THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD, JUDY COLLINS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Weight



I still see my brother Michael,
pressed and polished, shaking hands down at the store
Everyone had come to see the all-star hop the Greyhound bus and go to war
He punched me in the arm to say goodbye
It was the first time that I saw our father cry

I kept all my brother’s letters tied in ribbon in a box beneath my bed
Every night I read by flashlight with the covers in a tent above my head
His words said “Not to worry, doing fine”
It was his way of trying to ease my mind
While I was trying not to read between the lines

The weight of the world, too heavy to lift
So much to lose, so much to miss
It doesn’t seem fair that an innocent boy
Should have to carry the weight of the world

Then it was football games and homecoming and
picking out our dresses for the prom
With my brother in some desert dodging bullets when he wasn’t dodging bombs

While we went from the land of brave and free
To just being afraid to disagree
While I was being brought down to my knees by

The weight of the world, too heavy to lift
So much to lose, so much to miss
It doesn’t seem fair that an innocent boy
Should have to carry the weight of the world

It was the middle of December when the Army sent my brother home at last
While the flagpole by the football field flew the colors half-way down the mast
The wind blew cold and snow was coming down
Still everybody turned out from our town
As we laid my brother in that frozen ground

The weight of the world, too heavy to lift
So much was lost, so much was missed
It doesn’t seem fair that any boy or any girl
Should have to carry the weight of the world


Songwriters: Amy Speace / J Vezner / Judson Caswell
Weight of the World lyrics © DO Write Music LLC

COSTUMES – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Wednesday – COSTUMES


Photos: Garry Armstrong

I wanted to wear a different pair of earrings today. I’ve had them quite a while, but I’ve never worn them. Not they I don’t love them, because I really do. They are gorgeous. Big, bright, beaded. Which also means they are quite lightweight and comfortable. All good.

Black and silver

But big bead earrings break. They are great for a while, the one day you feel this strange feeling that something is spilling off your head and it’s your gorgeous long bead earring become a million tiny beads. I have a set that I wanted to wear today that are black ravens with turquoise eyes, but one of them has come slightly unraveled and I’m afraid if I wear them, it will come completely apart.

Red and turquoise

So I admire them in the jewelry box and worry about wearing them. Of the most beloved bead earrings, I am wearing the sturdiest pair. These are built on a silver frame with silver beats and tips. I think it’s the silver that protects them because I’ve had versions of these for at least six or seven years. I wear them a lot and none of broken.

I have two pairs of them in black and silver. Identical. I thought I had lost a set, so I bought another — and of course, promptly found the originals. I still periodically misplace jewelry, though less often than I used to. This might be because I travel less, though it turns out most of my misplacement took place at home. I only thought I left them somewhere else.

They always turn up where I’m sure I’ve already looked many times. Have I mentioned “the pixie factor”?

Red and turquoise again

Except for my beautiful green turquoise earrings which seem to have vanished for good and all.

I have bead earring in varying shades of red with silver and dark purple. I have them in red and turquoise. Another pair which looks like red and turquoise, but includes some dark purple beads too. I’m sure the designer and I are the only people who can tell the difference.

I have them in all turquoise, too.

Red earrings – at Manchaug

Every time this designer makes a new pair, I buy them. She only makes one at a time and though the differences are getting subtle, I love them. I’ve now got 6 pairs of them in various color combinations. I wish she’d make a set in a new set of colors. I can but hope.

Costuming for me is dressing “up” which actually means the same clothing I wear, but clean (no dog hair or for that matter, my own hair), solid so the jewelry shows well. Basically, black yoga pants, a black top, and my best Native American jewelry can get me through almost anything except sometimes, a wedding.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Black ones again

No Halloween costume. Sorry!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN: AN INTERVIEW WITH DEATH – Marilyn Armstrong

My fame as An Important Blogger has spread beyond the realm of the living into the nether regions as I went searching for a character to interview. Death popped right up and volunteered. I wasn’t sure he was entirely fictional but eventually decided most people don’t believe he’s real, so he qualifies.

He has been hanging around here far too much lately.

When you meet Death, your first impression is of a quiet, retiring fellow. The kind of guy you’d never even notice. He walks silently, accompanied only by a faint rustling, like fabric gently ruffled by a breeze. You notice his nearness when folks disappear permanently. Like in a bad science fiction movie, characters keep vanishing without a trace.

I suppose it goes with the territory, but I have a few questions for the old buzzard.  Speaking of old,  Death does not look old. His face is unlined. He could be forty. Or two hundred and forty. His voice seemed a murmur, yet I had no trouble hearing every word he spoke. I didn’t know a stage whisper could be so loud.

Let the interview commence!


ME: I know you get everyone, eventually. It seems you’ve been taking away my crowd. Is this a Karmic thing? Have we been particularly wicked?

DEATH: Not really. You’re a hard-living crowd, but not bad in the sense of righteous or not righteous. Everyone gets a limited amount of hard living. A lot of your kinsmen used up their portion early.

ME: So partying causes an early demise?

DEATH: Not partying. Living hard. That includes working hard, worrying, not resting properly. Wears out your spirit, not just your bones. Of course, there is also a DNA component. Some of you are heartier than others. You have bodies — and souls — that can take more abuse. And the opposite. Some people aren’t resilient.

ME: Abuse? What do you mean by “abuse?”

DEATH: Drugs, booze. Insufficient sleep. Stress. Danger. Never taking the time to step back and understand what’s happened to you. It’s all part of the equation.

ME: I don’t suppose you’d let me in on the equation? Like how you calculate life and death?

DEATH: {Looks amused}

ME: Moving right along, is there anything we can do to score a few extra points with you? On the plus side, I mean.

DEATH: I’m tough but fair. Like a good coach.

ME: I never played on a team.

DEATH: Let us not bandy words. You get my drift. They use that line on every cop show on television. I know you watch TV. I’ve come round and sat with you on many an evening.

ME: {I shiver} Maybe too much television.

DEATH: Television is good stuff. Extends your life. I’m such a fan! {Death chuckles and sends a chill down my spine} Unless I’m under special orders, I never take anyone who’s watching a good show or a playoff game. Have I mentioned how much I loved Law & Order? That was a great show. I was upset when it ended. I related to it.

ME: How’s that?

DEATH: Catching bad guys, making judgments. Deciding whether to lock them up forever or hand them to me. Well, I can tell you, we don’t “do” locking up where I come from. I always take’em out of the game.

ME: So there’s no Hell?

DEATH: Did I say that?

ME: Never mind. Why so many good people? Young people? Even little children and babies?

DEATH: I have a degree of discretion, but if the Boss says “that one,” there’s no further discussion. He’s got his agenda. I follow orders. Age, sex, ethnicity, color. Sexual orientation. Don’t care, don’t discriminate. To me — us — you’re all customers.

{This made me uncomfortable. I shifted in my seat. Death noticed, of course. I could see the twinkle in his pale eyes. He was enjoying my discomfort.}

DEATH: We met before. Yes, I remember. You were young the first time. A teenager. But I was told you could choose to stay or go. You stayed. Not many people get to choose. Before you ask, I have no idea why. Just following orders. Then … what, ten, twelve years ago? You were in my court, but someone in the boss’s office told me to push you back to the other side. How did that work out for you?

ME: Obviously it worked. I’m here.

DEATH: I congratulate you. You are one of the few I’ve brushed against twice who’s still on this side.

Death cust serv

At that point, I realized I needed to end the interview. Beads of sweat were breaking out along the back of my neck. I didn’t like the way my interviewee was looking at me. I felt like a bag of potatoes in a supermarket.

ME: Time to wrap this up.

DEATH: {Grinning} You think, probie?

ME: I just wanted to ask you a couple of quick questions about some of your movie roles.

DEATH: “The Seventh Seal (1957)” — Ingmar Bergman’s black & white classic — is by far my favorite. I think I should have gotten a nomination at least. After that — John Huston’s 1969 “A Walk with Love and Death” was pretty good.

ME: Do you have favorite periods in history?

DEATH: You can’t beat the 14th century. I was the King of all I surveyed! I ruled. All good things come to an end, I suppose. Not to worry. My time will come again. From the way you humans are messing around with the Earth, not to mention breeding lethal viruses in labs? I’d say it’ll be my time again soon. That whole fracking thing. Wow, what could go wrong with that, eh?

I also want to mention war. I love war. That humans make war is how I know you love me. Sending off your best and brightest to die in the mud — stabbed, shot, mutilated, mowed down. Blown up. Shattered. It’s a love poem to me.

ME: Well, that’s about all the time we have for today. Let’s get together again real soon.

DEATH: {Evil smile} I think the next time we meet will be the last time.

And he gathered up his black robes and slid from the room, dark as a shadow, soundlessly.

{Fade to black}

ONE GOLDEN AUTUMN EVENING – Marilyn Armstrong

A Golden Autumn Evening


Yellow trees and our gate

It was a sunny day. A beautiful day.  I painted a little piece of my front door that needed retouching because when we replaced the lock and door handle, it didn’t precisely fit where the old one had been.

Then, after that, it got gray for a while. I was sad that we couldn’t have a single sunny day, uninterrupted. I was so sad, the sun felt sorry for me and came back.

Red maple

The road was truly golden

As we headed toward evening, the trees along the driveway turned to gold and our maple turned red and orange. Some of the roses are still blooming. They do look a little bedraggled, but alive.

Red maple, yellow aspen

Dark red maple

SPOOKY SHARING ON HALLOWEEN – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World

“Spooky”  Share Your World


Today is Halloween! Got your costume ready? Stocked up on candy? Good. I’m looking forward to a bag full of candy. Yum.


Name something you wouldn’t want to run into in a dark forest or in an abandoned building.

I wouldn’t BE in a dark forest OR an abandoned building. Especially not in combination.

Share the creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone.

I found a spider in my bed. I screamed, then I dislodged it. I have no rational fear of spiders. I’m just scared to death of them. Mindless paranoia.

What would you like your last words to be?

See you soon!

Do you believe in any ‘mythical’ monsters like chupacabras or shadow people?

No.

How long do you think you would last in a horror movie?

I wouldn’t even be in the audience, much less the movie.

Are you afraid of or find clowns creepy?

I find clowns weird, but not necessarily creepy. But I also don’t find them particularly funny — even when I was a kid.

In the zombie apocalypse, what would be your weapon of choice?

First, I plan to be living in one of the world’s best anti-Zombie apocalypse location on earth.

Other than that, I figure a paint gun with iron filings in the paint. You know, all creatures from the Never world are terrified of iron.

Have you ever had your tarot cards read?

I used to read them. I creeped myself out.

Anyone know the reason behind putting candles in jack-o-lanterns?

I assumed to make them light up in the dark. No?

Do you think putting special emphasis on certain holidays – like Halloween is ‘spooky’ for example — is a good idea or just more mindless entertainment for the masses? 

I like Halloween when I was a kid, but it wasn’t nearly the big deal it has become. The problem in this country is that every holiday eventually becomes another way for malls to draw crowds. People actually sent Halloween cards. Halloween cards? Really?

Share a positive thought or message or something that’s inspired you this week.

The Red Sox did it! Their best team ever took the World Series, their fourth win in 14-years. Yay Sox!

JAMES ‘WHITEY’ BULGER DEAD IN PRISON – Marilyn Armstrong

“WHITEY” BULGER DEAD AT 89

They could have found him sooner had they tried harder.

It took them 16 years to find him. A lot of people knew where he was or knew enough to ask the right questions from the right people and get the correct answer.

If they had wanted to. But he was a dangerous guy with powerful friends. A dangerous guy with a brother who was a powerful figure in Boston’s government too.

Two brothers. So different. One becomes (eventually) the top guy at the University of Massachusetts. A really popular guy, too. Funny, witty, educated. But his brother — Whitey — was a killer. How does that happen? What kind of family dynamics produce the head of a mob and the head of the university?

I think every general assignment reporter in Boston had some inkling of his location, including my husband who never said so because he never talks about “the mob,” not when we were young or now … but I was sure he knew a lot more than he said. The FBI knew because they used him as a source for decades and paid him for it, too.

He was supposedly some kind of a “Robin Hood” in Southie. Maybe for his friends, he was. For everyone else, he was a murderous thug. Eventually, it all broke open and he went to prison and died there today.

Former mob boss and fugitive James “Whitey” Bulger, who was arrested in Santa Monica, California on June 22, 2011 along with his longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig is shown in this 2011 booking photo. In the opening of the murder and racketeering trial on June 12, 2013, prosecutors described Bulger, 83, as the leader of a criminal gang responsible for decades of “murder and mayhem.” Prosecutors say 19 people were killed by Bulger’s hand or at his order. REUTERS/U.S. Marshals Service/U.S. Department of Justice/Handout via Reuters

His brother, who I’m sure always knew how to find him, leaped from his office and floated down on a golden parachute.

The feared leader of the Winter Hill Gang, “Whitey” Bulger was convicted (finally) in 2013 of 11 murders stretching from Boston to Florida and Oklahoma. Bulger had spent 16 years as one of the nation’s most wanted fugitives before he was captured in Santa Monica, California, in 2011.

The could have found him sooner. If they tried harder.

99 New: Rumination

As a Jewish woman married to a Brown man, this really hits home. This whole week has been a bit of a nightmare for me. This is personal. It’s impossible to NOT see this as the start of a new period of nationalism and murder. Remember, folks, the actual name of Nazi was the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. Nazi is only how it came to be known, but Nationalist was always front and center. Guess who says he’s a “nationalist?” You got it on the first try!

Red's Wrap

Anti-Semitism isn’t just the stuff of white nationalist Neanderthals. Some of your best friends have anti-Semitic reflexes.

Oh, your friends would never admit to this. They’re too intelligent, too socially conscious. They wouldn’t be caught dead showing bigoted or anti-Semitic attitudes and they’d take great offense to the suggestion that they are unconsciously anti-Semitic. But some things a person can’t control and one of them is the reflex of anti-Semitism learned when they were children.

Who killed Jesus?

It starts there. Every kid in Sunday School learns that ‘the Jews killed Jesus.’ Later, when they grow up, they sometimes sort out who did what with Jesus; grown-up minds can deal with complexity if so inclined. If not so inclined, the original notion that the Jews were to blame for the agony of Christ’s suffering on the cross gets embedded in people’s psyches. Hence, the reflex business. And the Inquisition.

Added…

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AS THE WORLD TURNS, SO THE CLIMATE CHANGES – Marilyn Armstrong

End of October

I was just reading a post on “NewEnglandGardenAndThread” about how in several years, New England’s climate will change from 5 to a 7 or 8.

Here’s a quote and a map:


(The speaker said that) … in her ‘lifetime’ (she was 50), New Hampshire would go from growing zone 5 to a 7 or 8.

Think about that for just a minute.

If we go to a 7 or 8 growing zone, the ski industry will be a thing of the past, the sugar maples will die from heat and pollution, and the maple syrup industry will be over in this country. If New England increases two growing zones, what does that mean for Florida and all of its fruit growers, as well as the rest of the country? It really is mind-boggling.


I keep trying to explain this to people and they refuse to believe it. They say things like “not all scientists agree on this.”

Except, yes, really, scientists all agree on this. All of them. They may not be sure how long the change will take and where it will happen first, second, third, but that it will happen? 100% agreement that the climate is changing fast and people who are already well into middle age will live to see the results.

Many people apparently believe “climate change” is something that happens all of a sudden. Like in exactly 12 years, the world’s “life” switch turns off and that’s it. Game over.

But this isn’t sports and there are no innings or overtime. Folks don’t realize change is a varied process. Changes will happen incrementally at different rates in different places.

Many people really don’t want to know, so they refuse to hear it. It doesn’t matter if you are a saint or the worst sinner on Earth, there’s no “get out of jail free” card on this. And the stuff that the current administration is doing to the environment is absolutely going to make it happen faster and uglier. It is terrifying and frustrating to try to make the determined non-believers recognize that yes, really, this is scientific fact and anyone who believes in science agrees.

The disbelievers are not scientists. They are misinformed bloggers or people who have degrees in other areas, but not climate.

Climate change is not a lie. It isn’t fake. It will ruin your world even if you don’t believe it. What can you do? Vote people into office who will make the effort to protect us. Those currently in power believe they can treat the world however they want and there are no consequences. But there are already significant consequences if you choose to look.

All I hope for is a change in administration so whoever is in charge understands what needs to be done will be in charge and take us off this edge of the world in which we are standing. I’m not good with edges and ledges.

UNDAUNTED ANGELIQUE – Marilyn Armstrong

“Nounou,” inquired Angelique, “Why did Giles de Retz kill so many children?”

With these words, one of the world’s greatest series of historical fiction begins. It is a translation from French. I have been told that much was lost in a not-very-good translation. But I don’t read well enough in French. Once, I did, but that was a very long time ago.

angelique book cover

Nothing will change the way I feel about these books. Most were written long years ago. I read the first of them when I was 13. I still have the book, though the binding is broken and the pages are beginning to turn to dust.

The first book was published in 1957 and I read it in 1960. In those days, I lived in books. I didn’t have friends. I was too different. I’ve always been out of step. Sometimes, a lot, occasionally almost catching up with my peers. But back then … I was weird.

Then I met Angelique.


The fifth child of an impoverished country nobleman, Angélique de Sancé grows up in the Poitou marshlands, a region known as the “Green Venice”, halfway between the ocean and the forests. She is a free child, as one with the forest and the marshes, discovering nature’s healing secrets with the help of the witch Mélusine. Her logical destiny would be to marry a poor country nobleman, have children and spend her life fighting for a meager subsistence.

Destiny has other plans in store for her. At 17, when she returns from the convent where she has been getting an education, she finds herself betrothed to the wealthy count of Toulouse, Joffrey de Peyrac. He is 12 years her senior, lame, scarred and rumored to be a wizard.

from the review by Harvey Adkins


Angélique’s life and adventures inspired me and gave me courage.

angelique pages book

Thus the story begins. In subsequent volumes, they will take you through most of the world of Louis XIV. Joffrey becomes the love of Angélique’s life. After he is burned at the stake for heresy (and for being too politically powerful), Angélique finds herself homeless, penniless, with babies to protect in the underworld of Paris. Yet she rises up from the gutters back to the glittering court of Louis XIV. Confronts him on the murder of her husband, rebels against him, leads a group of Huguenots to the New World. Builds a colony, fights emissaries of the church and King to retain her freedom. Along the way, she has children — from a variety of fathers, including one resulting from rape — and one is murdered.

With all the power of Crown and Church arrayed against her, Angélique finds a way through and emerges victorious. Bowed, but never beaten. Her defeats are temporary setbacks, her triumphs change the world.

She is deathlessly beautiful. If you are a woman taking on the world, it’s never bad to have golden hair and hypnotic green eyes. But Angélique doesn’t win the day using sex. When she leads, she carries a gun and a sword. She will kill in defense of her own (and does). She will fight for her family, her home, her beliefs.

She became much more than a fictional character to me. At a time when female role models were few and far between, Angélique was fearless. Unstoppable. No simpering lady of fashion, she was tough. Smart. She suffered the worst life could dish out. She faced down unspeakable challenges. And there were casualties.

Back in the real world, author Anne Golan was fighting her publisher for the rights to her books.

Anne Golon was born 17 December 1921 as Simone Changeux in Toulon, France. She published her first novel at 18 as Joëlle Danterne. During World War II, she traveled by bicycle through France and Spain writing under various pen-names. She helped create France Magazine. Was sent to Africa as a journalist, where she met Vsevolod Sergeïvich Goloubinoff, her husband, Serge Golon.

angelique french editionThey collaborated on Angélique. Anne wrote. Serge did the considerable research required by these surprisingly accurate books. The first book in the series was an astounding success. The books were credited to Serge and Anne Golon, (Sergeanne Golon), the names having been merged by publishers who were reluctant to print books written by women.

In 1972, Anne and Serge Golon went to Canada to continue research. Anne wrote Angélique and the Ghosts. Serge died.

Anne continued writing and raising her 4 children. Between 1972 and 1985, she wrote four more books. While battling Hachette for unpaid royalties and rights, Anne Golon lived in extreme poverty. She finally won, leaving her sole owner of the works.

These are the books which were translated into English:

Angélique, The Marquise of the Angels
Angélique: The Road to Versailles (US and the UK with the 1st volume, Angélique)
Angélique and the King
Angélique and the Sultan (aka, Angélique in Barbary)
Angélique in Revolt
Angélique in Love
The Countess Angélique
The Temptation of Angélique (In Canada as: The Temptation of Angélique 1: The Jesuit Trap, The Temptation of Angélique 2: The Downfall of Goldbeard)
Angélique and the Demon
Angélique and the Ghosts.

The English translation of this series stopped abruptly with Angélique and the Ghosts. Anne Golon’s fans — like their fictional heroine — wanted to know what had happened to the author. We found her, in Paris, alive, well, and still writing. We learned — as of August, 2009 — there were three yet-untranslated books already in the series:

Angélique à Quebec
Angélique: Route de L’Espoir
Victoire d’Angélique

Ms. Golon also announced 2 more books: Royaume de France, (“Kingdom of France”) to follow Victoire, and a 15th and final volume, yet untitled. None of these has been translated. English-language readers — like me — have waited more than 35 years. An entire lifetime during which I have gone from adolescent to a senior citizen.

Anne-Golon

I’ve read thousands of books during these long years, but never lost hope for translations of the new Angélique book. Anne Golon is well into her 90s, but like Angélique herself, nothing short of Death himself can stop this remarkable woman.

The Angélique fan group to which I belonged fell apart some years back. There were deaths. Surviving members squabbled. You can still find information at Angélique Books.

It’s not easy to find intact copies of the books, but if you are interested, don’t give up. Amazon has some. ABE Books often has copies. And there’s eBay.

Maybe there will be new copies eventually. I hope to see them republished. Soon would be good, because none of us are getting any younger.


July 2017: I just read that Anne Golon passed away on Friday at the age of 95. She was writing until the end. She inspired me as a girl and instilled the belief I could do anything a man could do. She was a wind behind my back for a lifetime. If you read French, there is an article in Figaro here.

FESTIVAL OF LEAVES & FLOWER OF THE DAY: A WALK BY THE CANAL – Marilyn Armstrong

Week # 6: Walk By The Canal

FOTD – October 30, 2018


It should have been spectacular color, but it was mostly still green with some yellow. Still, it was definitely pretty, especially when the amber light hits it in late afternoon.

All the yellow leaves

Picnic by the canal

Still, it was a crisp fall day. If the leaves were not scarlet, they were yellow, glowing in the amber sunlight, with the canal as shiny as a mirror.

Just a couple, walking along the trail on their way to River Bend Park.

THE ” WAR OF THE WORLDS ” MYTH – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I went to a presentation celebrating the 80th anniversary of Orson Welles’ 1938 radio broadcast of H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds”. The reason this particular broadcast has lived on in history and is still remembered and talked about today is really quite interesting.

Orson Welles broadcasting “The War of the Worlds”

The radio play starts with a typical program playing music from a live band. This fictional program is then interrupted by a realistic sounding “newscaster” reporting an increasingly destructive invasion by Martians. The Martians wipe out New Jersey and proceed to annihilate Manhattan. They are reported to be landing all over the east coast of the United States. The U.S. army is reported to be vanquished and the audience is told that we have no defenses left.

Rehearsal of War of the Worlds

Newspapers the next day, including the New York Times, headlined a nationwide panic that made this incident the most notorious event in broadcast history. The unprecedented mass hysteria was talked about in newspapers, books, articles and radio and TV shows for the past 80 years.

The day after the broadcast

There were reports of thousands of panicked calls to police and radio stations across the country. There were stories of traffic accidents, near riots and hordes of panicked people in the streets and on the roads, fleeing the Martian invasion. There were even reports of suicides and deaths due to the hysteria caused by the broadcast. It was claimed that the stories continued in the newspapers for two weeks, with over 12,500 articles about the panic.

The day after the broadcast

Today, however, this version of history has now been debunked and fallen out of favor. The current belief is that whatever panic occurred, it was small and not widespread. Most listeners understood this was a dramatization. While some may have been scared by the story, few panicked. Evidence shows that at the time of the event, newspaper reports of the story actually stopped after a day or two, not weeks. The story was not the long-lasting, national headline grabber we believed it to be.

In addition, far fewer people heard the original broadcast than most people believed. This fact makes the magnitude of the reported panic much more implausible. A rating service the night of the broadcast reported only 2% of listeners were even tuned in to The “War of the Worlds.” This was true, in part because Welles was scheduled opposite one of the most popular shows on the air – Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.

In addition, several important CBS affiliates, including in Boston, didn’t even air Welles’ show. Instead, they aired local commercial programming, which further reduced Welles’ national audience.

History does show, however, that the story grew in magnitude and in detail as time went on. So the 1940 claim that one million people heard the broadcast is grossly exaggerated.

Just as the size of Welles’ audience has been inflated, so have the reports of mass hysteria. There is no documentation of any deaths or even hospital visits, as claimed, due to the shock of the broadcast. In reality, there were almost no contemporaneous news accounts of mobs in the streets or highways jammed with fleeing people. In fact, people later reported walking through the streets of major cities at the time of the broadcast and finding them as empty as usual at that time of night.

There is another piece of evidence used to counter the mass panic scenario. If the terror and chaos had been as bad and as widespread as reported, CBS and Welles would have been severely reprimanded or even punished. But no sanctions were levied and no official rulings or regulations were promulgated by the FCC.

Welles facing the press the day after the broadcast

So why was the mass panic story started and why did it survive for so long?

One credible theory is that newspapers were to blame for the origins of the story. Radio was still a relatively new medium in 1938 – only 18 years old. But already radio was taking advertising dollars and audiences away from the newspaper industry. So the newspapers seized upon this opportunity to trash the radio as an unreliable source of news. A newspaper trade journal at the time wrote: “The nation as a whole continues to face the danger of incomplete, misunderstood news over a medium which had yet to prove …that it is competent to perform the news job.”

You can’t trust the radio! Fake news!

People are now debating why this myth has persisted for so long. One answer is a man named Hadley Cantril. He wrote a scholarly book in 1940 that gave academic credence to the panic. He used numbers and statistics that made his story seem plausible, but which have subsequently come into question.

He had no hard facts to back up any of his assertions. And he is the only legitimate academic source that claims there was a sizeable panic. Yet his writing has kept this version of the story in textbooks, as it still is today.

There is a more philosophical explanation of the persistence of the mass hysteria myth. In 2000, Northwestern’s Jeffrey Sconce wrote an article called, “Haunted Media”. In it, he suggests that the “War of the Worlds” myth captures our unease with mass media and the internet’s power over us. We all fear, on some level, the media and the internet “…invading and colonizing our consciousness.” The myth is “…a cautionary tale about the power of the media.”

Jeffrey Sconce

Radio opened up a new means of mass communication and shared experiences. Now the internet is doing the same thing. Sconce states that “…today the internet provides us with both the promise of a dynamic communicative future and dystopian fears of a new form of mind control; lost privacy; and attacks from scary, mysterious forces.”

This is particularly true with today’s epidemic of fake news, foreign intervention, and manipulation of the internet and domestic political dirty tricks. We deal with political misinformation being spread to millions of people every day. A national panic may not have occurred because of a radio broadcast in 1938, but it is more likely to occur today because of the abuse of the internet.

DINGY – NOT ALWAYS WHAT YOU EXPECT – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Dingy


I thought I knew this word. It could be a little boat, often a little boat that lives on a bigger boat and is used to back and forth from the shoreline. It can also mean a little bit drab, or perhaps not entirely clean. It also can mean a sort of grubby off-blond hair color … or a faded hair color.

What I did not know is that it’s also a photographic term, meaning grainy and maybe a bit dark. Not shiny, maybe a bit fuzzy.

It is in the same category as grunge or grungy  — which is sort of like a softened version of HDR, but grainier and not as sharp. Also, things that are described as “chalky” frequently are also dingy.

It isn’t the same as “softened” because soft means taking the edge off the picture. Used a lot in photographs, especially of older people who don’t want to see every wrinkle and skin discoloration.

So these two are both dingy pictures. They look a bit antique and the light is subtly striated. Who knew, right? Yet another definition for a term you won’t find in the dictionary.

Q & A – AS LONG AS THE COPS AREN’T ASKING – Marilyn Armstrong

I Love Questions Unless the Cops Are Asking Them

The latest is Melanie over at Sparks From a Combustible Mind, who was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Congratulations Melanie.

She then wrote, “Anyone who wishes to answer some or all of the questions here, you’re more than welcome!!” And since I am “anyone,” here are Melanie’s questions and my answers.

Note: I’m ALSO anyone! So there!


1. Which season fits your personality best — spring, summer, fall, or winter — and why?

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Fall, usually. This year hasn’t been great but still, definitely my favorite season.

2. If you were to choose a well-known axiom or slogan for your life, what would it be?

The truth is easier to remember than a lie.

3. If you were a color, which would you be and why?

I get hung up on this. Do you mean a color I would wear? or just BE? What color is my aura?

I have no idea if I have an aura, much less its color. I don’t honestly think I can answer this because I like a lot of colors, depending on what they are being used for. Many colors I love, I won’t wear. For sheer color, I think turquoise. That clear bright blue you find mostly from Arizona mines.

4. What’s a skill you learned when you were young that you still use today?

Touch typing. I think it is the only genuinely useful skill I learned in school!

5. What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given?

“If they ask you to make an instant decision, say NO.” I wish I’d stuck to it more.

6. If you had your own talk show, who would your first three guests be?

Doris Kearns Goodwin, Stephen Colbert,  and Connie Willis. And if I get a fourth, Jim Butcher.

7. If you had one extra hour of free time a day, how would you use it?

Listening. I’m an audiobook junkie.

8. What was the most embarrassing thing you have ever done while on a date?

While trying to cut up the steak, it slid off the plate and onto my white silk blouse. I never wore white silk for any event where eating was involved. And I never ordered a steak with bones.

9. If you were the eighth dwarf, what would your name be?

Sneezy Too. I sneeze a LOT. I can sneeze an entire evening away.

10. Where is the last place you’d be caught dead? Aside from the cemetery, of course!

Mountain climbing.

99 New: Now – REBLOG – Jan Wilburg

I could not have said it better.

Red's Wrap

I have only this to say tonight – after a day of news about people murdered while praying.

Start where you are
Use what you have

Do what you can
–Arthur Ashe

Don’t wait to be asked. Find out where people are needed and go there. Send money to people running for office who believe in equal rights, justice, fairness, and inclusion. Sign up to knock on doors or make phone calls. Go to the march. Make a sign. Hold the sign over your head so people passing in cars will see it.

Do not be afraid. The people who were killed today can’t march, they can’t vote.

We will have to do it for them.

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AUTUMN WHILE IT RAINS – Garry and Marilyn Armstrong

FOTD – October 28, 2018 – October’s End


The giant storm didn’t really hit us. Apparently, it took a bigger whack at Boston and north, but here, it was just rain and a little wind. Nothing fell over. Power stayed on.

The dogs hated it, but otherwise, it went well. The grocery store made a fair bit of money. Locals cleaned the place out, just in case. Around here, they hear words like “nor’easter” and everyone’s mind says, “buried to my lips in snow and ice.”

Even though no snow was predicted, you just can’t be too careful.

A river full of water lilies – Photo: Marilyn Armstrong

Two Maple leaves – Photo: Marilyn Armstrong

Berries at Manchaug – Photo: Marilyn Armstrong

Reflection – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Shiny river – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Westward into the woods – Photo: Garry Armstrong