ANONYMITY AND ANECDOTAL TALES: FANDANGO’S PROVOCATIVE QUESTION 92

Fandango’s Provocative Question #92 -Anonymous or not?

I’ve been scammed, had my identity stolen not once, but twice and that was when I was anonymous. These days, it simply makes no difference. I’m not going to publish my address and phone number (though a hacker can easily get them if they want to) – or my driver’s licence – (thought it’s even more easily obtained).

Today’s question is …

I’m pretty sure if we use the Internet for anything other than posting the occasional photograph, anyone who wants us can get us. The last time I got “got” was through Facebook who sold my private information to Cambridge Analytica. No matter what anyone on Facebook says, I’m sure it was no accident. They simply sold a lot of information and in exchange, got a lot of money.

Garry at home in brilliant fall colors

I often think it’s my fault. I worked for companies who designed data mining software. It was pretty sophisticated stuff more than twenty-five years ago, so I can only imagine how amazing it is now.

Any privacy we had, the advent of online shopping, credit agencies (I mean seriously, Equifax got hacked and they are the ones supposedly protecting us!), data mining, and any place we have entered our “private information” doesn’t need to be hacked because they sell our information to anyone with the money to buy it. Unless you want to live  alone in the woods without electricity and the technology we depend on, you will get hacked.

On a more positive note, credit cards do not make you pay the hacking bills anymore. They have, after many years of denying the problem was their fault, given in. It IS their fault. It always was.

As a tech writer, I was an anonymous author (with one exception where I got credit) for more than thirty years. I thought THIS time, I wanted to be me. I’m old enough to feel it’s time to get some of the credit. I’m not going to live forever and this is my last time in the spotlight, such as it is.

Whether or not your name is on your website, you are in the public eye.

Personally, I can’t hack your data, but I’m not a hacker. Anyone who has the skills, even minimal skills, can get to you. If you were even a little bit famous, you’re out there. You will always be out there because nothing disappears from the virtual world. Garry was on television every night for more than thirty years. He doesn’t worry about getting spotted on Serendipity. People recognize him anyway even though he has been off the air for almost 20 years.

By the way, a suggestion you might consider is to NOT  fill in those cute little “mini contests” on Facebook. That information goes straight from your fingers to hackers in Russia, China, India, or Pakistan — and who knows where else. For all we know, Equifax is a hacking service. Probably so is Google and we already know about Microsoft. We merely have suspicions about Apple. Basically, every single big business that asks us to fill in forms that have nothing to do with what we are doing at the time (filing out our warranty, usually), know they are going to sell that data. Even if you don’t fill out all the information, your name, address, email and phone number are more than enough.

Barney Google – The History

Data mining rules the world. That’s the purpose of that “discount card” at your local grocery. They could just as easily give you the same discounts without a card, but the card registers your choices with corporate folks who want to know what you buy and where you buy it.

I won’t buy things at stores that require I give them a discount card. I know all my information is out there, but you have to draw the line somewhere. Because Garry and I are planted here and have been for a long time, anyone can find us. If you want to be harder to find, move frequently, and change your email and phone numbers regularly. We intentionally try to not change emails or phone numbers because it’s such a hassle. When you start changing it your online life can get messy.

Facebook assured me it wasn’t going to be a problem. They wrote me and TOLD me that. Liars.

As far as your house goes? You can find our house on Google. I found the house I lived in on Derech Hevron in Jerusalem on Google. I couldn’t find the house I grew up in because it’s not there anymore, but I found every other house I’ve ever lived in. From above. From the street. Any old way. I even found the place I lived in as an infant because remarkably, it’s still around.

I know that most of our information is already available. The best I can do is avoid known scamming sites like Facebook. Which is okay because they’ve banned me for running articles by people whose politics they don’t like. Not my stuff. Reblogged stuff. That’s why you won’t find Facebook on my connections. I really hate their nasty, arrogant butts.

By the way, this whole “thing” Trump is pulling with Google? It made me laugh. When Theodore Roosevelt was president (September 14, 1901 – March 4, 1909) in his enthusiasm to end monopolies (1901), he won. It didn’t matter. Standard Oil which became Esso, then Exxon, and now is Exxon-Mobil, ignored the court and kept doing their thing. Which was making money and they’re still doing it today. For those who ask what happens when someone doesn’t feel inclined to obey a court order?

If it’s me or you, you wind up in jail. If you own Standard Oil or Microsoft? You laugh and call one of your thousands of lawyers.

And now the dope is mostly legal most of the time …

So about taking on Google? The government (Obama? Trump? Bush?) wanted to take on Microsoft, then gave up and dropped the suit. I figure they will wind up doing the same thing with Google. Google might be even bigger in its own way than Microsoft. Not as rich (yet), but they are huge with Googly fingers in every pie, in every country. We have their television streaming network — and who doesn’t use them to find stuff on the Internet?

Google isn’t going anywhere. In a hundred years, they will probably own Congress and the President if they don’t already.

BRUTAL HONESTY AND THE KINDNESS OF A LOVING LIE

There is a time for honesty and a time for kind, warm-hearted honest lying. For example, here are questions that absolutely require a “yes” as the answer, no matter what think:

“Do these jeans make me look fat?” If you say anything except NO, you’re too stupid to deserve a relationship.

“Were you cheating on me in … (a date more than 5 years previous) …?” Unless you are still in that relationship and intending to break up your marriage, the answer is NO. All you will do by telling the truth is hurt your partner and maybe (but probably not) relieve yourself of guilt. The odds are very good that you will also relieve yourself of your relationship. 

“Do you still find me attractive?” Any answer other than yes can cost your life.

On the other hand, failure to communicate critical information can ruin lives. I always think about Cathy and Heathcliff. He eavesdropped on half of her conversation and stalks off in a rage. He never considers asking her if what he partially heard was what she meant or what the context was. Of course, if he had, it wouldn’t have made a very dramatic story, but that’s a different issue. A ten minute conversation could have salvaged three lives.

In the movie “Fanny,” she never tells him she is pregnant, so he goes off to war (convinced she doesn’t love him) and gets killed. If she had told him, everyone — including the child — might have been happy. Every time I’m forced to watch one of these movies, I just get annoyed.

Brutal honesty is always more brutal than honest. If you are forced to say something you know will hurt, at least be gentle. Brutal honesty is not honesty. It’s a brutal agenda wrapped in fake honesty. Don’t eavesdrop. If it just happens, you are not allowed to use whatever information you think you’ve gained by eavesdropping in an emotional confrontation. No one ever hears anything good while eavesdropping.

Use your judgment. If you care about someone, don’t make them miserable because you feel guilty about something. Your guilt is your problem, not his or hers. Making yourself feel better by traumatizing someone else is not being honest. It’s narcissistic.

HOW DO I FEEL ABOUT BLOG AWARDS? HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT PONZI SCHEMES?

Fandango’s Provocative Question #90

I’m glad you did the math on this one. I got lost somewhere in the squaring of numbers but numbers aren’t really my world. Actually, I’m not sure this IS my world. I watched the debate tonight and I’m not sure anything happened. We were hoping Kamala would tear out Pence’s throat, but sadly, that didn’t happen.

I don’t do blog awards. I remember when I got the first one and I was so excited! An award! Garry wanted to know if it came with hardware (that’s how he refers to statues, things that hang on walls or stand on shelves and have your name engraved on it) and I said “no.” He said if it didn’t come with hardware, it didn’t count. The only ones I do are challenges — mostly using photographs. They can be interesting especially if you have a big archive.

I think the awards are a nice touch to NEW bloggers who don’t have much of an audience. Until you realize it’s completely meaningless and most people think they’re sorta dumb, it’s nice to get any kind of recognition. I got lucky and got a surprisingly large amount of recognition pretty quickly as did you, but most people don’t have that experience. I think we both also rode the wave of political craziness when we began. I started right before Obama’s second run for office and you with the hysteria of Trumpty Dumpty.

Of course, we never imagined an EIGHT MONTH QUARANTINE — EIGHT FREAKING MONTHS SO FAR — or having a blithering idiot running the country. Is that blithering or blathering? I keep forgetting. Maybe it’s both? Our blithering, blathering idiot. Yeah. That says it.

So as for me, give me liberty or death, but not long lists of questions. Also, if people keep sending me these awards, I’m going to drive all of you crazy by actually sending you a nomination and demanding repeatedly that you send these out to 14 or 18 or 22 people … and make sure you send me a list so I know who got the nominations so I can badger them, too.

How do I feel about blog awards? The same way I feel about chain letters and Ponzi schemes. At my best, annoyed. At my worst, really annoyed.

Meanwhile, they keep telling us to get flu shots, but they don’t have the super flu shots Garry and I need because there’s a national shortage of the super senior flu shots … so please shut up about it already. They don’t HAVE THE SHOT. I’ll get one when they have one to give me. Sheesh.

 

KARMA

Fandango’s Provocative Question #89

I think we need to start with a definition because Karma means different things to different people and faiths, including people of no particular faith. The dictionary says:

Karma:


In Hinduism and Buddhism, the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences. That is an extremely simplistic answer to a very complex subject. Informally, it refers to destiny or fate, as an effect from a cause. What most of us mean is “what goes around, comes around,” or some version of “the chickens come home to roost when you least expect them.” 

There are a million “expressions” that, on some level, refer to karma or karmic patterns. From the simplest “he got what he deserved,” to an intricate pattern in a horoscope or other psychic reading. I think we all believe in karma — on some level — or at least wish it were true. Because there are so many people who deserve a good kick in the ass for the terrible lives they have lived.

Shakespeare said (“Julius Caesar”):


“The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.”


I basically believe that we all reap what we sow. Whether or not we reap it in this life or in some other life yet to be lived is another matter. I’m not at all sure how I feel about the life-after-life concept. I like it in principle, but is it true? Real? Does it have anything to do with me or mine?

Is my Karma written in my chart? I don’t know. I never knew. The “psychic arts” have always been to much art and too little science for my fact-driven mind. Yet I also know that many things that happen to us in the course of our lives have no rational — scientific or mathematical or even logical — explanation. I have witnessed the inexplicable not once, but several times. I can’t cast off these events because I was there. They happened to me and they changed my life. So whenever I get too bound up in truth as fact, reality as science, I remember that I am not alive today because of science but rather because something completely without logic or science intervened.

What does that mean? I simply don’t know. I didn’t know at the time and I still don’t know. Something happened. It wasn’t a dream, it wasn’t drugs, it wasn’t hypnosis or delusion. It just happened. And why me? What have I done to deserve an extra shot (or three) at life when everything screamed “dead by morning”? The doctors didn’t know either. All they could say was “something happened” and send me home as quickly as they could lest something else — not so good — happen.

It does not seem to me that the best people get the best breaks or the worst people suffer the worst fates. The randomness of Karma — in all its manifestations — is what leaves me baffled by it. Evil people thrive and good people die young. What about the babies? The little ones who die in wars and accidents and plagues? Is that from a former life or are they being called to be part of a different life? I don’t have answers. I’m sure I never will.

We all want to believe in some kind of cosmic justice, in a fate linked to the quality of our life. But even when I’ve been give that “extra chance,” I never knew why I should be chosen. I was no better than anyone else and worse than many. I think on this one, we just get to wonder what it means … and what it means to us and ours.

CONTROLLING LIFE – FANDANGO’S PROVOCATIVE QUESTION #88

Fandango’s Provocative Question #88

Coming from an abusive home, I learned very early how little control I had over my life. All kids have essentially no control because children have no rights and an abused child has even fewer rights. The only control children get is the right to beg, nag, or excel at a sport or in school. An abused child lacks even those minimal protections because an unstable parent can react in any number of ways to children, many of them violent and terrifying.

I grew up and as soon as I could, I moved out and stayed out. Not surprisingly, I married early because abused children are usually looking for a stable life situation — and to no one’s surprise, these early marriages do not usually last. They get outgrown. But the point is, by then I already knew how little control I had over my life. I understood that under a cool exterior can lie violence and cruelty. Later, I learned that simple good health was not within my control. I think I’ve spent almost as much time in the hospital and in recovery from some surgery or other than almost anyone else I’ve ever known.

Control is an illusion. Control is what we are sure we have over our lives until — out of the blue — our life takes a turn, hits a big rock, and slides into a ditch. Crash. All your firm beliefs that nothing can stop you doesn’t help because there are things — many, many things — that will stop you dead in your tracks.

I really love it when people tell me how nothing can stop them. Whatever they want, they can get it. All they need is to want it enough and keep trying. I never argue with people who talk like that. They believe it and who am I to argue? Personally, I’ve hit a lot of rocks and ditches. I’ve had my “life vehicle” battered to wreckage. I learned, painfully and slowly, there’s a time to put down the reins, let go of the steering wheel. Take a long look in the mirror and face your reality. Not the reality you used to have, but the reality you have today. Now. The real reality you live even if you have always gotten what you want. There comes a time to give up trying to control your world and go with the flow. To roll with life.

There’s no moral to this story. It’s just life. The only thing you cannot plan is a life over which you have full control. No one gets that. We all have some control, but ultimately, no one has full control. Ever. When life throws you a curve, you have a choice. You can spend your time fighting for something you can’t be or do — or with a bit of grace, find your way to being whoever you are now, in this time and place. Not winning all the battles doesn’t have to be tragic. That is where you have control. You can view changes as a challenge or as a catastrophe. How you see them is up to you. Just don’t pretend the challenges aren’t there. That can be calamitous.

A real world is not the worst place to live. A human life is full of weirdness, lies, and illusion, but going face-to-face with the truth can be uplifting. You don’t have to give up living. You do have to learn to live a life that works. For you. Now. In this time and in this place.

THE TOWER STAIRS BY DARK OF NIGHT

Fandango’s Provocative Question #86: DREAMS BY NIGHT


This week, Fandango would like to know what was the weirdest dream we can remember and what do we think might have triggered it?

This was a real dream. I remember it because it was very clear and because its meaning was pretty obvious. It had to be at least fifty years ago since I was in my twenties. I dreamed I was in a tall tower with a long, spiraling staircase. I was supposed to climb all the way to the top. It being a dream, no further explanation was necessary, so I began to climb. The steps seemed to go on forever. Time is very warped in dreams, so for all I know, it might have taken a few minutes or even seconds.

I climbed and climbed. Finally, at last, I reached the top. There, at the very top of the tower was a steel door with a heavy iron lock and a sign which said:


“Room of Records. Sealed. No entry.”


To this day, I have a lot of missing memories. This could be just as well considering what I do remember isn’t heartening. Nonetheless, it was a long climb to a locked room. I don’t recall any follow-up dreams, so I’m guessing I never went into that room. I never got to see those records.

Maybe those were our Permanent Records? You know, the ones they threatened us with in school, as in: “This is going on your permanent record, young lady!” All those permanent records have to be somewhere, right?

TIME TRAVEL AND DECISION MAKING

Fandango’s Provocative Question #85: LIFE DECISIONS & TIME TRAVEL

Time travel is my favorite science fiction subject along with witchery and wizardry. There are rules about time travel and always have been. I actually had to look up the rules, to make sure I remembered them. I found two sets, one from 2009 and another from 2015.

Both of these sets of rules are typically found in tales of time travel. The whole concept of time travel is mentally paradoxical and if you really think about it, it’s quite unhinging. That’s why I like it. I love the wild and crazy way you have to think about traveling in time. It’s impossible, but don’t we wish we could do it anyway? There’s a great series of books by Jodi Taylor called “The Chronicles of St. Mary’s” where nutty historians travel in time to view actual historical events and record them so that people finally get to know what really happened. The books are exciting and frequently hilarious. I think the series is beginning to wind down, but if you’ve never read the books, you have a whole series you can read or listen to on Audiobooks. I listen to them. Actually, I listen to them often. I’ve listened to the entire series several times, and a new book just came out which I have only read once … and I know there’s another one due in December.

So, about Fandango’s question:

The answer is yes, but no. Of course I’ve made bad decisions. Some were really terrible and I will regret them forever. But (there’s always a “but”), for every bad decision, in some way my life was changed, ultimately for the better. Change was not immediate or even quickly. Decisions made as a teenager didn’t come home to roost until I was well into adulthood. Karma doesn’t work fast, but but grinds very fine. Moreover, context matters. It can be decades before you realize that the bad decision you made in 1979 has somehow morphed over the course of decades to a great life.

I know there is no such thing as time travel. Even if there were “real” time travel, it would be dangerous beyond imagining because if you change one thing or one little part of a past event, other things will change. You cannot know what the potential fallout could be. Read Stephen King’s “11/22/63” about time travel and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It’s a brilliant piece of writing and it’s not one of King’s creepy horror stories. It’s genuine science fiction. Beautifully written and sometimes, almost poetry.

I know this sounds more like a book report than an opinion, but I’m seriously into time travel stories. If there’s not time travel, then I’m opting for magic. One of the other, but both would be lovely.

So, speaking of time …

MY BEST-EVER JOB

Fandango’s Dog Days of August #30: MY BEST JOB EVER

I had been looking for a job that would let me flex my hours so Garry and I could spend time together. It was difficult. He worked terribly long hours, gone before the sun came up and not home until it was dark again. Ironic. Most people think reporters work “a few minutes a day” because that’s all they see on the news. Not true.To get those few minutes of finished news on the air, they drag themselves through every kind of weather — blizzards, hurricanes, bitter cold, unbearable heat — and endless traffic, from one end of the state to another. They are often on the scene of the worst imaginable horrors before the first responders arrive. They have to look good while doing it without a break for lunch or even a trip to the bathroom. Someone once commented it’s like being in the army, just without the uniform.

His days off were Wednesday and Thursday. That meant we had barely a few minutes after work to meet and greet each other. Everything else waited until vacation. By which time Garry was exhausted and needed two weeks of sleep to recuperate so he could go back to work again.

The good part of his job? He loved it. I think everyone in the news business is an adrenaline junkie. The thrill of getting the scoop, tracking down the story, coming up with a different angle on something every other station is also doing and sometimes, finding new information to crack open a case. Garry loved his work. He didn’t love every single moment of it, but he loved most of it, loved knowing he could make a difference, shine a light into a dark corner and fix something that had been broken. When I married him, I married his work. No whining about him missing all the family events, never being around to help with the housework or the shopping. I knew from the get-go I’d be keeping his dinner warm for whenever he got home. That was the deal we made. We didn’t spell it out, but we both understood. We were social equals, but his job came first. Period. End of story.

One day, I got a call. A large HMO was looking for a technical writer to put together documents for their various computer programs. Aimed at users, this was entry-level stuff. For me, used to working on really complex software, it was a piece of cake — with icing. I went to the interview. Bad news? It was a part-time job, paying a retainer. I would be paid for 20 hours a week at $25 an hour, which was less than my usual rate.

The good news? It was a retainer. All the freelancers out there know there’s nothing better than a retainer. I might work all 20 hours, or no hours, depending on what was going on. I would not be required to go into an office. Ever. I would work from home or wherever I and my computer might be, including the back porch of the summer-house on the Vineyard. It was half the money I’d been earning, but I could take freelance gigs to make up the gap.

I took the job. This was a gift from Heaven. I figured I’d be working most of the 20 hours. It turned out, there wasn’t any work. Or almost none. Weeks and months went by. I would call to find out if maybe they’d forgotten me and didn’t they want me to do something? No, everything was fine, they said. No problem. We’ll call you. Once in long while, they did call and for a few days, I worked. It was almost a relief. Even though it was writing I could do in my sleep. For five years, I got a steady paycheck for which I did essentially nothing. I did a bit of free-lance stuff here and there and was obliged to bring a laptop with me when I went on vacation, just in case someone needed me. I was getting paid for free.

One day, I picked up the Boston Globe and discovered the division for which I worked was being disbanded. Apparently someone noticed that no one in the department actually worked. So I called my boss, Anita.

“Anita,” I said. “I was reading the Globe this morning. Does this mean I have to look for a new job?”

“Yes,” she sighed. “We all do. But you’ve got three or four months, so you should be fine.”

I couldn’t believe it. They were taking away the best job in the world. I was going to have to go to work, show up at an office. I would have to stay there all day. What an awful thought! I went job hunting and found what would turn out to the best real job I ever had. Wonderful colleagues and a great boss, but it was work. I had to think a lot. It was like getting a masters in advanced database building using object linking. After I synthesized what I needed to know, I then had to use that knowledge to write and design documents. I was back to meeting deadlines. My 5-year paid vacation had not eliminated my skills. I was as good as ever.

I was spoiled.

Never again would I feel comfortable working a 9 to 5 job although I worked them for twenty more years. I got terribly restless. Merely having to be in one location for all those hours made me twitch. I got my work done and done well, but I wanted my freedom back. I wouldn’t get it until I retired and that was a long time in the future.

I was ruined for the real world.

ALWAYS AUTUMN

Fandango’s Dog Days of August #28: LOVING AUTUMN


New England has always been the best place in the world to see the colors of Autumn. We have always had “bad” autumnal years. There can be too much rain or an early snow in September or early October. A hurricane or serious nor’easter can blow the autumn leaves from the trees or wash them away.

The Blackstone River in the fall

The region which we live is usually the best place among many great places in New England, probably because we have more than 70% trees. Also, there is the beautiful Blackstone River and its tributaries running through it. Twisting and turning from it’s birth up in the Worcester hills until it exits into the ocean in Rhode Island.

The canal is most prolifically covered with fallen leaves
Stone bridge over the river and canal in Autumn

For the past two years, we’ve barely had any kind of autumn. It stayed warm so late into the year, the leaves just turned brown and fell off. In 2018, we got about three days of autumn and last year, we got one day. Maybe it was a day and a half. I love autumn for its colors and the crisp, cool weather. I would like fall back again. I want the season. Even a couple of weeks. Please?

#FDDA – Dog Days of August

DOES THE CHARACTER MATCH THE IMAGE IN THE BOOK?

Fandango’s Provocative Question #84


I’ve got a four answers here and really, there should be more. I’ve put them in order of their dates of release.

The Haunting is a 1963 British horror film directed and produced by Robert Wise and adapted by Nelson Gidding from the 1959 novel The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. It stars Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, and Russ Tamblyn. The film depicts the experiences of a small group of people invited by a paranormal investigator to investigate a purportedly haunted house.

This is one of those amazing movies where it might even be better than the book. Julie Harris and Claire Bloom are perfect. The house — which is definitely one of the characters — is perfect. It manages to to genuinely horrifying without special effects and while sticking to the novella both in character, mood, and concept. If you haven’t seen it, please see it. It also shows you why black and white is sometimes exactly the right combination for a movie!

The Lion in Winter is a 1968 British historical drama film set around the Christmas of 1183, about political and personal turmoil among the royal family of Henry II of England, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, their children, and their guests. It is based on the 1966 Broadway play of the same name by James Goldman.

I’m not sure if this counts since it wasn’t a book, but was a stage play. Nonetheless, I can’t even think of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine without seeing this movie in my head. I didn’t “read the book,” but I sure did read the history!

The Three and Four Musketeers – The 1973 hit and its sequel were filmed as a single film which really pissed off the cast. They sued,the studio lost and the caste was paid for both movies. This delayed the release of both movies. This light-hearted (except when it wasn’t) version of the Dumas swashbuckler has the four swordsman doing battle with the devious Cardinal Richelieu and his evil accomplice Milady de Winter, determined to wreak havoc on the French monarchy.

It starred Michael York, Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain, and Frank Finlay. Release date: February 26, 1975 (USA) Directed by Richard Lester; Story by: Alexandre Dumas, screenplay, George MacDonald Fraser. I loved this movies so much I went to see it four times in it’s opening week.

Little Women, the 1994 version of the movie was and is a gem. It starred Winona Ryder as Jo March, Trini Alvarado Trini Alvarado as Meg March, Samantha Mathis as the older Amy March, Kirsten Dunst as the younger Amy March, Claire Danes as Beth March, Christian Bale as Laurie, Eric Stoltz as John Brooke, John Neville as Mr. Laurence, Mary Wickes as Aunt March, and Susan Sarandon as Mrs. March.

Considering how frequently this movie has been made and remade, this particular version is a pearl amidst pebbles. It captures the characters and essence of the book and not just the look and feel of the characters. I loved it and watch it whenever it is on TV … and of course I have it on DVD.

The Lord of the Rings was a series of three films (the book was also published in three volumes) shot in New Zealand by Peter Jackson.The three epic fantasy films were based on the novel written by J. R. R. Tolkien. The films are subtitled The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King.

The caste is much too long to list here, but I think they nailed it, They looked right, they felt right. I loved it when it came out. I still love it. And I read the book at least half a dozen times over the decades.


I should mention that there have been quite a number of history-based movies where the character characterizations were brilliant.

And now, to a couple of the worst-cast movies. In this category, there are so many, I don’t even know where to start. The earliest “talkie” version of Little Women was so badly miscast I can’t watch it. Fine actresses, badly cast. Embarrassingly miscast. All the supposed girls were full-grown women and looked it. AWFUL.

I’m with Di, at Pensitivity101 who wrote, “I know I’ve said it umpteen times, but casting Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher lost all credibility for me.” If you read the book, Jack Reacher was a big brawny bruiser of a guy and Tom Cruise looks NOTHING like him in any way at all. I know that Tom bought the rights so he got to play the role, but he really shouldn’t have. He should have had some generosity of spirit and given the role to someone else. That, however, is not Tom Cruise’s style.

Most of the movies I’ve seem seem to choose the characters more on the star’s popularity than by their resemblance to the character in the book. Sometimes, if I haven’t read the book, I have no preconception and I don’t notice, but if I have already read the book  — especially if I’ve listened to the book on audiobooks — I have a very strong idea what they look like. Sometimes I reject even the audio version because it doesn’t go with the character either. These day, most of the movies I watch are relatively old since we almost never went to the movies — and now, obviously, don’t go at all.

Garry’s contribution is the Stephen King time-travel story about JFK 11/22/63. It was particularly appalling because the book was brilliant. Overall, we are not Stephen King fans. This is not because he’s not a great writer because he is, but because he writes horror stories which generally, we don’t like. With a few exceptions. Most science fiction is not done very well no matter who wrote it or whether it’s written for movies or TV.

Oh, right. I should mention there was an absolutely appalling version of “The Scarlet Letter” in which not only were the characters nothing like the characters in the book, but the script bore little resemblance to the book either. Mostly, unless you’ve gotten a review from someone you know whose taste you trust, skip the movie. Read the book.

A NEW EDITOR AND A LOT OF QUESTIONS ABOUT US AND OUR TECHNOLOGY

Fandango’s Provocative Question #83: Who’s controlling what?

One of the big issues with WordPress’s decision to create a kind of block format that is very unappealing to most of us who aren’t here to make money but joined to show off our art, write about issues that matter, display pictures … the artists rather than the money-makers. I’m sure that a lot of us would happily at this stage hop to another platform … but what platform? Medium? They don’t sound like like they would welcome my freewheeling style. Blogger? Has anyone ever gotten a dialogue going on Blogger? I couldn’t. Eventually, I simply gave up. So Fandango’s question is simple and basic:

I think the answer is really that technology controls us. I wish it weren’t true. I don’t want it to be true, but it is. Without WiFi, there’s little I can accomplish. My bank is never open. Everything happens electronically by cell phone and computer. We live in a small town where shopping is limited. There is, for example, no camera store. If I need a lens, I have to buy it online. It’s hard to even find a contractor to do work we need to do. There isn’t much work, but we are a little too far from Boston to commute … and who in their right mind would want to commute to Boston?

These days, WiFi is not a luxury. It’s a utility controlled as a monopoly by whatever town you live in. We don’t have any choice but Charter and they can charge whatever they want since they have no competition. And, because we are a low-density population, other companies aren’t exactly fighting each other to come here and open businesses.

What we have is a lot of natural beauty, the winding Blackstone River and its tributaries, a long history dating back to the early 1600s … and WiFi for everything else. So yes, we are controlled by our technology. Sometimes it’s a marvel. Other times, you just need one long downtime of your cable and suddenly, you feel helpless. Your computer breaks and panic ensues. Your cell phone bites the big one and you literally don’t know how you’ll get through another day.

Yes, we are controlled by our technology, especially right now when we are living in a plague-ridden environment.

What can we do to change it? I don’t know. Nothing right now, but maybe in the future we’ll discover other ways of living. I know I didn’t grow up owned by technology, yet over the decades, I’ve rolled right into it. Haven’t we all?

I HATE THE NATION WE HAVE BECOME

Fandango’s Dog Days of August #19: HATE

I hate the country we have become. I hate what 45 has done to us. I hate this world that is not even a shadow of the America in which I grew up … in which Garry grew up. Did we have problems? Sure we did and some of the results of those problems are worse from never having been properly addressed in the past. But still, we had at the very least a national striving to be better. To find problems and make an effort to fix them. Did we succeed? Sometimes. Often not, but once in a while we hit a homer right out of the park.

Now, I want that spirit back. The intention to care, the willingness to do good. The sense that no matter how wrong-headed the president or other politicians can be, they nonetheless genuinely care about this nation, care for their constituents. They are patriots. We might not agree with them, but we know they are Americans and would never collude with a foreign power. Instead, we have a government which cares for no one and nothing except, I suppose, power and money. Greed and corruption. It’s shocking, humiliating, and shameful. I often wake up wondering how I wound up living in this terrible place. It’s an awful feeling.

I hate what has happened to us and I hope we can redress this horror show in November. I hope our military understands they may be called upon to carry him out of the White House in shackles, if necessary. I hope that other powerful people are committed to our constitution and protection of our rights. As they keep saying in the convention we are watching:


VOTE AS IF YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT. BECAUSE YOUR LIFE DOES DEPEND ON IT.  ALL OUR LIVES & YOUR CHILDREN’S LIVES DEPEND ON IT.