WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Onerous

I have a cold. Not a lethal cold or one that will make me wonder why we got flu shots. No, it’s a regular winter cold with the usual drippy nose, hoarse voice, and sore throat. I was supposed to go to the cardiologist today, but when one is getting his or her heart checked, it’s best to not have anything else wrong with you or your readings come out strange.

Garry’s got “it” too. So does my son. The dogs, however, are fine.

Red-capped woodpecker, warbler, and a nuthatch

The doctor — the actual doctor himself — called to tell me to get some sleep, stay hydrated (whatever happened to “drink plenty of liquids”) and later, call for a new appointment. When I felt better. Which was not today.

I had just gotten back into bed (after the dogs barked me out of it). I had fed them two or three small treats, turned on the coffee, and tucked myself back under the covers.

The phone rang. It was the doctor’s office. I said I was trying to sleep, but between the barking dogs and the phone ringing, it was starting to seem pointless.

She said to call back when I felt better and I drifted off to sleep.

Bonnie barks me awake every morning. With or without assistance from the other two.

Duke doesn’t usually bark. He flings himself at the door and tries to knock it down. Once, he knocked the knob and latch out of alignment and was on the bed in a blink.

I don’t need to give him the incentive to do it again. It’s not a strong door. I don’t think it would survive another pounding. Duke’s no giant, but he’s got vim and vigor going for him. His enthusiasm knows no bounds. None. What he lacks in weight, he makes up for in pure energy.

In between interruptions, “We Didn’t Start the Fire” kept rolling through my head. like one of those earworms you usually get from commercials or Disney cartoons. It started and wouldn’t stop. It still hasn’t stopped.

I gave in and got up. By now, my back was hurting enough to get me out of bed regardless. Excessive bed rest makes everything more painful. If I was ever forced to stay in bed for a prolonged period, it would probably kill me.

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio
Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe
Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, “The King and I” and “The Catcher in the Rye”
Eisenhower, vaccine, England’s got a new queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye


We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc

Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Dacron
Dien Bien Phu falls, “Rock Around the Clock”
Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn’s got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland
Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Krushchev
Princess Grace, “Peyton Place”, trouble in the Suez

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it


Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac
Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, “Bridge on the River Kwai”

Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball
Starkweather, homicide, children of thalidomide
Buddy Holly, “Ben Hur”, space monkey, Mafia
Hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go
U2, Syngman Rhee, payola and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, “Psycho”, Belgians in the Congo

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it


Hemingway, Eichmann, “Stranger in a Strange Land”
Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion

“Lawrence of Arabia”, British Beatlemania
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson
Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex
JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it


Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline
Ayatollah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

“Wheel of Fortune”, Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide
Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, crack, Bernie Goetz
Hypodermics on the shores, China’s under martial law
Rock and roller cola wars, I can’t take it anymore

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
But when we are gone
Will it still burn on, and on, and on, and on


We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it


We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it …


Songwriters: Billy Joel

We Didn’t Start the Fire lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group


The world is an onerous place. The business of surviving it gets worse almost by the minute. I didn’t think it could get worse. I thought we had bottomed out. Apparently, there is no bottom. Maybe there never was and we all lived in a happy fantasy, each in our own personal parallel reality.

It’s a sunny day and the birds are out. I think I’ll take some pictures.

PROVOCATIVE QUESTION 10: THE CHOICES WE MAKE – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #10

This week’s provocative question is about the choices we make and the actions we take.


“What is more important to you, doing the right thing or doing things right?”

To me, these are unrelated questions.

Doing things right is a work kind of question. Doing the right thing is a moral choice. One course of action doesn’t replace the other.

You can do both or neither, depending on the circumstance, but I honestly can’t imagine a situation where doing things right would make doing the right thing impossible.

I literally can’t imagine that as a choice. When would that kind of event occur? Under what circumstances?

STRIKE, STRIKE, STRIKE! – Marilyn Armstrong

I think it’s time for us to consider a general strike. With 800,000 people working for free — which someone recently pointed out is actually slavery — it looks like time for every worker in the country to put down his or her tools — and walk away. Some urgent services would have to support skeleton crews — doctors, nurses, firefighters … but the rest?

United Kingdom – 2016

Pilots and cops and maybe robbers too … just stop. Whatever you are doing, don’t. Don’t work in a bank or a real estate office. Don’t be a judge and don’t be a lawyer. If there are no judges, you won’t need the lawyers. If there are no police, you don’t need jailers. Or jails.

Winnipeg General Strike – 1919

You want a REAL government shutdown? We can do that.

And meanwhile, in Brazil …

Let’s shut it down. If NO ONE works I can pretty much guarantee we’ll have a settlement really fast — as in pretty much immediately. As a matter of fact, everyone in the government can go home, too, including the Secret Service.

Let’s see how that works at the White House.

BLUE AND YELLOW – SKY, SEA, FLOWERS AND AT LEAST ONE BIRD – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Blue and Yellow

Photos: Garry and Marilyn Armstrong

Some of these have gotten a little too complicated for me. The one with color and it has to end in A? Nope, sorry. I’ll be very interested in what everyone else comes up with, though. I think it’s that I’m not feeling well and feeling definitely cranky.

I’m really not sure how much material I have, but I’ll give it a try! Let me start with flowers because, for me, most color starts with flowers — or birds!

Then I take a look at oceans and skies. You just never know about that.

Yellow and blue on Rt. 201 to Skowhegan – a bit impressionist!

And what about those Arizona mountains? Gotta be something there, right?

Blue and yellow daisies
Yellow stone Arizona desert – Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong – Yellow boat and blue water!
Bluewater and yellow leaves at the Mumford Dam
You can’t stop a determined blue and yellow Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse – Blue and yellow bird!
Blue jeans and a yellow gymnasium floor
Early morning in Vermont – a blue and yellow time of day!

PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED US ALL – REBLOG – The Shinbone Star

Say every bad thing you want about Vladimir Putin, but also give him credit: Planting a real, live Russian agent in the Oval Office! What a coup!

Maybe that claim is a little hasty, but the FBI didn’t think so, going so far as to launch a counterintelligence investigation of President Donald Trump in 2016 on suspicion that his activities as president were so off-the-wall crazy that he could be an agent of a hostile foreign government — Russia.

The status of that investigation, since taken over by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, is uncertain. Mueller’s report can’t come too soon.

The story about Trump as possible secret agent was published last week by our sister paper, The New York Times, and was followed by a report from our other sister paper, The Washington Post, which said that Trump has kept his own staff in the dark about his communication with the Russian president. In fact, The Post reported that Trump went so far as to confiscate a translator’s notes after a conversation with Putin so the notes wouldn’t become part of the federal record.

Trump’s action, as reported in both newspapers, is dangerous, suspicious and unprecedented in the history of the American presidency.

Homer Simpson as Vladimir Putin

While Putin might receive kudos for the success and sheer audacity of his spycraft, his choice of an actual spy leaves much to be desired. However much Trump sucks as president, he seems equally inept as a secret agent. Putin has to be smacking his own forehead in frustration at the way Trump has given himself away.

We Americans have to count our blessings where we can, so just imagine how much worse things might be if Trump were actually good at his job.

Imagine if he hadn’t fired James Comey, but had been smooth enough to keep stringing the former FBI director along. What if no special prosecutor had been appointed and what if Trump hadn’t mouthed off about Russia and Comey in that interview with NBC’s Lester Holt? What if he’d had the foresight not to invite those Russian diplomats into the Oval Office for a tête-à-tête held out of American media earshot? What if he’d been savvy enough not to parrot the words of his handler, Putin, in spurning his own U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia had meddled in our election?

Instead of the suave, sophisticated Agent 007, Putin seems to have installed a bumbling pussy-grabber into the White House, someone more akin to Austin Powers than James Bond. Imagine if Trump hadn’t been so blatant in his groveling. Imagine if he hadn’t telegraphed his allegiance to the Kremlin with every move. He’s been so obvious that only the most shatteringly ignorant troglodytes in a base hardly known for scholarship can fail to see where his loyalty lies.

As scary as it is to contemplate that a Russian agent with access to the nuclear codes might be sitting behind the Resolute Desk as we speak, I also find these thoughts unsettling:

  • Republicans in Congress continue to support Trump despite evidence that he’s a numbnuts, at best, and very possibly a treasonous bastard worthy of a Tom Clancy novel.
  • Despite the Russian-sponsored election cheating that took place in 2016, enough Americans were stupid enough to fall for it and for Trump’s toxic blend of xenophobia, misogyny and racism. Congratulations, doofuses, it’s sure starting to look like you elected an actual fucking Russian asset!
  • Although the visible damage wrought by Trump is catastrophic, what else might he have already done or might he still do that we don’t know about?
  • How long will it take to repair the incalculable damage to U.S. integrity and esteem? The preeminent democracy in the world has harbored a Russian spy as its commander and chief and done nothing about it for two years and counting. It’s not a good look. Never think that Putin hasn’t diminished this country on the world stage. Mission accomplished!

There are times in life when something so devastating happens that all you can do is laugh. It’s gallows humor, like when one guy gets kicked in the nuts and his buddies stand around and guffaw while thinking, “Thank God that wasn’t me.”

But it IS me this time. In fact, it’s all of us. America’s president acting on behalf of a hostile foreign power. An entire country is left squirming on the floor, and it sure ain’t no laughing matter.