FOWC with Fandango — Anomaly

Since we are on the subject of graduation I decided to do a twofer.

This is the story of Kaitlin’s graduation. At the time, everything had somehow or other come out perfect. After the drama of Kaity’s years in high school, we were astounded.


As far as we knew at the time of my granddaughter’s high school graduation, she had graduated on the Honor Roll. She had gotten into the college of her choice. She had a scholarship to cover her tuition and books. She’d found a job to coördinate with classes so she’d also have a little spending money, too.


After all the angst and periodic mayhem of Kaity’s high school reality show, we were thrilled.


After the month of May during which no rain fell, graduation day dawned dark, cold, and rainy. With a hint of foreboding, the family — me, Garry, Owen (dad), and Sandy (mom) — gathered in the parking lot of the new high school. It was early, so I suggested brunch. We adjourned to the breakfast joint in town and ordered the usual. Bacon. Eggs. Home fries. Toast. Coffee.

It took a long time to get the food. Every other parent and grandparent was also fortifying him or herself for the upcoming event.


Scheduled to start at one, the festivities started at exactly one, except indoors in the gym rather than outside. Without being able to use the great outdoors, the graduates, appropriately gowned and capped, marched around the gymnasium. They were smiling, giving little waves to the occasionally whooping audience.


We are not, as a family, big on whooping. We managed some enthusiastic applause, but mostly, we were taking pictures. Of course.

Garry had coerced a friend who is a videographer to shoot too, so it was an effort worthy of Cecil B. DeMille. We were ready for our close-ups.


The gym was hot, airless, and smelled like sweat.

Initial enthusiasm faded quickly as endless, dull speeches, heavily laden with every cliché ever used at such an event, commenced. And recommenced. And were repeated by the next local pol. Students with apparently no time restrictions droned on, interspersed with a band that tried hard to end at the same time.

My mother felt if they at least ended together, they were not a total failure.


The singers … well … it’s hard to justify them. Bad doesn’t cover it. An American Idol judge would have felt obliged to physically eject them from the stage. With extreme prejudice.

After they (mercifully) ended, the audience, in stunned silence, waited. Surely actually graduation would take place any minute.

Instead, the principal arose from her chair to begin the longest, dullest, most amateurish speech in the history of high school graduations. I’ve been to enough of them to recognize a really terrible speech.

Whether or not she was an equally terrible principal, I can’t say as I didn’t go to that school, but I’m betting she was. People who give speeches that dull, droning, meandering … well … how good would they be at anything else? She clearly didn’t actually know more than half the graduating seniors either. Oh shame, shame on her.


It wasn’t merely too long. Her abilities as a public speaker were profoundly lacking. Maybe she’d written the speech the night before and not read it through, counting on her (lack of) talent to carry the day. She should have skipped it entirely. It was a bad speech given by an inept speaker to an uninterested and by now, hostile audience.

She stumbled, back-pedaled, tried (desperately) to find something to say about each graduate, even when she clearly didn’t know the kid. At all.


The audience was slumping, murmuring. My back was spasming. Garry was limping. Graduates were talking lethargically amongst themselves about what they would do later … if they were ever finished with this … ceremony.

It reminded me fondly of my own high school graduation where my best friend burst into tears and couldn’t stop crying. I asked her why she was crying? It wasn’t like she enjoyed our high school. Lord knows I didn’t.

She said, “They bored us all these years and even today, they are boring us again.”

This was worse and I didn’t think it could get worse.


By the time it was over, the wind outside had picked up, the temperature had dropped into the low forties.

Party plans were abandoned due to exhaustion. It was almost four in the afternoon and no one was in a good mood except Garry, who didn’t yet know that his poisonous spider bites were infecting. That was for the next day’s festivities.

It was pouring, but at least the speakers, screechy singers, and off-key instruments were finally silent. We were allowed to creep out of the bleachers and go home. We had survived. Didn’t we at least deserve a free tee-shirt?

The college thing fell apart pretty quickly when Kaitlin realized her foot was even worse and there was no way she could stay on her feet the hours required to be a nurse. The scholarship was for a nursing program.

It didn’t transfer to anything else. There was no money for tuition and the price of a private college — or, in Massachusetts even a public one — were astronomical. They commented on the news last night that Massachusetts is 48th in the amount of money we give to higher education. Our public colleges cost more than many private ones.

72-KK-Grad-GA_078So Kaitlin fell into a slump and Garry was on multiple antibiotics for a month during which time he couldn’t walk, drive or do much of anything.

Synonyms for anomaly include: abnormal, atypical, nontypical, irregular, aberrant, exceptional, freak, freakish, odd, bizarre, peculiar, unusual, out of the ordinary, inconsistent, incongruous, deviant, deviating, divergent, and eccentric. And there are more if these don’t do it for you.

It was a long, long day … and the now the entire world is a vast, bizarre anomaly. Who knew?

In 2015, we had no idea what lay ahead.

OUR GRADUATE – Marilyn Armstrong


I don’t have any pictures of me graduating anything, although I did graduate. High School and I got a BA at Hofstra. But no one had a camera, no one took pictures. There were no cell phones yet. Garry took many pictures, but I can’t find the folder. I will have to search the hard drives because it is surely on one of them. In the meantime, these are what I have.

Kaitlin’s graduation, May 2015. I’m not sure if it seems longer ago than that or much more recent.

Waiting for the graduates to appear!

Grandfather and graduate – June 2015


The big moment!

This event was especially memorable because Garry had, unbeknownst to him, been bitten by a brown recluse spider the day before and was about to get very sick.

That was a few days away. This was the big moment!


Cover of "The True Glory - From D-Day to ...

From the Imperial War Museum Official Collection

The True Glory: From D-Day to V-E Day (1945)

The movie’s title is taken from a letter of Sir Francis Drake “There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the True Glory.”

Question: Which President won an Oscar?

Answer: No, not Ronald Reagan. The 1945 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature went to its uncredited producer, General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower didn’t merely produce the movie. He also directed the Allied forces of Word War II, a feat which deserved its own Oscar. So we gave him the presidency. It was the best America had to offer.

A co-production of the US Office of War Information and the British Ministry of Information, The True Glory documents the victory on the Western Front, from the invasion at Normandy to the collapse of the Third Reich.

The officially credited director was Garson Kanin. British director Carol Reed was not officially credited, but is listed as director on IMDB and other sources. Paddy Chayefsky is the officially listed writer.

Other writers not officially credited are Harry Brown, Frank Harvey, Gerald Kersh, Saul Levitt, Arthur Macrae, Eric Maschwitz, Jenny Nicholson, Guy Trosper and Peter Ustinov. So many people were involved in this remarkable documentary — which received the Oscar for best documentary in 1945 — it’s impossible to list them all.

General Eisenhower speaks with members of the ...

General Eisenhower speaks with members of the 101st Airborne Division on the evening of 5 June 1944 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The film was brilliantly edited down from more than 10 million feet of film taken by hundreds of war photographers, none of whom are credited.

The editing involved is extraordinary. During one long segment of film, there must have been thousands of cuts, each less than 2 seconds in length, most no more than one second long. That is a lot of splicing. It’s beautifully done, professional all the way.

You have likely seen many propaganda films from World War II. This isn’t one of them.

I’ve seen a lot of war movies. This is a real war, not a Hollywood redo.

English: Senior American military officials of...

Senior American military officials World War II.

The effects were not done with a computer. The bodies of the dead are human bodies. Soldiers, not actors.

The guns are firing ammunition. No special effects were used. The ships are on the seas and the aircraft, pilots, bombardiers are the real deal.

The battles are life and death. In real-time. It gave me the shivers.

As the movie progresses, there are maps so you can follow the progress of the various armies. It’s the first time I actually understood where the Battle of the Bulge took place and why it was called “the bulge.” It was like time travel for me, listening to Dwight D. Eisenhower. I grew up when Eisenhower was President. I remember his voice as the voice of the president of my childhood.

Perhaps it’s a good moment to ponder whether or not Eisenhower displayed his Oscar in the White House. My guess is, he didn’t. After you’ve been commander-in-chief of the Allied forces for a world war, the Oscar isn’t as big a deal as it might be for someone else.

English: Gen. of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower...

If you have not seen this movie and you have an interest in World War II, you should see it. It’s remarkable.

It is available on a 2-disc DVD. The set includes the European war, the Italian campaign, and the battles in the Pacific.

There are many good movies about the war, but this set of documentaries has the most remarkable footage I’ve ever seen.

Seeing it without any Hollywood manufactured footage is seeing the war for the first time. This is not a movie about the war.

This movie is the war.

I BURN FOR YOU – Marilyn Armstrong

Isn’t it odd how the language of love is all about burning and fire?

This song,  “Kiss of Fire” (Georgia Gibbs – 1952) was on the flip side of “Red Sails In the Sunset.” Even as a little kid, I found this song hilarious. Totally over the top. Every time I hear it, I laugh. It’s so … intense. Kind of the way I felt about love when I was 14. You know. All consuming? Soul mates forever?

Former relationships are “old flames.”

If you love someone but have not (yet) declared yourself? You are “carrying a torch.”

When a relationship gets tired, the chemistry is gone and “the fire has gone out.”

A powerful yearning for someone is a “burning passion.”

I had this song on a 45 rpm vinyl record. I was five. I memorized the words and have been singing it ever since. If I’m in the right mood, I will still sing it to Garry. He begs me to stop, but I persist.

I particularly love this line:

“If I’m a slave, then it’s a slave I want to be.


I touch your lips and all at once the sparks go flying
Those devil lips that know so well the art of lying
And though I see the danger, still the flame grows higher
I know I must surrender to your kiss of fire

Just like a torch, you set the soul within me burning
I must go on along this road of no returning
And though it burns me and it turns me into ashes
My whole world crashes without your kiss of fire

I can’t resist you, what good is there in trying
What good is there denying you’re all that I desire
Since first I kissed you my heart was yours completely
If I’m a slave, then it’s a slave I want to be
Don’t pity me, don’t pity me

Give me your lips, the lips you only let me borrow
Love me tonight and let the devil take tomorrow
I know that I must have your kiss although it dooms me
Though it consumes me, your kiss of fire
Since first I kissed you my heart was yours completely
If I’m a slave, then it’s a slave I want to be
Don’t pity me, don’t pity me

Give me your lips, the lips you only let me borrow
Love me tonight and let the devil take tomorrow
I know that I must have your kiss although it dooms me
Though it consumes me, your kiss of FIRE.


Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge:
Hands, Feet or Paws

One naked foot

Garry’s hands

Photo: Garry Armstrong – At home with dogs


Naked feet

Youthful feet


Hands, feet, and paws

Hand holding time

Gibbs’ feet