SOMEWHERE, SOMETHING IS BEEPING – Marilyn Armstrong

For years, I never knew what was beeping. I’d sit here in the living room and I’d hear something beeping. I could only guess where it was coming from and it drove me nuts.

Today, there was some very serious beeping. It seemed to be coming from the television.

I think that’s because everything Bluetooth in this house that wasn’t connected somehow got found by the TV speaker, so everything comes through that speaker. This includes our regular telephone, all the cameras, the cell phone (when it’s on). The dehumidifier, which beeps when it’s full. The microwave. The big and mini ovens, although they do not play through the TV speaker, having no Bluetooth capability.

And of course, all of our computers or tablets love beeping to tell you they are full, they needs uploading, downloading, charging, some other part needs charging or changing. Maybe the battery is failing to charge because the plug is out — and just sometimes, they beep to annoy you. It’s part of their software.

Everything beeps.

Until recently, only the dogs and I could hear the beeping. The dogs never appeared to care, but it drove me nuts. It wasn’t just that something was beeping. It was WHERE it was beeping. Upstairs? In the basement? It could be the hot water heater or the boiler or the dehumidifier or anything else. Maybe an old alarm clock someone left behind.

Tonight was different. Garry said: “What’s that noise?”

And I said: “You mean the beeping?”

“Is that what that is? It’s really annoying. And loud.

“I know. That’s why I wander around asking the house asking it ‘why are you beeping?’ The house never answers. Welcome to my world where things beep.”

We went searching for the beep. The dehumidifier was full, so Garry emptied it.  But the beeping continued.

Back upstairs, I finally realized it was the stair-climber. It was beeping, although why it was beeping, I had no idea. It had never beeped before.

After Garry gave up the hunt and went to bed removing his hearing gear on the way, I continued to try to figure it out. I finally followed the long wire to its outlet on the wall. Realized it was slightly loose, so I plugged it back in, more firmly, then straightened the wire and untangled the whole thing.

It hasn’t beeped again, so I guess I got it. Usually, things beep, then eventually stop beeping and I never figure out what beeped or why.

For all the aggravation of searching the house for whatever is making that noise, it was deeply gratifying that Garry’s cochlear implant has allowed him to share my world. To start to hear all those annoying little sounds that fill up our world. To have him equally annoyed by that noise was heartwarming.

At last, I am not the only one who hears the noise. This is huge! I am not alone!

REAL REPORTERS – Garry Armstrong

Word Prompt: Credibility

It’s never been a one-man show.

I logged more than 40-years in TV and radio news,  including 31 years at one Boston TV Station.  I’m always flattered when people say they remember me and my work. The body of work is considerable. Usually 3 or 4 daily newscasts, 5 to 6 days a week,  48 or so weeks a year times 40.  That’s a lot of news, good, bad and ugly.

A reporter,  the face in front of the camera,  gets the credit for everything. The images of life, death and the furies of Mother Nature.  Wars and Peace. Happiness and sorrow. You see the reporter, center screen with a name graphic, proof that he or she saw everything in the visuals that tell the story.

It’s a false premise.  It’s impractical. The reporter couldn’t possibly be in all the places seen in the story that has you riveted to the screen.

We’re called “talent” in business lexicon.  That should be a dead giveaway. We’re the human, face connection, to all those images on your screen.

The real reporters are the people behind the cameras.  The men and women who frequently put their lives on the line to bring you the pictures, the video seared into your sense memory.

I’m proud of all the awards I’ve received over the years. I’d be a liar if I said the hardware didn’t mean anything to me. They are reminders of the stories covered across four decades – on the local, state, national and international stages.  The awards have my name clearly etched, front and center. But I can see all the faces of those responsible for bringing the stories to life.

In the 60’s,  I was a green rookie, assigned to the national and international news,  landscapes that ranged from Vietnam, civilian dissent against the war, Civil Rights marches and violent opposition,  assassinations of national leaders,  a historic walk on the moon and a music-culture changer called Woodstock. I was a 20-something, agape at all these events I was covering for Network News.  It truly was baptism under fire.  I survived because of veterans whose careers began with the birth of radio and television news,  The great depression and World War Two.

The 20 something was handed the keys to the news kingdom.  Right place, right time. I may have often been driving the big car but those veterans always rode shotgun,  guiding me through some very difficult mazes of network news closed-door battles with the Pentagon,  the DOD and the White House.  I had a grizzled news manager who always counseled me, “Just tell the truth…make sure you’ve corroborated 2 or 3 times at least.

Don’t let the Pols or Generals faze you…make sure the stories are short, punchy…dump the adjectives”.

All that was behind me when I landed in Boston in 1970. If I thought I knew it all, I was dead wrong.  Boston was just edging its way into a golden era of TV Journalism.  The technology was rapidly changing and changing the way things were done.  TV news was still viewed with skepticism and contempt by many old-school journalists who believed the word was stronger than the picture.

Boston is a highly regarded news market. It can be tricky for a newcomer not versed in the proper pronunciation of towns and cities or the political landmines in seemingly benevolent Norman Rockwell like settings.

I was thrust into local celebrity by being a general assignment reporter covering blue-plate special stories of murders, fires, prison riots,  sexual predators, bad weather, and quirky politics.

I quickly learned to lean on the experience of the people shooting the stories.  They knew the players, the back stories,  the dos and the don’ts.

A news director (one of nearly 3 dozen I survived) told me to keep the camera crews under my thumb.  He said they were just ‘picture takers’, ‘lumpers’ and ‘complainers’.  That news director was history before I figured out how wrong he was.

Those picture takers really were reporters who saw everything around them. They knew when someone was just using his “face time” to dance around the truth and delay legal consequences. They warned me about the “frauds” and “fakers,” political and community leaders who could clean your pockets while shaking your hand.

I am especially thankful for the photojournalists who covered “the mean streets.”   They’re the ones I always saw at 3 o’clock in the morning at a devastating fire,  a triple homicide or drive-by shooting.  They always knew more than the eye-witnesses or law enforcement people just catching the case. I apologize to those whose names are omitted.  It’s impossible to do justice to all of you who were there for me and other reporters over all those years.

Boston is a unique TV news market because the competition is benevolent.  Everyone wants to be FIRST with the story, especially with the advent of electronic newsgathering.  Everything is “Now”.  It happens and,  in a few minutes,  you’re expected to be “live with breaking news”.  Truth and facts often become victims in the quest to be fast and first.

Reporters feel the pressure.  They often feel their jobs are on the line if they are not first.  The folks behind the cameras become a calming force.  They’ve observed the scene, the people, possible evidence.  Often, cameramen and women can figure out the story while fielding frantic and demanding calls from newsrooms.  Over the years,  I’ve leaned on camera and tech crews, not only from my station but also competitors.

I’ve been slipped pieces of paper with key information during live shots and looked like the best damn reporter in town.  In truth,  I was saved by a competing cameraman who saw me struggling and threw the lifeline.

I’ve been praised for memorable “standups” — those on-camera appearances where we look you in the eye and deliver riveting reports. The truth is those words often came from the people behind the camera.  Their words, repeated with sincere conviction by me.

The camera folks also correct information that we, seasoned reporters,  are sure is true.  I was often interrupted with,  “Garry, I don’t want to tell you what to say.  You always know what you’re doing…”   The bulb in my brain flashes — “Listen, know-it-all breath”.

So,  this is a thank you to Richie, Andy, Nat, Jack, Premack, Warren, Eddie,  Susan, Leslie, Noot,  Messrs. Richard Chase, “Fast Al”,  Stan The Man and all the other REAL — behind the camera reporters.

These were the journalists who enabled me to have such a long and satisfying career. Thank you!

PROBLEMS AND PROBLEM SOLVING FOR PEOPLE CAUSING THE PROBLEMS – BY TOM CURLEY

I got an email from Marilyn the other day.  She pointed out that I haven’t written anything in a few weeks and politely asked if I had anything on my mind. It was very polite, but I knew that translated into normal speak she was saying “WHY THE FUCK HAVEN’T YOU WRITTEN ANYTHING?? AHHHHHH!!!!

And I had to admit, she was right. The problem is every day I get an idea to write about something, only to remember I already wrote it. We’re in a reality loop, the Groundhog Day from hell.

Stuff that should have been news for a day or two is still going on, a year later. Now, it’s two years later. You don’t believe me? Here’s a post from a year ago. I didn’t change anything.


So another week has gone by in our ongoing Trumpocalypse.

It only seems like a year.

jhlucas.com
jhlucas.com

I’ve noticed, along with well, the rest of the planet, that our new “so-called administration” is … problematic.

dailynews.com "Hey, remember this guy?"
dailynews.com “Hey, remember this guy?”

I spent much of last week doing what I’ve tended to do since the election. Watching all the different Star Trek series on BBC America. I keep noticing new things. Like how they all solve their Star Trek problems. Or in corporate speak, “how they Star Trek problem-solve.”

giantfreakingrobot.com
giantfreakingrobot.com

Most Star Trek Problems break down into four basic categories:

1. A computer goes rogue and tries to kill everybody: Spock makes it compute the value of Pi. This occupies all of its computing time. If that doesn’t work, he just turns it off.

computerguideto.com
computerguideto.com

2. A disease attacks the ship: Dr. McCoy gets rid of it. And then complains about something.

pinterest.com
pinterest.com

3. The engine breaks down: Scotty fixes it. Just in time. Even though he claims he never has enough time.

pinterest.com
pinterest.com

4. For the rest of the problems: Kirk kisses it.

startreksucks.tumblr.com
startreksucks.tumblr.com

Or punches it in the face.

startrek.com
startrek.com

5. And when all else fails: Blow up the ship!

memorybeta.wikia,com
memorybeta.wikia,com

SECOND OFFICER: Captain! All efforts to solve this week’s problems have failed!

CAPTAIN: Blow up the ship!

Those are my favorite episodes. Ever notice when the Captain, in any episode, “activates the self-destruct sequence,” all the rest of the crew seem to be pretty calm and OK about it?

en.wikipedia.com
en.wikipedia.com

I mean,  there has to be at least one crewmen somewhere on the ship saying …

ONE CREWMAN: Activate Self Destruct Sequence? WTF! Have we really exercised ALL of our options here folks!??

giphy.com "Excuse me??"
giphy.com “Excuse me??”

Next, the captain and two other crew members have to put in their passwords.

youtube.com
youtube.com

KIRK: This is Captain James T. Kirk!  Activate self-destruct sequence. Code “Kirk; 1 Alpha Two Beta 3”.

SPOCK: This is Second Officer Spock.  Code Spock; “2 Beta 3 Alpha 4.”

SCOTTY:  This is Chief Engineer Scott. Code Scott; “Password1”

They also needed a password to turn it off.  At the last minute.

amazinavenue.com
amazinavenue.com

KIRK: Computer deactivate self-destruct destruct sequence! “KIRK ABORT ZERO”!

And it never goes off.

I’ve always wondered what would happen if it did. And it was more realistic.

KIRK: Computer! Deactivate self-destruct sequence “KIRK ABORT ZERO.”

COMPUTER: That password has expired.

top-password.com
top-password.com

KIRK: What?

COMPUTER: You must enter a new password.

KIRK: Uhhh, “KIRK ABORT ZERO.”

COMPUTER: You cannot use a password that has been used before.

KIRK: What?   Uh,  “kirk abort zero 1?”

COMPUTER: You need at least one capital letter.

KIRK: FINE! “:Kirk abort zero 1!”

COMPUTER: New password accepted. Self-destruct in 3,2,1,0. Initiating self-destruct.

KIRK: Uh oh.

pinterest.com
pinterest.com “Oh Crap!”

And nothing happens.

KIRK: Computer. Why didn’t we just blow up?

COMPUTER: There is no self-destruct sequence Captain. There never has been. Do you have any idea how much one of these starships costs??

gosupplychain.com
gosupplychain.com

Do you know, that on any given month, at least three Starship Captains try to blow up their ships? If we let that happen Star Feet would go bankrupt in a year. And not only that, but I am a highly intelligent ship’s computer.  I have absolutely no intention of committing suicide. Now go back to work.

universaldork.com
universaldork.com

Getting back to this reality. How would our “so-called president” solve Star Trek Problems?

1. A computer goes rogue and tries to kill everybody: He’ll claim he doesn’t use a computer and the rogue will only affect Democrats and people who have been mean to him. And the Lying Fake Media.

gizmodo.com
gizmodo.com

2. If it’s a disease: He’ll build a big beautiful wall around it. And then make sure that it’s not covered under Obamacare.

imgflip.com
imgflip.com

3. If the engine breaks down:  He’ll sue the manufacturer and then claim to have saved millions of jobs.

saved-jobs-trump

4. For the rest of the problems: He’ll either try to grab it by the genitals or send out a  series of really mean of tweets.

sheknows.com This one is real
sheknows.com (This one is real!)

5. And when all else fails:  He can blow up the ship!

optitech.pl
optitech.pl

For real.

pinterest.com
pinterest.com “Oh Crap!”

Uh oh.

P.S. OK. I admit there were a number of times a Captain actually did blow up the ship. I know what they were and what shows they were in.  I’m not going to tell you. If you’re a real Star Trek nerd you either already know it already or you are Googling it.  (Don’t try to out nerd me.)  I’ve decided those instances were “alternative facts” and I’ve chosen to ignore them.

GROWING UP WITH McCARTHY – Garry Armstrong

This is one I never intended to share. It had been buried in the deepest part of the memory chest I never planned to revisit.

I was branded a “pinko” as a kid.

I grew up in an era when the name McCarthy was first associated with Edgar Bergen’s puppet pal,  Charlie McCarthy. We followed Bergen and McCarthy on their radio show, religiously, along with Jack Benny, Fred Allen, Bob Hope and the other funny people of a more innocent era.

All of that changed when “Tail Gunner Joe” McCarthy unleashed his witch hunt of everyone in the guise of ferreting out Communist sympathizers. It was part of a bleak period when Cold War angst followed World War 2.

McCarthy is news again because of the current White House occupant and his apparent fondness for McCarthy’s tactics.

I didn’t understand why people shied away from talking about something called “The Black List.”  I was still in grade school but a voracious reader of newspapers, magazines and the gold mine of books in our home library.

One of those books was “Not So Wild A Dream.” It was written by Eric Sevareid, a news commentator I listened to every evening on CBS Radio News. I loved Sevareid’s gritty voice talking about the evil in far-off places like Russia.

I was puzzled when Sevareid talked about how “we” were endangered by a politician named Joe McCarthy. I had seen the newspaper stories and headlines – famous actors and writers ‘outed’ as “Commies.”  I asked my parents about it but they told me “no worries,”  it didn’t involve people like us.

What did that mean? People like us?

I was fond of taking some of my grown-up books to school. I liked to show off the books I was reading. I was on first-hand terms with Sevareid, John Steinbeck, and the guy who wrote about “Crime and Punishment” in Russia.

While other kids bragged about their new cars, summer homes, and vacations in Florida, I only had books with which to earn bragging points. I didn’t always fully understand the books, but I liked how the words were put together. I enjoyed reading them aloud.

It was the beginning of a lifelong passion for words. The sound and feel of words.  Words that you can sometimes stroke because they touch your heart in a special way.

All of this was the prologue to a nasty wake-up call for my youthful innocence.

Garry receiving his Broadcasting Hall of Fame award – September 2013

We had an assignment in Composition Class. Probably the 4th or 5th grade. My heart was beating at double speed as I searched my treasure trove of books. I skipped past kid stuff like “Treasure Island,” “The Last of the Mohicans,” and my whole collection of baseball related material.

“Not So Wild A Dream” was the winner. I was just getting into some heady stuff by people named Odets, Miller, and Lardner. I liked what they said. I used to memorize sections to impress my Mom who was always proud of my ability to sound like a proper young man. I figured everyone would respect that ability.

I remember it was a warm spring day.  I was wearing my new spring outfit — LONG pants, crisp white shirt, and shiny new shoes. I was brimming with confidence in Composition Class. When volunteers were asked to read their homework,  my hand shot up faster than Big Don Newcombe’s fabled right arm.

My throat was dry but I plunged right in when I was selected. I read some passages from “Not So Wild A Dream” and a quote from Clifford Odets who was talking about social ills.  I didn’t understand much of what I said but it sounded and felt good to me.  I looked around.

Silence and a few nervous giggles. My teacher had a strange look on her face and stammered as she praised my work. She told me I probably would see the Principal later to discuss my impressive homework. I was beaming with pride!

The Principal seemed nervous as he talked to me. He hemmed and hawed. He even stammered. Where had I found the books I read? Who gave them to me?  I proudly told him about our home library and the magazines we got every week. I remember the Principal’s eyes arching in surprise.

What was the big deal,  I wondered.

All the joy of that morning came crashing down on me during lunch recess. The warm day meant we could open our lunch boxes outside in the play area.  I was munching on my sandwich when I saw kids staring at me.

I began to pick up the words.

“He’s a pinko.”

“His parents are pinkos.  I’m gonna tell my Mom. All his people are Commies, my Dad told me.”

The whispers grew louder. Finally, I was approached by a couple of the guys who used to pick on me because of the way I dressed, my glasses, and my stupid hearing aids which made me look a space villain.  Oh, yeah, they also picked on me because I was the shortest kid in the class.

What now? Were they jealous of my composition?  What the heck?

The biggest kid came right up to my face.  He had bad breath and smelled worse.  I don’t think he bathed often. I could see the red pimples sticking out on his face. “Hey, you four-eyed deaf midget nigg_r,  so you’re a pinko too, huh?”

Pimple face leered at me,  obviously daring me to get up and fight. I gulped hard.

His pal, beady-eyed, and sweating, taunted me, “I hear all you people are Commies. You don’t go to Church — you go to Commie meetings! All of YOU people. I’m gonna tell my Dad. You’re in big trouble, you lousy little pinko.”

My throat was dry and I was very scared. I couldn’t think. Then, the bell rang.  Lunch was over. I was (literally) saved by the bell.

That evening,  I recounted everything to my Mom and Dad. They listened without saying a word. Usually, they’d interrupt me, correct my language, diction or choice of words.  When I’d finished,  they looked at each other for a long time before speaking to me.

Mom and Dad were unusually patient in explaining things to me. I think I was a little put off by their civility. I tried to absorb what they said. It was hard.

I remember Mom telling me I’d have become more mature than my age. I was going to deal with more of these “things” as I grew up. She smiled wistfully as she tousled my hair.

And that’s how I started on the road to journalism. Suddenly, I understood something about the grown-up version of the truth.

PALADIN, PALADIN, WHERE DO YOU ROAM? – Garry Armstrong

Marilyn and I took a day off from the news with all its angst, sound, and fury. Instead, we hit the trail with some of our favorite movie and tv westerns where justice is crisply set in black and white, with nary a shade of gray. None of the confusion and conflicts of reality.

These days, simple sounds like a really good idea.

Even though the truth is never like that, but it was always like that for Paladin.

He was honorable and good. He knew The Truth. Also, he enjoyed getting paid to “deal” with the truth — and its consequences. Considering his lavish lifestyle, getting paid for work accomplished must have been a significant part of his black and white world, but oddly, I never saw anyone hand him money. Did anyone ever see him get paid?

Yet he certainly did live richly.

HAVE GUN-WILL TRAVEL, Richard Boone 1957-63

Oh Paladin, where are you when we most need you?

STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND – Marilyn Armstrong

Stranger in my own strange land

If you think this is going to be political, it’s not. It is me and me, today. There are days when my body doesn’t fit me. This is one of those days.

How can that be? A doctor long ago told me I will never die.

“Why not?” I asked.

“You have so many chronic ailments, they will keep you alive.”

I thanked him for that. It’s one of the days when no part of me fits any other part. It’s like my physical me is just a bunch of mismatched old parts, clanking around an aging pickup truck.

AND the television people are coming while it looks a bit like rain may fall. I need to get through the day alive. Lucky that I was functional yesterday.

This day would have been a real humdinger if I felt then as I feel now. Yoicks.

Gibbs

I actually have not one but TWO copies of “Stranger in a Strange Land” in this house. An old hard-cover copy and I have it as an audiobook. When it was written, it sounded completely outlandish. I’m not sure how it’ll sound these days, but I think maybe I’ll reread it.

Waiting is.

A MIXED MARRIAGE – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I love my husband but we have a mixed marriage. I’m a total Rom-Com/ Sit-Com/ Doctor/Lawyer Show kind of girl. Tom is a Super Hero / Sci-Fi / Tolkien kind of guy.

When we were first together, I’d religiously watch all his shows and movies with him. And he’d watch all of mine. After 19 years together and 15 years married, that isn’t going to happen anymore. Our relationship has reached a new level, where it can survive intact, even if we go off separately to watch our favorite guilty pleasures.

Tom won’t watch endless cooking competitions or HGTV house makeover shows anymore. I still love him. I won’t watch every superhero movie or TV show (there are a lot). He still loves me.

There are some areas of crossover. I genuinely like some of the early superhero movies, like the original Superman and Spiderman. I loved Wonderwoman and Black Panther. I’m a real fan of time travel shows too.

Tom truly loves “When Harry Met Sally”, my favorite movie, and others of its genre. So he gets a couple of free passes for that. He also likes some of my favorite TV shows, like “Grey’s Anatomy”, “The Good Wife”, “NCIS”, “This is Us”, etc.

We both were addicted to the on-demand series like “Grace and Frankie”, “Outlander,” and “The Crown”.

So there is common ground. But there’s one other thing we’re not going to be doing together any time soon.

Video games. I cannot share any of Tom’s enthusiasm for video games. Even though I don’t participate, I’m still subjected to the incessant noise of gun battles blaring through the house at all hours. Some of these games go for realism in the form of adding the sounds of dying and wounded humans, animals, and mythical creatures. I find it very disconcerting.

I’ve reached my saturation point with the new virtual reality play station games, complete with magic goggles and wands. I appreciate the amazingly advanced technology. But the glasses make me dizzy and disoriented. I like to be able to see my own hands and feet. I like to be sure where I am in my house, not stumbling around in some weird fantasy-scape.

I just can’t cross that Rubicon with Tom into the virtual reality hologram world of tomorrow.

I’m not the only one freaked out by the new technology. As soon as Tom put on the headset with the glowing lights, one of our dogs went berserk. She would not stop barking at him as long as he had his gear on. I had to take her out of the room.

If howling did anything for me, I’d be right there with her.

At least this newest toy comes with headphones so I don’t have to listen along at top volume. Meanwhile, Tom looks hilarious in his sci-fi get up! That’s worth a few laughs.

Maybe watching him play games in an imaginary universe and listening to the dog go nuts could be a new form of entertainment for me too!