WRITHE AND WRING YOUR HANDS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Writhe

Even though it isn’t Earth Day today, I have come to feel that every day is Earth Day, at least as long as we are allowed to live on the earth. All of this happened because I follow Bizarro and a number of other cartoonists on Facebook.

Earth’s day in court

It’s really about the only thing I do follow on Facebook since they stopped posting the scores of the currently playing teams I follow. That, at least, used to get me to go over and look to see who was winning or losing whatever they were doing — football, baseball, basketball. You know. Whatever is currently in season.

These days, having to look at Facebook for any reason makes me writhe nervously and twitch uncontrollably. These are the people who got me hacked. Whenever I am on their site, I’m convinced something evil is happening, if not to me, then to someone I know. But there’s still stuff there I can’t find elsewhere, so I swallow hard, breathe heavily, and go.

Facebook is beginning to remind me of Charter, our well-hated cable network. We don’t have a choice about using Charter because whoever runs our town (I literally don’t know and it’s better if I don’t know) made a deal that only Charter can ply its wares in Uxbridge. Thus we do not have Fios, for example. We can get Dish, but the trees don’t agree. Too many tall trees. Many too many.

FIOS isn’t allowed to run their wires down our road. Meanwhile, Charter is having problems, so we get dozens of little “off air” glitches that last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Some knock us off the air entirely. After which I need to reboot the router, modem, TV, telephone, and both computers. They always glitch exactly when Garry or I am about to place an order for dog biscuits or Gingko Biloba or a book I’ve been hemming and hawing about ordering for months.

Speaking of sports …

Suddenly, you get the all too familiar “can’t reach that page” and you realize the computer is down. I look at Garry. His computer is also down. I don’t bother to check the telephone because I’m sure it’s not working either.

The more we depend on ISP services, the more they run our world. To have your world run by Trump is bad enough, but to have it run by Charter Communications is demeaning.

I spend a lot of time writhing and twitching. Life in 2019 is uncomfortable in all kinds of ways.

We are all human beans

Today, I had reason to check out Bizarro because he’s going to have a live feed on Facebook tomorrow and if I can figure out how to make it run, I’m going to tune in.

I’m not big with “live on Facebook” stuff mainly because I really don’t know how it works. I can usually make it work — eventually — but I haven’t put much mental energy into figuring it out. By the time I get myself hooked up, the event is over. I’m not sure why, but I swear everything is far more complicated than it used to be.

I remember you used to find the page and click it and you were “on.” Now, there’s a link and a code and usually, one of those “I’m not a robot” thingies that despite not being a robot, I can’t read. So by the time I dope out what kind of robot I’m not, it’s finished. I’ve missed it. I will try to get there early, but no promises.

I’m not a robot. Really. I’m not. I swear it. Or if I am, no one told me.

THE WIND AND THE LION (1975) STARRING CANDICE BERGEN AND SEAN CONNERY – Marilyn Armstrong

wind and lionThe Wind and the Lion is an old-fashioned, romantic adventure tale set in turn of the century Morocco and Washington DC. Parallel stories, an ocean apart, the interlocking of which in many ways foretells the world we live in today.

President Theodore Roosevelt (Brian Keith) is facing an upcoming election. The nation is not thrilled about his handling of the Panama Canal project and although he is among the most popular presidents in many long years, re-election is anything but certain. Meanwhile, in Morocco, an American woman, Eden Pedecaris (Candice Bergen) and her two children are kidnapped by Berber brigand Mulai Ahmed er Raisuli (Sean Connery), triggering a variety of international incidents.

All of this is taking place not long before the opening of the first world war, after which nothing will ever be the same again. All the European powers, as well as the U.S., Japan, Russia, and Turkey,  have their eyes on strategically placed Morocco, headed by a weak sultan who is beset by civil unrest. The Pedecaris incident has given the various nations an opportunity to send in the troops.

And they do. All of them. Including, of course, America.

Meanwhile, out in the desert, there is Mrs. Pedecaris riding with the Berbers.

“You are a great deal of trouble, Mrs. Pedecaris,” says the Raisuli, sounding deliciously like James Bond. Indeed she is.  Ah, but what a woman! My kind of woman, one who will take up a sword and fight — for herself, her children and what is right, by golly.

Out in the desert are the Raisuli and Mrs. Pedicaris. He’s brave, handsome and sits a horse like nobody’s business. And she’s beautiful, fearless and proud. What a pair. I have always thought Candice Bergen among the most beautiful women ever. In this movie, she is magnificent as is Connery. They play off each other wonderfully. I don’t know if you could call Sean Connery, as a Berber Chieftain, exactly believable, but he is stunning. Flashing eyes, sharp tongue. A master of wit and charm.

It was probably the best role Brian Keith ever got too. He is entirely believable as Teddy Roosevelt. I’m ready to vote for him. Why not? At least he was straightforward about wanting the United States to militarily dominate the world and he created the national parks system.

They don’t make’em like that anymore.

The score was composed and conducted by Jerry Goldsmith who used an ensemble including a large percussion section and many Moroccan instruments. The music is haunting and although Jaws composer John Williams won that year’s Oscar, the score for The Wind and the Lion is stunning, possibly Goldsmith’s best; it was one of the American Film Institute’s 250 nominees for top 25 American film scores.

Filmed in Spain where the director, John Milius, had previously filmed his spaghetti westerns (even the scenes set in D.C. were actually shot in Madrid), the cinematography is breathtaking. Broad vistas, magnificent sunsets, deserts and battles on horseback with scimitars at the ready.

The film is accurate and sympathetic to Islam, making it one of the few American movies to become popular in Arab countries. It’s refreshing to see a movie that doesn’t automatically assume the only possible valid religion is Christianity.

When I say romantic, I mean it in the epic sense of the word. It’s a world filled with heroes and heroines who are larger than life. There’s not a superpower among them, but nonetheless, superheroes abound.

It’s a great movie. Without a bit of gore, grit, or gristle. No zombies, chain saws or special effects. No CGI. Just great photography, a delicious script, and terrific acting.

Because that’s what it takes to make a wonderful movie. Everything else is wrapping paper and ribbons.

WHEN THEY CANCEL YOUR MEDICATIONS – Marilyn Armstrong

I really wanted to somehow fit this into one of the many prompts going around, but nothing fit. Sorry.


Twice during the past two weeks, medication on which I depend — and could afford — have been discontinued. The loss of Demerol wasn’t a big surprise. It’s an old medication and not many people use it anymore. It was one of the few opioid-type medications I could take. Anything based on morphine makes me sick. Some of them make me VERY sick and cause hallucinations. Once, Dilaudid stopped my breathing and they had to come in and get me breathing again.

But Demerol is not morphine-based, so I could use it.

It didn’t work terribly well. To be fair, it was weak compared to other opioid medications, but my body tolerated it and wasn’t addicted to it. It has been increasingly difficult to get for a while. There was only one company producing it and sometime over the past few months, they just stopped distributing it anywhere. No pharmacy has any. Not even the hospital.

Then, today, the pharmacy called to tell me that Adderall was no longer available, either. That surprised me. A lot of people depend on it for a bunch of different reasons. Children with ADD. Adults with narcolepsy or exhaustion due to constant time changes at work and those with uncontrollable apnea.

And people like me who can’t drive without medication because I suffer from intense road hypnosis. It’s uncontrollable. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to pull off the road and sleep only to be awakened by a policeman telling me to move on. Mind you, that’s what I’m legally required to do if I’m unable to drive. It says so in your “learning to drive” manual … but the police don’t seem to get it.

In any case, pulling off the road is not always a viable alternative. I’ve had at least one serious accident because I went unconscious at the wheel. Lucky me, I live here and there wasn’t any traffic so I’m alive to tell the tale. I don’t even know when I went unconscious. Apparently. the car continued to roll forward for some miles before I veered into a tree. Messed up the car. I was afraid to tell the cops what happened because they would have pulled my license on the spot. Narcoleptics — not surprisingly — are prohibited from driving. But I was still working at that point and if I couldn’t drive, I would be in big trouble.

That’s when my doctors started giving me “keep awake” medicine. First, it was something called Provigil, then Nuvigil. Both drove my blood pressure sky high and I’m not sure those two medications didn’t have something to do with my later problems with my heart. Without Adderall, which is relatively benign, those are the only two drugs left … and taking either one of them would kill me. Which means — I can’t drive. At all. While I don’t drive often, I like to know I can if I must. It’s not like I can grab a taxi. There are no taxis here. No buses. No trains. No nothing.

I spent the entire day trying to find some kind of herbal thing that would help. To some degree, Gingko Biloba and Ginseng can help a little, but they don’t help everyone and aren’t dependable. I ordered some Gingko and the theory that it can’t hurt and maybe it will help.

If you are an herbalist and have suggestions, please be in touch! I can use all the help I can get.

I think I’ve found a medication that deals with the pain. At least it did last night and it did it so well, I have to admit it is a major improvement over the Demerol I was taking.

Nothing is going to keep me awake. Once I start to go under, I can open the windows and have the snow and ice coming in. I can literally hit myself in the head repeatedly. It won’t help. I will still become unconscious very quickly. I’m also both a sleep talker and a sleepwalker. It’s all related.

I will also fall asleep multiple times during the day and not even know I’ve been asleep until I realize the show on TV is different. Or the people I was with have gone home. Once I collapsed and fell asleep on the stairs (Cataplexy). I just folded up and was gone.

Why are these medication disappearing?

Because they are cheap. The companies who make it aren’t making a big enough profit. I’m betting these medications will eventually show up again but with new names and a far higher price tag.

So that was MY day. How was yours?

TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME – Marilyn Armstrong

I enjoy baseball. I used to enjoy it because Garry is such a fan of the sport, I was either going to learn to like it or spend half the year having no one to talk to because there was a game on TV.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Gradually, I got to really like the game for its own sake. Its complexity. The slow, careful way it unfolds. The subtleties of how the ball is thrown, how the pitcher finds the seams and throws so the ball dips or rises. How it is caught and by whom. The way the field is set up, depending on who is hitting. All those decisions about running and stealing.

Errors.

Was it a mental or physical error? What other sport takes the time to figure out whether the subject thought wrongly or just did the wrong thing? Imagine a football announcer discussing whether that was a mental or physical error? No one talks “mental” in football, despite the enormous complexity of the game. Baseball is relatively simple compared to football.

Garry and Harvey Leonard, famed meteorologist, sharing old Dodger baseball memories

Stop and think about all the things that must go through the mind of the quarterback and his team to make a play. It is mind-boggling.

The point is, I like baseball and I sort of like football, though I’m less familiar with its finer points than baseball. Football makes me say “OUCH! That really had to hurt!” while watching. I’m amazed anyone has a brain after it gets whacked during the game.

Gate D – Fenway Park

People who don’t like sports don’t get it. They don’t see the point. Why bother? It’s just a bunch of guys running around a square before when a ball gets whacked by a batter.

Can you whack that ball? If you can do it regularly, you can get paid as much as $250 million for — I’m not sure — maybe 10 years? Does whatever you do pay that well? So, however dumb you may think it is, if they would pay you that much money, you think you might run around the bases? Yeah, I think so too.

Baseball season!

So now we get do why is it dumber to play baseball than do something else? Is working in a bank smarter? For that matter, is writing manuals for software inherently more intelligent? Or is it just something I do well enough to get paid?

I can’t play baseball for money because I can’t play. If someone offered me millions of dollars? I’d run around that field with joy in my heart and probably, so would you. Even if you don’t know what the game is about, if the pay is high enough, you’ll play.

Mostly, what we do for a living depends on what we do well. It’s nice when it’s something meaningful, something in which you can make a difference. Whatever that means these days. Most of us do the best we can with whatever talents we have.

So I ask you: why is running around during a ball game sillier than sitting in front of a computer writing code for computer games? Or any other software? What is the difference except that ballplayers earn a lot more money?

It is a whole lot easier to find a coder than any kind of pitcher or a guy who can hit home runs. If it was harder to find a coder than a pitcher, I’m pretty sure the coder would earn better money. People who play sports brilliantly are rare … and that’s why they earn the big bucks.

So much of what we do in life is dumb. We don’t work because it’s smart. We do it or did it because we needed a paycheck. If we also enjoyed it, we got lucky.

If you are one of the annoying people who despises sports because they are stupid, ask yourself what you do which is so much smarter? And how well do you get paid to do it? And if they offered you millions to run around bases and whack a ball with a bat, would you do it?

You bet you would. I know I would.

LITTLE WHITE ASTERS – Marilyn Armstrong

Little White Asters – FOTD – July 6, 2019

Amidst the myriad tall green and orange Daylilies, the asters continue to grow. Taller than they usually stand, they have spread out all around the garden.

It’s a nice touch, those delicate little white flowers in the breaks between the tall daylilies, some of which have reached at least my height and a few are taller.

Tomorrow, it will rain, but Sunday I can get back to the garden and see what is growing!

Asters growing amidst the daylilies
More asters