WORLD SHARING COMES AGAIN … Marilyn Armstrong

SHARING THE WORLD

List things or events that changed your life?

This is a strange question. I’ve lived 71 years. The number of events that have changed my world are … literally … countless. From learning to stand, to learning to read. To learning to love furry creatures, to discovering the woods and the sky.

Moving along and learning that I want to know everything. Discovering I’ll never be a math genius, but knowing I can write. Painting. Photography. What’s wrong with one marriage and what’s right with another.

Discovering quiet and being alone.

Recognizing that I can’t do the things I did, but I can do other things I never thought I could do. Life is a long pattern of discoveries and each changes your life. From tiny changes, like a new way to lace your shoes or brush your teeth, to realizing that you never will know “the meaning of life” unless you agree that 42 will do it for you.

Playing the piano. Struggling with guitar. Falling in love with computers.

Piano lessons

All the books you read, all the thoughts they put in your head. All the things you write and the pictures you take. I don’t think there’s one single thing that changed my world. There were millions of things that changed it. And, with a little luck, there will be millions more yet to come.

Complete this sentence: Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it’s… 

Mom? How did you get up there?

What genre of music do you like?

I like music with melody, rhythm, and when possible, words I can remember. I don’t like rap or “hard rock” which to me just sounds like noise. To be fair, this isn’t recent. I always felt like that about it, even when I was a whole lot younger.

My favorite piece of music is Beethoven’s 6th Symphony, The Pastoral.

Second favorite (at the moment): Pancho and Lefty.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week? 

Finally getting antibiotics and discovering this morning I can breathe without making that hideous bubbling sound. This is a better morning!

A PORN STAR, A PLAYMATE, A PLAINTIFF AND A GUY NAMED PECKER WALK INTO A BAR – BY TOM CURLEY

EDITOR’S NOTE: Stormy Daniels has a 1-hour interview scheduled on CBS this evening — 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper — at 7 PM. It’s the real deal show! Trump wanted his own show, and now, he’s getting it! Maybe not exactly how he planned it. 

And the bartender says “What is this? Some kind of joke?”

The answer is, yes and no. It’s not a joke. It’s reality. In so far as reality has become a bigger and bigger joke these days, it is a joke. And the bar they walked into wasn’t a ‘bar’ bar. It was a legal bar.

So, what’s the joke? The president is suing a porn star, Stormy Daniels, because she broke a Non-Disclosure Agreement for talking about an affair the President insists never happened.

I’ve never met this woman!

He’s basically saying: “I did not have an affair with that person to whom I paid $130,000 to not talk about the affair we had.”

What’s the other joke? A former Playboy Playmate, Karen McDougal, is suing The National Enquirer because they bought an interview from her detailing the affair she had with the President.

I’ve never met this woman either!

They silenced her by simply not running the story. The punchline here? The guy who killed the story is named Pecker.

The jokes are the news.

There’s also a plaintiff, Summer Zervos, who is suing the President for defamation of character.

But that’s not funny. Not all news is funny.

I don’t think the news is supposed to be funny. These days, more and more of the news is funny. Absurdly funny. Or possibly ridiculous. Is there a difference? “You can’t make this shit up.”

How many times have we heard that phrase recently?News and comedy are becoming one.

Where do you get your news? The CBS Evening News or Stephen Colbert? The ABC Evening News or Jimmy Kimmel? CNN or The Daily Show?

I usually choose the latter because I get the same raw information, just with jokes. These days you get the jokes more and more just from reading the news.

When I worked on network news shows at CBS, we would have monitors showing the other networks. As you’d expect, all the shows did all the same stories in roughly the same order. Makes sense. These days, I notice the same stories on all the late night comedy shows too. The comedians all tell pretty much the same jokes in pretty much the same order. The thing is, they all thought the jokes up separately. But since the story is the same, they come up with the same jokes.

It’s just the news.

Comedy and news are becoming one.

I know I’m going to laugh when I watch The Daily Show. I expect to laugh. I’m getting the same laughs from CNN and MSNBC. Who are not trying to be funny! They are merely reading the news!

“Hey, did you see Wolf Blitzer last night? He killed!” I didn’t make up the title of this blog. I saw it on TV. Which late night show? None of them. It was a pundit on CNN, Ana Navarro, who said it.

I’m here through Thursday. Try the veal!
Comedy-and-news-are-becoming-one.

That’s not what’s really worrying me. What happens when they separate? When comedy and news split and become two separate things? What happens when the news isn’t funny anymore?

Our current clown show reality has a shelf life. It can’t go on forever. It will just seem like forever. 

What happens after a sane, boring President is elected — and there are no more daily scandals, screw-ups, and shit-storms? No more crazy tweets? No more porn stars, playmates, plaintiffs, and guys named Pecker? The news will continue, but what about all the poor comedians, comedy writers, bloggers, and columnists? They will have to go back to writing jokes again.

They will be forced to think up funny stuff on their own! Our comedic muscles are atrophying! I can feel it. What can we do about it? Are there special comedic exercises? Should we fill in Mad Libs? Improv?

Sure, we could, but why bother? We can’t top reality. We can’t make this shit up.

When that time comes, we’ll all just have to buckle up and get back to work — making up jokes. When that time comes, I think I’ve got a good one.

Picture of Mr. Pecker not included.

A porn-star, a plaintiff,  a playmate and a guy named Pecker walk into bar …

Too soon?

IDENTICAL? NOT EXACTLY, BUT ABSOLUTELY RHYMING

No two things are identical, though many things seem to be on the surface.

Even identical twins are not precisely identical. There’s always some small difference. Every snowflake is unique. Each part of history is slightly different from any other.

But if things aren’t identical, they can be remarkably similar. “Rhyming” as Samuel Clemens artfully phrased it.

Our world today rhymes well with the rise of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. Every single day that passes make this more obvious. The U.S. is not 1930s Germany, yet we resemble it sufficiently to make some of us — me for example — very worried.

Many people describe the German government at the time as weak — or mostly too weak to fight back. There was a time — quite a long time — when they could have fought back. When Hitler could have been forced down and out, but it didn’t happen.

Will we do a better job? Are we trying? What more can we do?

My friend, Martha Kennedy pointed out to me that Trump is not a Republican.

Trump is a fascist.

It caught me off-guard for a second. My breath went in and stopped there … and then I knew she was right. He isn’t a Republican. He isn’t even an American. There isn’t a patriotic, nation-loving bone in his bloated body. He is a greedy, bigoted, narcissist who cares about no one but himself. He is loyal to nothing.

In my heart, I would like to see him in handcuffs off to a long-term in Federal prison, but I would settle for him and all those wretched people he has sucked into our government removed and banned from government. If you can ban Pete Rose from baseball, how much more so should we be banning that thing from any kind of government — or even the possibility of getting any sort of government assistance for any project. Ever.

But don’t worry. I’m sure someone will hire him to do play by-play on a TV news show somewhere. Let’s take a wild guess here. You think possibly Fox?

WHEN THE SWORD COULD BE MIGHTIER THAN THE TRUTH

In theory, we applaud “whistle blowers.” We are grateful that they have brought forth an important story. An issue with which we should all be concerned.

In the real world, whistle blowers fare poorly. They don’t get a lot of congratulations. They are distrusted by everyone in their industry and elsewhere. They are frequently prosecuted for failing to come forward sooner by outside authorities and always fired by their employers — regardless of what “the law” says.

Within the organization on whom they are lowering the boom, they are ostracized. Typically they are prevented from earning a living in that profession again. Scorned. Hated by many whose careers are ruined.  A lot of people will go down when that whistle blows.

The other day, I told the story of Bernard Cardinal Law and our Somali cat, Big Guy. It was a true story. Cute and friendly.

The story gets a lot less friendly a few years later. That was when Garry and others in his age-group were being forced out of television by virtue of having gotten “too mature” or just “not the right type” to roll with the “new kids” on the TV block. It was the same time that the huge story of the pedophile priests of Boston was breaking. Garry didn’t cover the story (though he followed it closely) because by then, he was not working.

Cardinal Law had been one of his friends in Boston’s power structure. He was one of the people Garry would have turned to when his own fortunes needed a lift. Instead, the Cardinal was coming down. He went back to Rome where he passed away in December 2017.

The demise of the reign of Bernard Cardinal Law was tragic on many levels. He was in charge of moving the pedophile priests from parish to parish, year after year. More than 20 years that we know of. He had to know it was wrong. He was a bright man. A Jesuit. Well-educated. Intelligent in a worldly way, not just as a churchman.

But, he had his orders. Discipline in the Church is no different than in the military or police. Strict. You do not fight with your superiors … not if you intend to remain in the Church.

While this was going on, William (Billy) Bulger — an important Massachusetts political figure for many years and who was another friend of Garry’s — was grabbing his golden parachute and drifting away. He had been promoted from head of the Massachusetts’ Senate to President of the University of Massachusetts. A genuine intellectual, he was political, funny, and rivetingly smart.

But. He had a brother and that brother was a criminal. Not just any criminal. Whitey Bulger was one of the FBI’s most wanted criminals. A very big deal on the criminal scene. Whitey had been in hiding for decades. Despite this, no one had closely questioned Dr. William Bulger about his brother’s location.

You’d think that would be on the tip of everyone’s tongue, but it wasn’t. Or, maybe it was, but it never made it past the ears of those who heard or knew.

How many people — other than brother Billy — knew where Whitey was hiding? Politicians, reporters, policemen, and more than a handful of FBI agents knew, not to mention the entire Bulger family. But no one was publicly saying anything.  Supposedly, Whitey was also an informant and protected by the FBI. It got extremely tangled and in the end, at least one agent ended up in prison.

Note: John Connolly, the former FBI agent, was convicted of racketeering, obstruction of justice and murder — charges stemming from his relationship with James “Whitey” Bulger, Steve Flemmi, and the Winter Hill Gang. He was convicted on racketeering charges in 2002 and sentenced to ten years in federal prison. In 2008, he was convicted on state charges of second-degree murder in Florida and sentenced to 40 years in prison. 

Everything wound up in court. Movies were made.

The issue always arises — when does conscience force you to tell the whole truth? When does  being on the right side exceed your need to survive, have a career, get your pension, protect your family? Protect your life? At what point are you obligated to question orders and do the right thing? This is no simple question. While we acknowledge good and evil, in our real lives, there is more going on than that. There are other people to protect. Family. Friends, Co-workers. That can add up to an awful lot of people and if you bring them down, they aren’t going to thank you because you “did the right thing.” How hated are you ready to be?

This is the question. Whether you march with the church, a political machine, are a police officer, or in the military — the truth can get you and yours killed. As in literally (not figuratively) dead. Or locked in a prison from which you will never again see the light.

When does obedience to the order to which you belong end and obedience to higher principles begin? Discipline is strict. If you do not obey a direct order — conscience or not — you can and will be brought up on charges. Fired. You will lose everything. Probably forever.

In theory, conscience should (must) rule but in reality — there’s a lot more to it. You don’t just disobey a command from a superior officer, whether the officer is the Pope, a Colonel, or the President. Not without paying some stupendous price. Your disobedience might easily cost you your life or the lives of those you care about. Not to mention everything you value.

The cost of obeying your conscience is only a small thing when the issue is maybe snitching on your older brother to a mom or dad. That’s probably the last time it’s no big deal. The higher up you get in the ranks of any organization, the harder you will fall.

Nor, in the end, will you got a lot of thanks for your efforts. Even those for whom you went out on a limb will probably not be thanking you.

While all this high-end drama was playing out, the people that Garry had hoped he could ask for help in repositioning himself in the market were collapsing, never to be publicly seen again. While he was going down, they were falling too.

They had better parachutes than Garry. Life can be very funny that way.

Note 2: For a real life look at the life of a prominent whistle blower, take a look at the life of Frank Serpico, the guy about whom they made the movie. 

GUN WARS: EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE – BY TOM CURLEY

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away … well, actually, it was a week or so ago and it was in Florida (which many could argue, is another world), something really different and really not normal happened. There was yet another mass shooting. This time at a high school in Broward County. 17 dead, more wounded. But that wasn’t the not normal thing. That happens all the time. That’s normal.

No, the really different thing that happened was the students who DIDN’T GET KILLED rose up and formed a rebellion. A rebellion against the Empire.  Also known as the NRA.

And as rebel fighters, these kids are good. Really good. In just a week or so they’ve knocked down or destroyed all of the Empire’s usual tricks.

EMPIRE: Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
REBELLION: Fuck your thoughts and prayers! We just got shot at! Get rid of machine guns!
EMPIRE: But now is not the time to talk about gun control.
REBELLION: Fuck you. Now is exactly the time and we’re talking about it!
EMPIRE: This is a mental health issue.
REBELLION:  No shit Sherlock! We’ve been telling you this guy is fucked up for a while now. He was voted “most likely to shoot up the school”! But that didn’t stop him from legally buying a military assault rifle and KILLING US with it!

EMPIRE: We need armed guards in schools. We need to arm teachers. The only way to beat a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.
REBELLION: We had an armed guard! He left the building! And arming teachers? Are you kidding? A bad guy  shoots at everybody. It’s a “target rich environment”.  That’s why he’s there. The teacher can only shoot at one target and one target only.  And  all this  while we’re all running around like crazy, trying NOT TO BE KILLED !  You’d have to be Luke Skywalker  to make that shot! What the hell is wrong with you??

And the rebellion is spreading. All around the country. You  think the Russians are the best at using social media to effect politics?   You have no idea what a nation of pissed off teenagers can do.

And it’s only just begun. Business sponsors are already leaving the NRA. They’re on the defensive. Will the Rebellion win? Will the Empire Strike Back? Of course they will. But don’t count out this rebellion.


Strong the force is with these young ones.


TRUMP OVERLOAD – BY ELLIN CURLEY

Something has changed in me. A switch has been turned off. I am no longer obsessed with Donald Trump. I don’t feel compelled to follow every statement, every interview, every tweet from the President. He no longer seems as important or relevant.

Trump’s National Security and Foreign Policy Cabinet members apparently agree with me. They have recently told the rest of the world to basically ignore Trump, particularly his tweets. They have tried to reassure everyone that our foreign policy is what it always was, not what Trump seems to think it is — or wants it to be.

Trump’s Chief of Staff, John Kelly, said that he doesn’t even read Trump’s tweets. Nothing to see here folks. Move along!

The government seems to be working over and around Trump in many ways. Not with him or for him. He can still veto things and issue signing statements, but what he says and does on a daily basis is no longer of major importance to the rest of his administration. Or to me.

I don’t want to watch Trump any more or hear him talk. It’s like chalk on a blackboard. I’m over him. I’m sick of being sickened or outraged. At least first-hand.

I still read editorials and articles analyzing the effects of things that Trump says and does. I can’t avoid him completely on Cable News, which I still watch. But it’s as if he is dead to me now. I don’t get a knot in my stomach every time I hear him say something awful. He no longer has the power to push all my buttons up to eleven, over and over, day after day.

I expect him to be vile and psychopathic, outrageously ignorant and untruthful, narcissistic, annoying and enraging. All the time. So nothing surprises me or ‘gets’ to me anymore. Everything he does is a big “Whatever! What else is new?”

I don’t know where this leaves me going forward. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to sustain this healthy distance from the toxicity of Donald Trump. I just know that this attitude is better for my blood pressure and my overall physical and mental well-being. My mood has improved and I’m more upbeat and positive. So far, so good.

I’m still passionate about what is happening in my country. I’m still following the news closely every day. It’s just not all about Donald Trump anymore for me. Maybe the key to surviving the rest of his term is for everyone to marginalize him. Make him irrelevant. Laugh at him and don’t take him seriously.

If nothing else, it will drive Trump friggin’ crazy!

THE BIG MILITARY PARADE: A GARRY ARMSTRONG PRODUCTION

I can see it all.

Agent Orange will dress as a military general with lots of fruit on his shoulders when they hold his big parade.  I’m seeing Sterling Hayden and George C. Scott  (“Dr. Strangelove”) in this scenario.
Imagine, if you will, the wonderful, amazing “coming attractions” they could produce for this bigly event!

TRUMP: THE MAN, THE MYTH AND THE LEGEND 


2018/MGM-Warner Bros

Starring:

JOHN WAYNE, GARY COOPER, HENRY FONDA, ERNEST BORGNINE, ROBERT RYAN, LEE MARVIN, JOHN MILLS, JOHN GIELGUD, LAURENCE OLIVIER, PETER O’TOOLE, OMAR SHARIF, GERT FROBE,
RICHARD ATTENBOROUGH, STEVE McQUEEN, YUL BYRNNER, CHARLES BRONSON

With 

ROB GRONKOWSKI as “TRUMP”

A SAM PECKINPAH, OLIVER STONE PRODUCTION.