to sleep for a few hours. Now, I’m feeling nearly human, but there’s a headache, back for round who-knows-what. Only this time, I can’t take anything.

In all of the years of headaches, the only medication that has ever actually worked is Excedrin or one of its generic clones.

Ironic isn’t it? I have a dozen prescriptions — and not one of them will make that pollen-generated headache go away.

FOWC with Fandango — Comprehensive

VOTING BLUE IN THE BLUEST STATE – Marilyn Armstrong

I’m sure California could make its own case as “the bluest state” but I think Massachusetts has a real grip on the whole “blue” thing.

We had our primaries last Tuesday. Since a lot of Democrats run unopposed, getting elected in the primaries is pretty much getting elected. The Republicans run national candidates, but locally, they often don’t bother.

Especially because our Democrats aren’t always particularly liberal. Some of them are clearly old-fashioned conservatives, but because they live in this state, they are registered as Democrats. I’ll bet this works the same way in traditionally Republican states.

Why fight with color? You are what you are, no matter what your banner might say.

Finally, this year we’ve been seeing some young or at least younger local people running. And winning. For many local offices, we had some young people — late thirties, early forties campaigners — running for office.

Finally! Some of the candidates, we just didn’t know enough about to make a judgment, but in the race for Secretary of State, there was a clear choice between Bill Galvin who has been holding that office since before I moved to the state in 1987.

Ayana Pressley, the new house of representatives winner beating long-term Representative Micheal Capuano

Galvin is, was, will always be, an old-fashioned conservative. Anywhere else, he’d be a Republican. In Massachusetts, it’s simpler to hold to your personal opinions but run as a Democrat or Independent.

He handles a lot of money issues and has done a good job of keeping our tax money in the treasury. Basically, he has done this by letting everything fall apart. The roads are giant potholes. You could lose a tank in some of those holes. The bridges are crumbling, too and around here, where we are completely surrounded by rivers, it’s getting a bit perilous to drive anywhere.

I think we will hear more from Josh Zakim. Especially after one more year of crumbling infrastructure.

Galvin (left) and Josh Zakim (right)

We have a billion dollar positive balance in our bank, but the infrastructure explains why that is. The trains are an ongoing disaster. Every year, they appoint a new transportation secretary and fire him or her in the spring, which is right after winter when those old, damaged rails stop functioning. We lack most of the safety features newer trains use.

It would help if they actually appointed someone who knew something about trains — but the real problem is that Massachusetts doesn’t want to spend the money to fix the railroads on which so many people depend. Daily. We have an underground and a lot of other, surface trains that are “supposed” to be fast, but barely gasp their way into the station. Places like Uxbridge don’t even have trains anymore.

We thought the young guy, Josh Zakim (34 years old) had a chance, but Galvin took him down two to one in the primary. Garry and I hoped for someone not quite so stodgy and old. You can’t win them all.

We did get a few young ones and a couple for whom I hold high hope. We got our very first Black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representative from Massachusetts, Ayana Pressley.

It’s the same seat Tip O’Neill and Teddy Kennedy held, so she certainly has an honorable place to start her fight. The guy she defeated, U.S. Congressman Michael E. Capuano had held the seat for ten years — was warmly gracious about her win and his loss.

Imagine that! Graciousness in politics! Who could have imagined such a shocking event in 2018?

Ayana Pressley is running unopposed in November, so she is set to become the first African-American woman elected to Congress from this Commonwealth. Many people compare Ayana Pressley’s win to that of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, winner in New York (age 28)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a 28-year-old an educator and political activist who, on June 26, 2018, won the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th congressional district — considered a significant upset and I wish her all the best.

Even though Massachusetts is the “bluest” state in the country, our “blues” range from highly conservative (in the old-fashioned sense of the word) to very far left and straight-out socialist. I’ve lived under Socialism and rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, it’s a pretty decent system. It has flaws too, but overall, it works. Rather better than our government is working, but that wouldn’t be difficult.

Charlie Baker, our guv, is the most left-wing Republican on the map. Massachusetts’ always elects liberal Republican governors. It’s a thing. Maybe some kind of balance?

Our senate and house are Democrats, but the governor is usually a Republican. After a brief flurry of Conservative speeches when he takes office, he quickly realized that he isn’t going to accomplish anything unless he works with all those Democrats in Congress. So, he buckles down and does what they all do. Governors work with the House to try and get something accomplished.

Remarkably, what gets done is rarely what everyone was hoping for — like rebuilding the damned bridges before they fall into the rivers. And making the trains run, even when it snows. And preventing them from derailing and crashing.

I miss Tip O’Neill and Ted Kennedy. I miss the savvy guys who knew how to write legislation, then reach across the aisle and turn it into functional policy that helped people. Nationally, our legislators are stuck like a fly to flypaper. Lots of buzzing followed by death.

I have no idea how all the other primaries have gone. Primaries from states not part of New England are not covered by the news here, so I’m just hoping that at least in a few places, younger, more open people are running for office.

There was a comedienne on Colbert last night who commented that our government is quite simply too old. The reason why Drumpf thinks coal mining is a cool idea is that he’s old. Really old. No one younger than 70 would think for a minute coal mining is “the way to go” and how we’ll find “new jobs.”

That isn’t a new job. It’s a terrible, awful, poorly paid, dead-end job no one but a few people who grew up in the mines thinks is a good idea. Yeah. Let’s save 200 jobs and trash a few million. Way to go, U.S.A.

I love some of our older senators and representatives. There are some smart, savvy guys and gals there. But we need some new life too. We need them to stop sleeping at their desks and find ideas for the next 100 or so years.

BOND REBOOT

Casting is now taking place for Bond 25 (working title) and Daniel Craig will return as “007.” The movie is set for a Fall 2019 release, so there will be plenty of talk for the next year about the next film and the next Bond, if Craig does not return.  In his work preparing for Bond, Craig recently visit CIA headquarters. According to the Guardian: “The agency said its motivation was ‘to combat misrepresentations and assist in balanced and accurate portrayals’ of the intelligence community.”

The Daniel Craig Years, by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

After 20 James Bond films and 40 years, EON Productions finally had something that eluded them from the start.  They obtained the rights to the first Ian Fleming novel, 1953’s Casino Royale.  The story had been adapted into a 1954 American television drama and a 1967 comedy spoof, but had never been given a serious big screen treatment.  The chance was at hand when Pierce Brosnan declined the opportunity to go on as 007.

Daniel Craig is James Bond

The change to a new Bond also meant another change in attitude at the studio now run by Barbara Broccoli, the daughter of original Producer, Albert R. Broccoli, and by his stepson, Michael Wilson.  Other studios had given their heroes a new start to great success, so why not Bond?  Comic book characters had moved away from cartoon portrayals to serious action heroes.  It was time to move Bond away from the comic quips and amazing gadgets.  With an eye towards a more faithful portrayal of the book than any of the previous Bond movies had done, Casino Royale starring Daniel Craig took the story back to the beginning as secret agent Bond becomes 007.

Interestingly, the series did retain one cast member.  Judi Dench returned as the head of MI6 and the boss of James Bond.  She sends him on his first mission to Casino Royale.  Only Timothy Dalton gave us such a serious Bond, but Craig shows less emotion than any previous version of our favorite spy.  He is serious and calculating in his efforts to defeat the bad guys and serve his country.  If you were a fan of the novels and a more serious Bond, the “reboot” might be much to your liking.

In Casino Royale, Bond must defeat the terrorist financier Le Chiffre at the Casino.  Taking away the bad guy’s money is a dangerous plan for both players.  There will be no spoiler alerts, but Bond will not escape with a few double meaning quips and hidden gadgets.  This will be a painful ordeal.

Not everything is resolved at the end of the movie which allows for something the series has not tried before, a story arc.  Elements are carried into Quantum of Solace as Bond seeks revenge for a murder and tries to learn about the organization, Quantum.  It is a more serious and more violent film than any Bond movie we have had so far.  An interesting side note is that Craig and director Marc Forster wrote sections of the script due to a screenwriter’s strike.  They did not receive screen credit. The role of Judi Dench is expanded this time out.  It make sense to make greater use of an actor of this stature.

The third Daniel Craig movie, Skyfall, may be the best so far.  It honors the Bond canon by bringing back some favorite characters in the person of new actors while making reference to times past.  This time out the story centers around  M (Judi Dench) and the challenges to MI6 from outside and in.  The only agent she can really trust to hunt down the threat is, of course Bond, James Bond.  Already in her late 70s at the time, Dench is featured in the trap that Bond lays for the bad guys and the action sequences that follow.  Javier Bardem is the evil trouble maker who is out to destroy the spy agency and get M.  The action is intense.

Skyfall picked up a collection of nominations and awards.  Adele sang the title song which you could not escape on the radio for a long time.  It won the Oscar.  Miss Moneypenny returns to the franchise.  If you have not seen it, I will leave the surprising revelation for you.  The Quartermaster (Q) returns and he is not the old-timer we were used to seeing in Desmond Llewelyn and John Cleese.  Of course, Llewelyn was a lot younger when he first appeared in a 1963 Bond film.  British stage and film star Ben Whishaw is the younger Q, much to the surprise of Bond.  He is more of a computer geek than a developer of gadgets, although he does have something for Bond.  He is the perfect 21st century Q and a clever return for the character.

Ralph Fiennes is on hand as Mallory, M’s boss, and will play a continuing role into the next feature.  Veteran Albert Finney is also on hand to support Bond in the late action sequences.  All things considered, I liked the casting, the return of certain characters and even bringing back the Aston Martin.  It is clever script writing by people familiar with the Bond legacy. It is directed by  Sam Mendes, who returns for the 4th Craig film.

If you saw the early Bond films or read the books, you knew that James Bond was often on the trail of members of the criminal organization, SPECTRE.  So it should be no surprise that the Bond reboot will find our hero on the search for information about the organization and its leader.  We find another name from the past as the leader of SPECTRE, Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

SPECTRE contains all the right elements: M, Q, Moneypenny, evil villains and beautiful “Bond Girls.”  The storyline incorporates elements from early Bond stories by Ian Fleming.  It will be interesting to see where they go from here.  Will the next storyline continue to look for elements from Fleming novels and bring them up to date?

It is impossible to compare the Craig portrayal of Bond with the previous actors.  The series “reboot” has given us a Bond for the 21st century, different from what we had before.  I think it was the only way to go.  The Connery, Lazenby, Moore and Brosnan portrayals are charming, yet dated.  Like Bond, Craig will be back.

Just for fun, even the Queen is willing to appear in a James Bond film.  You will have to click the link over to You Tube to watch, as they have now blocked it from playing on other sites.

Sources Include: “Daniel Craig visits CIA in run-up to shooting new James Bond film,” TheGuardian.com, July, 6, 2018.

RELATED:
Bond, James Bond, The Sean Connery Years, Part 1
Never Say Never Again, The Sean Connery Years, Part 2
Moore Bond, The Roger Moore Years, Part 1
For Your Eyes Only, The Roger More Years, Part 2
Bond Is Back, The Timothy Dalton Years
Goldeneye, The Pierce Brosnan Years

VERY PINK IN SEPTEMBER – Marilyn Armstrong

VERY PINK IN SEPTEMBER


Although we are approaching the middle of September, nobody told the roses. The pink ones, which weren’t doing well earlier in the summer are blossoming like mad right now. They should be fading away as fall approaches but as far as I can tell, fall is not approaching. Fall isn’t even on the highway yet. It has not found the main road and is wandering in the distance.

Presumably, it will arrive. It is my favorite season for so many reasons and I hate when these long, hot summers turn our two months of glorious Autumn into one short week and then, boom, whack, winter is back.

Pink roses in the garden