BEFORE VIDEO THERE WAS FILM – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Video  and Ragtag Tuesday: Past

Garry should be telling this story because it’s his story, not mine. But since he’s busy elsewhere, I’ll tell the story — as I’ve heard it — and maybe he can write a better version later.

Garry started working in the business — television — before the switch from film to videotape was made — and he left the business just before everything went to DVDs, flash and SD cards, and hard drives. He was working at the end of the movie era through the early years of video when it was the “new kid in town. ”

He remembers the horrors of forgetting to load the camera and shooting only to come back with nothing. Not unlike me forgetting to paste down the full-page color advertisement from Sony that belonged in the middle of the magazine I was editing. Ah, the good old days of being young and stupid.

Or misfeeding the film into the camera and being unable to get it to run. Garry remembers racing back to the office so they could develop the film, edit it, and get it up in time for the news. Ah, more of the good old days!

Movie set

Film was touchier than videotape. If the light was wrong, it ran too hot or green. When it rolled, you wanted to hide under a table somewhere. Even though you didn’t do the shooting, it was still your work and when it was blazing orange or glaringly green, it was painful to see.

On screen, video looks different than film. Sometimes you see shows where parts are filmed and the rest is on video. You can always see the change from one scene to the other.

Film looks different than video. It’s both the texture and luster and crispness.  It’s hard to describe the difference, but you know it when you see it.

Film is also a sturdier product and lasts longer, which is why movies are shot on film, not video. Video tends to self-destruct over time and not a lot of time, either. We didn’t get our wedding video transferred to DVD soon enough. We lost a lot of the graphic portions. We were able to save the soundtrack, but a lot of pictures couldn’t be salvaged.

Thus, here is the message for all of you old enough to have videotaped important past events in your lives: Get the video transferred to DVD or you’ll lose it. If you haven’t already lost it.

PARODY TRA LA, DUM DE DUM DE DUM DUM … – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Parody


What is nearly tragic is even though these were written more than 50 years ago, they are maybe even more relevant now. We don’t learn easily, do we?

And who better than Tom Lehrer?

And finally, there’s Monty Python: “”What have you got to lose, y’know? You come from nothing, you go back to nothing. What’ve you lost? Nothing!”

 

 

I NEED A GUIDE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Guide


I do not need a caretaker, though lord knows I would certainly like someone to clean my house and also, please, cook dinner!

I need someone to guide me through what I need to do each day. Remind me what day it is. If I have an appointment. Where the appointment is. Make sure I remember to take the GPS or printed directions — or both. The GPS is a fine idea, but around these exurban spaces, it gets wonky. It sends us on bizarre excursions down woodland trails that haven’t been used since pre-Colonial days. I don’t know where it gets its mapping information.

The iPad mini 4

All the GPS’s seem to be made in Germany, so maybe that’s the problem.

I need someone to remind me whether or not I took my medication today. Or was that yesterday?

I used to have a memory that took care of all this. When that began to get overloaded, I got a PDA — a cell phone without the phone or internet. It was essentially an electronic datebook. I used mine all the time for keeping my schedule and reminding me what else needed doing. When I was working, there were a lot of things on my agenda.

Garry’s standard iPad

One day, my PDA batteries died and the entire memory left with it. Because it was my single source for everything, I developed a certain bitter feeling towards depending entirely on electronic connections.

Still, Garry and I were the first cell phone users I know. Garry was always somewhere in the middle of who-knows-where doing a story about something or other and I worked miles away, often in another state.

Phones

One of my first gifts to him was a giant brick telephone. They must have had one hell of a signal because Garry could call me from anywhere and ALWAYS get me. That battery lasted three or four days before needing to recharge.

It weighed about 5-pounds. When the Blackberry came out, we switched to them. Even Garry loved that Blackberry. It had a little keyboard and he wrote all his email on it. It had a good, clear sound for telephone calls and it worked. It was stable, strong and did exactly what it promised.

Somehow, we got snookered out of the Blackberries. They were going out of business and there wasn’t a choice, but neither of us loved a cell phone after that.

I’m okay when I have to use the Samsung we’ve got, but it’s just an emergency phone. I will never pick it up voluntarily. It has mediocre sound and I make phone calls.

I don’t text. My thumbs are the wrong shape.

I don’t write lists on it, either. We write lists on pieces of paper. With pens. Even in the grocery store where there’s barely a signal, that piece of paper works fantastically well. I should point out that we live in a river valley and our reception is pretty pathetic. Usually, now that the cell connects to WiFi, we can call out, but it’s pretty hard for anyone to call in. Especially other people who also live in a river valley — which is actually almost everyone I know.

On the other hand, if I had a guide, I wouldn’t have any excuse for forgetting everything for an entire week, then having to call everyone whose appointment I missed and remake the appointment.

I often wonder if my forgetting nearly everything isn’t my way of coping with a world that’s spinning out of control. The weather, the climate, the politics. Even this blog is crazy-time.

And then, there’s email. I clear out all the email I haven’t managed to get to on the day it arrives, usually about 250 items (depending on the volume of political and news mailings) and when I get up the next morning, there are another few hundred.

I think I need another me to remind me to be me.

WITHOUT A TRACE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Trace


I have lost people that were important to me. I don’t mean they died, though I suppose they could have. They have simply vanished. They have no presence on social media or in any of the look-ups on the internet. They are gone.

They aren’t doing anything illegal, at least not as far as I know and I doubt they are hiding from Interpol or the FBI. They have just vanished, or as the television show put it, “Without a Trace.”

Periodically I try to look them up. I don’t necessarily even want to talk to them. It has been a lot of years. I doubt I have much to say. I merely want to know if they are okay.

But they are gone. With all of the intense social media everywhere, some people drop off the edge of the world. Perhaps that is what they wanted, for whatever reason.

For me, they are missing, without a trace.

DANGER! THE OAK LEAVES HAVE FORMED AN ARMY! – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Danger


There are so many leaves on the ground here, it’s hard to explain to people who don’t live in the middle of an oak woods. When I was outside today taking pictures, it was like being in a leaf storm.

If the wizards drop by and turn them into soldiers, I shall have an army of millions at my beck and call.

Chairs with leaves

Watch out DC! The oak leaves are marching and they will take you out.

NO REPRESSION! VOTE! – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Repress


In a few minutes, we are out of here to go vote. I hope that’s what you are doing today, too. No repression in Massachusetts. We aren’t that kind of state. But wherever you are, don’t let them stop you.

Your job is to be a citizen and VOTE. Please vote. Today!

OVER AND OVER AND OVER – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Over


I have always loved flying.

I never went sky-diving (Garry did and I envied him … and wondered how in the world he managed to actually jump out of that plane into the air), but I did go gliding. Twice. I loved flying in small planes and I was lucky enough to have two good friends who flew and took me with them. One of them got permission to fly very close to the ground so I could fly 500 feet over my house and wave to my flowers.

I discovered that when you fly in a small airplane, no matter how hot it is on the ground, at 10,000 feet, you really wish you were wearing insulated shoes. I learned I was too short to see over the dashboard of a Cessna, so if I took up flying, I would have to do it entirely using instruments.

I got to be “co-pilot” on all these little flights and discovered my main job was to “look for airplanes.” With all the technology involved in flying, planes, especially small planes without flight plans, hit each other.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

When you are looking for other planes, you have to look up, and to both sides. I couldn’t look down. I was too short but I discovered the world had more directions than I ever imagined.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

My cousin Roberta lived in northern Virginia, right outside of DC. From when I was 9 or maybe 10, I used to fly there and back. Alone. That was before they made you wear special badges or anything. You just got on the plane, sat in your seat. Up in the air and half an hour later, descending again. Seeing tiny people get bigger and bigger until they were full-sized and the plane bumped to a stop.

Watching all those cars travel at high speeds through the most astonishingly complex intersections and mostly, don’t hit each other. It’s like an enormous dance done on the roads.

When Garry and I were courting, I hadn’t yet gotten a job in Massachusetts. Most weekends, Garry drove to New York and stayed with me, but sometimes, he’d buy me a ticket. I’d fly from La Guardia to Logan. Once, I was due in at 6 pm. We took off a little late and minutes later, the plane was hit by lightning. Twice. There was only one working engine.

Nobody talked. We just listened to silence, followed by the wail of the engine as it lifted the plane. One of the passengers was a pilot, probably going home to Boston. Everyone watched him, holding our collective breaths, wondering if we were going to land or crash.

We landed. Garry picked me up and started to complain I was late and he’d had to circle the airport a dozen times waiting for my plane to show up. I pointed out that I wasn’t sure I was going to get there alive, so he should be saying “Oh glory, you’re here and alive!” and after that, he fed me lobster for three days straight. I deserved every piece of lobster, not to mention one fabulous North End Italian dinner.

Photo: Garry Armstrong –

I don’t know exactly when the fun went out of flying. When airports went from being inconvenient and ugly and became houses of torment. When airline seats went from being small to being torturous. When all the little niceties of flying disappeared and then they wonder why people try not to fly if they have any other choice.

Unfortunately, our rail infrastructure has been neither maintained nor expanded. For example, you can’t take a train from Boston to Arizona. There are many areas where the tracks are not functional. Not only can you not take the train from point A to point C, but you have to detrain with all your luggage, take a bus, get another train which may or may not have the same seats or type of seats … all while juggling your luggage. You may need to do this several times and it will take days rather than hours.

I was still willing to give it a try until I read the notice that the train would not provide assistance with transferring luggage. I gave up.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

So if you are traveling a long distance, unless you are still young enough to like driving all day — and there was a time when I thought driving was fun — you can fly or stay home. Given one thing and another, we stay home. Mostly.

It doesn’t mean we’ll never fly again. I think now that Garry can hear better, we might fly somewhere, sometime, someday. England or Australia or New Zealand or the south of France. Paris or Tokyo. Who knows?

Meanwhile, a dozen or more Chickadees have discovered our bird feeder and they fly up and over and around it.