REALLY THE PAST – Marilyn Armstrong

Trevor Noah did a long spiel on “adult summer camp” on “The Daily Show” which left Garry puzzled. He went to summer camp. He even liked it. I never had the chance, but I think I’ve gotten over my resentment. It was a long time ago.

Garry wanted to know why grownups — adults — would want to do that stuff?

I said that some people don’t actually have a clear understanding that the past as a memory is not the same thing as reliving it. Like this town where they are so determined to go back to a period in time that — especially for this town and valley — sucked.

It was a bad time. All the mills and factories closed their doors, then moved south. They left the river a stinking waste of hazardous gunk and everyone out of work. Half the population left because there was no work. The other half sunk into poverty. The train no longer stopped here and the buses no longer ran.

Why would you want to go back to that?

For that matter, why would an adult want to go back to doing arts and crafts and sleeping in cabins with mosquitoes?

We all want to get away. For this purpose, we have books and movies. And memories.

I loved the late 1960s, with 1969 officially my best year. Why? We had men walking on the moon and Woodstock. The Mets won the World Series and my son was born. All my parts worked. I was 22 years old, I had my first camera. I wore rose-tinted eyeglasses and bell-bottom jeans. It was an exciting time politically, socially … and I was young with a whole life ahead of me.

At 22, that world was mine and I loved it. We took drugs and the music was great. If I took one of those drugs now, I’d die. Immediately. Boom, gone, finished. Garry has fond memories from childhood, but that doesn’t mean he wants to be a child.

It would be especially awful going back because I would know that all the progress I thought we were making was going to turn out to be a sack of trash 50 years later.

We all want an interval in a different time. That’s why Garry watches old movies and I read time travel novels. I also understand this is entertainment.

And that is all it is.

AMERICA’S OBSESSION WITH SEXUALITY – BY ELLIN CURLEY

There is a vocal segment in America that seems to spend most of their time and energy preoccupied with other people’s sex lives and reproductive practices. The issues that make their blood boil have to do with sex education in schools (a no-no except for abstinence), contraceptives and abortion, gay rights and now transgender bathroom use. This last one is a horrifying mixture of anatomical, sexual and scatological prurience!

I’m not the first to find this disturbing. Sex and reproduction (and going to the bathroom) should be the most private parts of our lives. My question is why is this a predominantly American obsession?

Western Europe (and Japan ) seem to have a much more relaxed approach to all things sexual. I remember my shock at watching TV in England and Europe for the first time, as long as 30 years ago. Nudity is common in prime time and on mainstream networks. Graphic depictions of sex (with the concomitant nudity) are also common. So are open discussions of sex, sex toys, sexual preferences, etc. on talk shows and news shows.

Sex is considered a normal part of everyday life and sexual preferences are considered to be varied and generally acceptable. In Poland, all public bathrooms are unisex, shared comfortably by men and women, just like bathrooms in private homes.

So what separates us from the rest of the civilized world on this issue? I believe it’s the Puritans. England considered the strict anti-sex and anti-pleasure platform of the Puritans to be totally whackadoodle! They were marginalized and discriminated against, even by English Catholics. (Remember from the series “The Borgias”, in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, even Popes were married, had mistresses and openly had children out-of-wedlock).

The discrimination of the Puritans in England caused them to leave in droves and start a new society in a new world, in their image. I don’t think America has ever shaken these rigid and repressive beginnings.

Maybe after another generation or two of naked selfies and crotch shots, Americans will stop preaching repression, shame, and judgment regarding any form of sexual expression. Or are we heading way too far into the TMI zone? Time will tell.

“SAN ANDREAS FAULT” – THE MOVIE WHERE EVERYTHING HAPPENS – Marilyn Armstrong

Last night, tired of the endless depressing, appalling, horrible news from around the world, Garry played a movie he had previously recorded.

San Andreas Fault is not merely a disaster film. It is every disaster film you have ever seen in one film. It’s earthquakes that will turn Kansas into the Pacific beach capital of the nation. It’s crashing buildings, towering infernos, the hugest omigod tsunamis. We get to see the bravest heroes and most craven cowardice.

It’s all there.

The crashing bridge

Every cliché from every disaster movie made in this and the previous century includes a lot of movies.  Worse, I’m pretty sure we’ve seen all of them, but we’d never seen this one before.

I think it was originally filmed in 3D. Everyone said it was drivel, but it made more than $300,000 million at the box office, so clearly drivel sells well.

Crashing cruise ship

It certainly sold well at our house last night. When the intended second husband of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson‘s wife (Carla Gugino)  played by Ioan Gruffudd (aka “The Asshole”) abandons Rock’s daughter to her fate, trapped under fallen cement in a parking garage, it’s no less than you expect from the cowardly CEO of a major corporation.

Hollywood crashing

We know they are cowards because … well …that’s what they always do in the movies, right? Have you ever seen a brave, manly CEO stand up to anyone or anything outside a boardroom? Especially when they are trying to marry the hero’s ex-wife who we all know should be with the hero.

Even though The Hero can’t utter a coherent sentence (and probably hasn’t since he came back from The War (insert name of war here), he’s a hero (with medals to prove it) and would never run, not even when a million tons of water and a complete cruise ship is about to fall on his head.

The Rock watching everything crash

So. Finally. The family reconnects. The entire west coast is smoldering ruins covered by about half the Pacific Ocean. There isn’t a bridge, a building … nothing. Total, absolute devastation everywhere.

Garry is giggling to himself.  Because he knows. I know. We both know. It’s coming.

The Rock, arm around his wife, his daughter saved, is gazing over the wreckage of the world and Garry murmurs … “Now, we rebuild.”

Beat. Beat. Beat. Pause.

And THEN The Rock says: “Now, we rebuild.”

Garry collapsed into laughter. The last time he laughed that much was when Trevor Noah had Ben Carson on the show and Trevor did a better Ben Carson than Ben Carson. Garry was still howling while the credits rolled.

A perfect ending.

san-andreas-fault-with-dwayne-the-rock-johnson-000

We’d seen the world end. We’d see the best, the bravest. The worst. We’d seen the most depraved cowardice imaginable and in HD wide-screen.

But now, we rebuild. We have to rebuild … because … SAN ANDREAS 2 is coming! As the headline says, this will finally allow The Rock (who no longer calls himself “the Rock”, so you have to call him Dwayne) to punch an earthquake.

No cowardice allowed!

HORSE SENSE – BY TOM CURLEY

Marilyn and Garry wrote a blog a while back about watching one of their favorite movies, “Rustler’s Rhapsody.” It’s also one of my favorite movies. They introduced it to me.

I’ve seen it dozens of times and I  love introducing it to any friend who hasn’t seen it before.

It’s a very loving parody of all the great western movies of the 30’s and 40’s.  An ode to the singing cowboy. The closing music over the credits is one of my all time favorite songs, “The Last Of The Silver Screen Cowboys”. I swear to God I tear up a little every time I hear it.

I was one of those little kids with the Roy Rogers cowboy hats and a pair of six-shooters.

Every day when I was four or five, I’d strap on my six guns, put on my hat and go out in the backyard and do my “patrol.” You’d be amazed by the number of bad guys and rustlers I ran off my property. When I’d come back home (my back porch), my Grandpa would have already left me my “lunch.”

A single Necco Wafer. We ran a lean ranch.

I listened to the song again after I read the post and it got me to thinking.

There’s a great line in the song that says “Roy, and Trigger, we loved you. And Hoppy we saved all our dimes. Saturday afternoon double features. And we sat through each movie two times.”

I’m tearing up again. They acknowledged Trigger, but what about the other great horses? Silver, Scout, Buttermilk, Topper, Buckshot, Wildfire, and of course, Champion, the Wonder Horse.

Think about it. The horses were really the smartest ones in the movies. Silver was always pulling the Lone Ranger out of the river after he falls off a cliff and is unconscious. Scout is always getting Tonto out-of-town at the last minute after the townsfolk finished beating the shit out of him because the Lone Ranger sent him to town to get some “information.”

I’ve often wondered what they thought about their riders, seeing them doing the same stupid things over and over again.

TRIGGER: Silver, Scout, hey guys! What’s up?

SILVER: Same ole, same ole. Just pulled the Ranger out of the river again before the bad guys found him.  Fifth time I’ve had to do it this month.

TRIGGER: How’d he end up in the river this time?

SILVER: Same reason as always. Got his head grazed by a bullet, fell off a cliff, and knocked himself out. You’d think he’d learn.

SCOUT: Humans, very hard to train. Take my guy, Tonto. The Ranger is always sending him into town to get some “information.” And every time he does, the townsfolk beat the shit out of him, knock him out. I have to drag his ragged ass back to camp. You’d think by now he’d say “Fuck you Kemosabe, you go to town and get the shit beat out of you.” But no, not Tonto. A real type-B personality.

SILVER: What about your guy, Trigger? What does he do that annoys you?

TRIGGER: Not much really. I do get tired of having to rear up on my hind legs and whinny every time we leave to go somewhere. I mean, most of the time there’s nobody around to even see it. What’s the point?

SILVER: I hear that. My guy does that all the time. Drives me nuts.

SCOUT: Tonto tries to do that too. I just ignore him.

SILVER: So, Trigger, I got a question. I’ve always been curious. Is Roy, uh, how do I put it? Um, gay?

TRIGGER: What?! No!

SCOUT: Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

TRIGGER: Why would you think that?

SILVER: Well, I mean, come on. Look at how he dresses. He’s very stylish for a cowboy. And he’s into musical theater. He sings in every one of his movies. I’m just saying …

TRIGGER: What about your guy? He basically wears a unitard!

SILVER: Point taken.

SCOUT: Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

TRIGGER: And what about Dale Evans?

SILVER: Could just be his beard. Ever seen them kiss?

TRIGGER: Well, no, but…

SILVER: The only one I’ve ever seen him kiss is you.

TRIGGER: Hey! I’m a confident heterosexual horse!

SILVER: So that means’ you’ve done it with Buttermilk?

SCOUT: Oh, I would so tap that filly. She’s hot. Get em up, Scout!

TRIGGER: Uh, well, not yet but ….

SILVER: Look, it’s all cool. There’s something else I’ve always wondered about. Why is it that all the people in the towns ride horses — except Pat Brady, who drives a broken-down World War II jeep?  What the hell is that all about? What year is it, anyway?

SCOUT: And why do you make Bullet run alongside the jeep? I mean, we’re built to run 30 to 40 miles an hour. He’s just a German Shepard! Why not let him ride in the jeep?

Hey Roy, I can run fast, but give me a break!

I guess these are questions that will never get answered.

And for the record, I am not suggesting that Roy Rogers was gay. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

I was just horsing around.

SHORTER IS BETTER – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I have seen many plays that were interesting, but way too long. The producers had to fill out the required time for a Broadway play, whether or not they had enough good material. A lot of movies are also too long for the same reason.

To me, most action movies are no more than a series of barely distinguishable scenes of violence strung together from the opening credits and beginning “premise,” to an even more spectacularly violent dénouement. As far as I’m concerned, you could cut movies of this genre in half without altering the plot (what plot?) at all. But then, you might have a 47-minute movie which no one would pay to see. I would be one of the people who didn’t pay to see it.

smiley-face-desktop-x-391568

This is particularly painful with comedies, particularly on television. Many sit-coms have a few funny bits and that’s it. The rest of the show just isn’t funny. In a perfect world, you could air an 18-minute episode because that’s all the funny material you had. You should be able to present the material that works, then call it a day.

For the most part, half-hour shows are only 21 minutes after subtracting commercial breaks. Take off another one or two for coming attractions and you’re down to 19 minutes. So maybe the problem is the really bad scripts? Maybe they only feel long because they are so bad? Or maybe they are so short, there’s no time to develop a plot?

I worry about this with blogs too. I have good ideas but I they don’t always add up to a whole post. So I’m simply going to present a few paragraphs from a couple of interesting articles I read recently.

First, apparently, babies and young children are ‘designed,’ by evolution, to seem cute and winning to adults to ensure kids get the maximum love and attention they need to thrive and grow. Infants’ big eyes, button noses, and chubby cheeks elicit a kind of primal bonding reaction in adults. So do the sounds they make and the way they smell. It’s a visceral, chemical, and nearly universal reaction.

Children start to lose those physically attractive ‘baby’ features around age two or three, so adults are hard-wired to respond equally strongly to the speech patterns of young children.

The way kids perceive and say things sound funny and charming to us. Their observations about the world seem irresistibly adorable. This phenomenon has a name: “Cognitive Babyness.” Studies show that between age two and seven, a child’s cute behavior replaces their cute faces in stimulating a caregiving response.

Go evolution!

Ana McGuffey - 1946 - Mme. Alexander - Doll's faces are intended to embody the "adorable" factor of real toddlers.
Ana McGuffey – 1946 – Mme. Alexander – Doll’s faces are intended to embody the “adorable” factor of real toddlers.

So much for interesting factoids. I’ll move to my next mini topic.

I taught Yoga and Meditation for eight years. I know the enormous benefits to adults — increased focus, attention span, calmness, control, and confidence. Also, decreased tension and stress, anger, frustration, distractibility, and fewer physical aches and pains. It never occurred to me that teaching some form of Yoga and/or Mindfulness into schoolchildren might have the same amazing benefits. \

Recently, I’ve read articles about these kinds of programs being taught in kindergarten through high school, all around the country. They have produced outstanding results.

The skills taught have reduced the symptoms in ADHD kids. Calmed children with anxiety disorders. Helped kids with learning issues, behavior problems, and social deficits. The same studies have shown improved grades, a higher degree of empathy and kindness between kids — and an enhanced enthusiasm for school.

Many schools have incorporated some form of mindfulness into the curriculum for teachers as well as students.

Way to go! Good for you! Over and out!

SINGING IN THE RAIN – Rich Paschall

My Top 10 “Rain Songs,” by Rich Paschall

Summer rain may be tapping at your window and that means it is time for some rain music.  Before you can step out of a rainbow or sail into a sunset, we have your songs for a Summer Rain.

Every time I consider a Top 10 list of songs, I think I will never actually come up with ten.  The fact is, I always pass 10 and must consider which ones to toss.  Remember, my rain-soaked friends, this is my top 10.  Some make the list only because I heard them thousands of times as I grew up.  They seem to have been woven into my life, and have been there now for decades.  I do have one of recent vintage to toss on the list. I think you will like it.

I did notice there are a lot songs that are highly regarded for this topic (yes, other people make lists), but I could not bring myself to add them.  One is the horribly overblown version of November Rain by Guns and Roses.  The over-long video with the orchestra and strings is a self-indulgent piece of … (I digress), but it nevertheless makes the top of some rainy lists.  Guitarist Slash said in an interview a few years ago that he has no idea what the 1992 video for the song is about.  Yeah, it makes no sense to him either.

Without further a do, or is it ado, or a dew?  Anyway it is not just dew, it is rain and here they are:

10. I Wish it Would Rain, The Temptations.  This was released as a single in December 1967 and featured on the 1968 album, The Temptations Wish It Would Rain.
9. Fire and Rain, James Taylor. Released in 1970, Taylor has since given various explanations of the lyrics.
8. Here Comes the Rain Again, Eurythmics.  Released in 1984 it climbed to number 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
7. Rainy Days and Mondays, The Carpenters. Yes, it is pop fluff. I like it anyway.
6. Rainy Night in Georgia, Brook Benton. There are a lot of versions, Benton’s is the best.

There are a number of fan videos of Hunter Hayes performing Rainy Season, but nothing official.  Since I have not found a good one, I will give you this audio version from the Encore album.

5.  Rainy Season, Hunter Hayes

Neil Sedaka had a string of hits that go well back into the 1960’s.  His early rock songs made him a star.  In 1974 he composed Laughter in the Rain with lyrics by Phil Cody.  It was a come back for Sedaka and the song made number 1 by February of 1975.  Forty years later, at the age of 76, he gave the following performance.  Yes, I can find earlier versions where his singing is a little better, but I just love it when the old guys can still deliver the goods.

4. Laughter in the Rain, Neil Sedaka

There are a LOT of versions of “Come Rain or Come Shine.”  The Ray Charles version is particularly good, and I highly recommend it (click HERE).  My addition to the list may surprise you.  Jerry Lewis was not known as a singer and yet, he had a successful album after the breakup of the comedy duo of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.  Jerry was eager to prove he had more talent than just as a slapstick comedian.  My mother owned the 45, or was it a 78 rpm, recording and we played it ad nauseam.  The A side was Rock a Bye Your Baby and certainly got a lot of radio and juke box play, but the B side was well-regarded also. There is a You Tube video of Lewis performing the song at one of the 1990s telethons.  I decided to just go with the actual recording he made famous.

3. Come Rain or Come Shine, Jerry Lewis (Jerry Lewis Just Sings)

Whenever I hear this hit song, I think of Paul Newman riding a bicycle in the 1969 movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The song was written and produced by the song writing team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David.  It was offered to others, but the B.J. Thomas version is the only one that matters.  It was the first number 1 hit song of the 1970s.  On the version recorded for the film, Thomas was recovering from laryngitis.  It is why that version does not sound the same as the hit record.

2. Rain Drops Keep Falling On My Head, B.J. Thomas

Seriously, what do you think of when you think about rain songs? Purple Rain? Have You Ever Seen Rain? Who’ll Stop the Rain? What one song immediately comes to mind? All fans of movie musicals will think of my number one. Is there any other?

The 1952 film, Singing in the Rain, got its title tune from a 1929 (or earlier) song that appeared in 1929’s The Hollywood Music Box Revue.  It was recorded a number of times before it was recycled to great success as the centerpiece of the classic movie.  Gene Kelly directed and starred in the film, recording one of the most famous dance sequences ever shot.  The remarkable part is that Kelly was ill and running a high fever at the time of the performance.

1. Singing in the Rain, Gene Kelly

Click on any title to play the You Tube video. or play the entire list by clicking HERE.

AND HELL’S COMING WITH ME … – Marilyn Armstrong

Wyatt Earp: All right, Clanton… you called down the thunder, well now you’ve got it! You see that?
[pulls open his coat, revealing a badge]
Wyatt Earp: It says United States Marshal!
Ike Clanton[terrified, pleading] Wyatt, please, I …
Wyatt Earp[referring to Stillwell, laying dead] Take a good look at him, Ike … ’cause that’s how you’re gonna end up!
[shoves Ike down roughly with his boot]
Wyatt Earp: The Cowboys are finished, you understand? I see a red sash, I kill the man wearin’ it!
[lets Ike up to run for his life]
Wyatt Earp: So run, you cur… RUN! Tell all the other curs the law’s comin’!
[shouts]
Wyatt Earp: You tell ’em I’M coming… and hell’s coming with me, you hear? …
[louder]
Wyatt Earp: And Hell’s coming with me!


Hell is definitely coming …

The dust rose from the desiccated, dusty road that is Main Street in Tombstone. The horses looked hot and tired. They had every right to be. It was godawful hot. In the sun, more than 125 degrees and I don’t care, dry or not, that’s like sitting in an oven. Add basting and soon, you could be Thanksgiving dinner somewhere.

Tombstone

I think when it isn’t quite as hot, you can ride the stage. When the temps are that high, it’s not good to stress the horses more than they are already stressed merely by pulling the coach. Slowly pulling the coach. It’s a pretty big carriage, though they are also huge horses.

Still, heat kills. It’s bad enough to make horses pull the stage in such weather, but to add the weight of passengers might be too much. Those big horses come dear, you know. The interior of the stage is probably pretty hot too.

As we wandered around the town, we bought souvenir tee shirts. One for me, one for Garry. Of course, we did. Wouldn’t you? They were pretty pricey, so we bought only two. We also bought some books. And a calendar. I think we would have bought the coach, the horses and maybe the saloon if we could have. We really liked Tombstone.

We also love the movie. I really don’t know how many times we’ve watched it. Often enough so we both know all the lines. the scenes. We laugh before it’s funny because we already know. So being in Tombstone was awesome. No, I mean it. Really awesome. As in “we were struck with awe” and also, we didn’t fall down with heat stroke, though I’m pretty sure we were pretty close to it.

Garry bought a tee-shirt that said “You tell ’em I’M coming…” and mine said, “And Hell’s coming with me.” You had to see us together to really feel it.

These days, our sense of justice has been so deeply damaged, we have returned to watching Westerns to get some of that old justice juice going.

The movie is “Tombstone.” It was shot in Tombstone, Arizona in 1993. They more or less rebuilt the town to make the movie and have kept it that way. It brings in tourists. We are exactly the kind of tourists for whom they are always waiting.

We would gladly have spent more money, but retirees don’t have a lot of spare money. And, to be fair, we own many, many tee-shirts already. I had settled for taking pictures and staying in the shade. No wonder they had covers over the sidewalks. Even for Arizona, that was a serious heat wave, but at least the shade made it possible to inhale.

We watched Wyatt and his crew clean up the west. They killed them all. The move is full length, but it always feels too short. Garry says that’s how you know a movie is perfect because you don’t want it to end.

I didn’t want it to end.