BOLD YET MAKESHIFT – Marilyn Armstrong

Bold yet Makeshift  –  Plans Go Awry!

There on the rocky outcropping of the tiny island in the middle of the great waters, the two young ladies sat upon the shore. They had labored long and hard to create the great raft that would carry them to land. To civilization and a new world.

“Are you ready?” asked Carol.

“I’m ready,” declared her determined companion.

Dressed in filthy rags that mere hours ago had been clean, pressed play clothing, they pushed the raft into the waters — when they heard the fateful calling.

“Oh no!” cried Carol. But there was no mistaking it. It was Mom. “It must be lunchtime,” she moaned. “Now we’ll NEVER get it launched.”

Thus the launching of the craft was left for yet one more day. All they could do was hope the water in the deepest puddle in the neighborhood would remain one more day lest they have to add wheels to the  … well … whatever it was.

Raft, flotation device, or something else. They had built it from scraps and pieces of old crates. Somehow, it had held together, but they doubted it would hold together very long. Lunch might be too long for all they knew.

But the call had come and they had to go. You had to heed that call or dreadful things might happen. Dreadful things that might last well into the dark of evening!

And so homeward they trudged. Another hard day’s work lost to the calling of home. Their bold yet makeshift traveling device set aside for one more day …

Bold yet makeshift

THE CURSED SCRIPT – BY ELLIN CURLEY

Tom and I wrote a script for our audio theater group a few years ago about a serial killer – and it has nearly killed us. We have had numerous trials related to this script and have yet to finalize it or perform it.

We were supposed to perform it, in its original form, at an Audio Festival in Kansas City, Missouri. However, teenagers were performing there too so we were told that our content had to be ‘family friendly’, which apparently meant no serial killers. Guess what the piece the teenagers wrote and performed was about? You guessed it!

A serial killer!

Tom and me in 2016

The next snafu with this script came when we tried to record it, as we do with all our pieces. We take the actors’ track and add music and sound effects as necessary and put the finished recording up on our website.

The recording also gives the actors a chance to hear a fully produced version as the audience hears it. We usually all get together in our basement studio and read through the piece exactly as it will be performed.

Barbara Rosenblat recording in our studio

However, with this script, there were scheduling problems with the actors so we had to record it piecemeal – with one or two actors recording their individual parts with someone just feeding them cues. This is how they record voices for animated movies but not how we work.

The piece never fully came together as a dramatic play because the actors weren’t acting with each other as they would be on stage. Acting ‘against’ each other adds dimension and depth to each actor’s performance and to the scene as a whole.

Sande Sherr performing at our house

It also made it exponentially harder for Tom to edit together a cohesive piece from everyone’s multiple, solo takes. It took Tom six months to pull the individual performances together into a finished, albeit inferior, product.

Tom recording in our basement studio

A year later, the group finally revisited the audio version of the piece and decided that it needed to be shortened and rewritten in parts. At this point, Tom and I were pretty much ‘over’ this script and couldn’t see how to improve it.

But we mulled it over and suddenly a light bulb went off. We cut out a few scenes at the start, shortened a very long scene at the end, and toned down an over-the-top main character. Once we tweak some of the dialogue and create an interesting montage for the beginning of the play, we’ll be ready to present it to the group. Again.

First page of the cursed script

We have no idea whether we will ever perform this piece or whether we will just shelve it along with other not ready for prime time scripts we’ve written over the years.

Tom and I are so jaundiced about this script that we won’t be too upset if we end up scrapping it. After all, we’ve been through with this one, I think our attitude would be R.I.P. Some things are just not meant to be. But you never know.

SHORT DIVISION – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Division

“Mom?”

“Yes. son?”

“We’re learning long division in school. I hate it. What’s short division? Maybe I would like short division better?”

“Son,” she answered, “Short division is what you can do with the fingers of one hand using just five fingers. If it doesn’t fit on five fingers, you will need medium division which uses two hands — ten fingers — after which it becomes long division for which you need a pencil and paper. At this stage, I use the calculator and a computer.”

“Oh,” he said. “Thanks.”

“And son?”

“Yes?”

“If it gets even more complicated? There’s always Google. Never forget Google.”

“You’re a real pal, Mom.”

“I know, kid.”

NOBODY PROMISED LIFE WOULD BE FAIR – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Word Prompt – Fairness

No one promised me that life would be fair. Quite the opposite. My mother was a total cynic. Born in 1910, her earliest memories were of living through World War I which she always referred to as “The Great War,” and then living through World War II, which was simply “The Holocaust.”

She didn’t believe in God because how could any God allow such atrocities to occur to his people. She didn’t trust government because even when they sometimes did honorable things, behind locked doors they made dishonorable deals. She was convinced that they intentionally failed to blow up the Nazi concentration camp crematorium and gas chambers because they were good old rich white men and were happy that Hitler was getting rid of those annoying Jews.

She remembered how in the middle of the depression when there was more food than could be sold because people were desperately poor, the government put surplus food in empty lots and poured poison on it so no one could eat it. I heard this was a rumor, but she said it was true. She had seen it.

She knew that the U.S. had refused to let Jews desperate to escape from Germany enter the United States and many of them had died in ships that sank in the Atlantic, in view of the Statue of Liberty. She remembered the jailing of Japanese American citizens during the war and the destruction of Native Americans.

She despised the Catholic church because, she said, they were a bunch of pedophiles, something that proved true eventually.

Lady Justice – Old Bailey, London

She wanted me to get a nose job so I wouldn’t look “so Jewish.” She never trusted the government, always expected it to turn on us. I think she always had a bag packed in case she had to run.

So I never thought the world would be fair. But I also didn’t think it would be this ugly. I thought if we tried really hard we could make it better. That we could fix some of the broken pieces. That I could fix some of the broken pieces myself.

I was wrong but I tried.

Maybe someday we will succeed. May my granddaughter’s children — should she have any — will make things better.

No one told me to expect life would be fair. I always knew rich people would get the best “stuff” and the rest of us would get whatever was left over. It never crossed my mind that we were all genuinely “equal.”

We are all equal. Just some of us are more equal than others.

Those few times when life has gone well and things have seemed fair and evenhanded, it has been a huge surprise. It would be nice if there were more surprises to come, but I’m not holding my breath.

MYSTERY OF THE DUKE – Marilyn Armstrong

The Duke is one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever had. Not as smart as Tinker the Thinker. She was human in a dog suit. But maybe he is smarter in a different way.

Duke does what he pleases. He goes where he decides to go. He can jump all of our fences, break down doors and his desire to be our only dog has not diminished.

So the other day, Garry was outside, trying to get the hardened ice off the driveway and build a place to put the trash and recycling bins. He looked up into the window and there was the face of the Duke smiling down at him. From the window in my office.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

My office isn’t my office anymore. It has become the room where we put things that we use sometimes, but not all the time. The Christmas tree is in there all wrapped in plastic as are the two big wooden nutcrackers.

Red Finch atop Toad

The printer, router, and cable box, which the guy from Charter didn’t take with him. I think we need it anyway because it’s where we hook up the router. Which is how we send signals to the devices which use wi-fi. Computers, Kindles, iPads, and all that. Of course the two televisions. And an extra fold-up bed for a guest who might wander in from the cold.

The Duke was in that room. At the window. Smiling down at Garry.

Later that evening, in bed, Garry told me he’d seen the Duke peering out of the office window. I asked him if he’d closed the door to the office since Duke must have pushed the door open in to get to the window.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Garry said he hadn’t closed it because when he came in, the office door was closed. I said I hadn’t closed it either. In fact, had not been in that room at all that day.

So … who closed the door? The door has a standard round doorknob and opens inward, as do all the doors in the house. He could push it closed from in the room, but to close it? He would have to have pulled it closed from the hallway using the doorknob.

Doorknob

Doorknob? He doesn’t have hands. He has no thumbs.

So how did he close the door? Any explanation will do. I’ve known a few dogs who could close a gate, but never one who could close a door using a round doorknob.

Have you?

A DAY FOR SHARING OF THE WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

World Sharing – SYW 3-11-19


I was feeling distinctly grouchy this morning. It is my 72nd birthday. My mother never made it this far, so I figure I’m already ahead of the game. From here on in, it’s extra innings.

I wanted to sleep late. I wanted a day off. I wanted …

The dogs were barking at 5, so I got up and gave them a cookie — and went back to bed. They barked a little more, then finally shut up. I thought I was home free, but then the phone rang. After which someone else called, and finally, one more call. These were real people, so I had to answer the calls. After each call, I drifted back to sleep, but after the final call, I realized it was futile.

No rest for the wicked.


QUESTIONS:


If you don’t think Heaven nor God exists, you might want to answer by saying something outrageous, just for fun!

And the great, deep, booming voice says: “Welcome, Marilyn. In this place, you will NEVER have to cook another meal. Ever. Unless you want to. We have our own chef who also cleans up!”

Thrown out of Heaven for the sin of pride. That first step is a long one.

And I say: “Wow. This really IS heaven!”

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

No coffee in the morning.

What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?

I’m never alone in my car.

How would you rate your memory? 

According to my neurologist, it’s fine. According to me, I want to know why I’m in the kitchen. At least I always know why I’m in the bathroom. That’s something.

What’s one song that always cheers you up, no matter how blue you’re feeling?

Pancho and Lefty. Something about the melody, the very cool lyrics — and that I think it would make a great movie.

CHECKING OUT? – Marilyn Armstrong

bz-twitter_09-23-13

Welcome to Bizarro!

I just bought another one of his books.
Whenever I need a laugh, it’s waiting for me.


I was amused to realize that the website he gave up on was WordPress, but it wouldn’t load or it loaded too slowly for anyone … so between when I wrote this (like two days ago?) and today, he swapped sites. No longer WP. He also has space on Facebook and Twitter. These are hard days for cartoonists with so few newspapers being published.