THERE WAS A FIRE AT THE HEART AND IT WILL BURN FOREVER – Marilyn Armstrong

Sioux teepee

Sioux teepee

My teepee had a firepit. I lined it with fireplace tiles, then added a surround of old red brick. It was a big pit for a small teepee, but logs come in a lot of different shapes and it was easier to leave extra space to accommodate the bigger and odder-shaped pieces than try to figure out how to fit them into a smaller pit.

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It gets very cold in winter in New England. In the deepest part of the winter, with the temperature well below freezing and several feet of snow on the ground, I liked going out to my teepee to spend a few hours by a fire. It was the most peaceful, private place in the world, one of the few places I felt really relaxed and at peace.

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I learned to build a fire very fast. In fact, I got so I could get that fire going in less than a minute. Of course, that’s not counting however much time it took to bring in the logs and stack the fire properly so it would catch and burn properly.

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A teepee fire needs to be bright and hot so the smoke will go straight up the smoke hole. In essence, a teepee is a chimney with room for other stuff. If you build the pit and the fire correctly, there is very little smoke and a lot of heat.

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Once the fire was going, the teepee, which had a lining to help insulate it, got very warm. I often had to open the door and sit half in and half out because it was so warm inside. And no, despite crackling and sparks, the teepee doesn’t catch on fire. It looks like it will, but it doesn’t, though I wouldn’t leave a fire unattended. Then again, I won’t leave any fire unattended.

A fire in a teepee on a snowy night is magic and it keeps the fire burning.

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio
Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe
Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, “The King and I” and “The Catcher in the Rye”
Eisenhower, vaccine, England’s got a new queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye
💢
We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it 

💢

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc
Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Dacron
Dien Bien Phu falls, “Rock Around the Clock”
Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn’s got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland
Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Khrushchev
Princess Grace, “Peyton Place”, trouble in the Suez

💢

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

💢

Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac
Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, “Bridge on the River Kwai”
Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball
Starkweather, homicide, children of thalidomide
Buddy Holly, “Ben Hur”, space monkey, Mafia
Hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go
U2, Syngman Rhee, payola and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, “Psycho,” Belgians in the Congo

💢

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

💢

Hemingway, Eichmann, “Stranger in a Strange Land”
Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion
“Lawrence of Arabia”, British Beatlemania
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson
Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex
JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say 

💢

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it 

💢
Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline
Ayatollah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan
“Wheel of Fortune”, Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide
Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, crack, Bernie Goetz
Hypodermics on the shores, China’s under martial law
Rock and roller cola wars, I can’t take it anymore 

💢

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
But when we are gone
Will it still burn on, and on, and on, and on 

💢

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it
We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire 

💢

No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it …

Songwriters: Billy Joel
We Didn’t Start the Fire lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

NAMES CAN NEVER HURT YOU – GARRY ARMSTRONG

A while back, Marilyn wrote a piece using the word chutzpah. This is a word I’ve always badly mangled when I try to say it. It’s just a word, what the heck? That was my take for many years until Robin Williams and Billy Crystal gave me a proper public whupping for butchering the pronunciation of chutzpah.  I don’t try to say it in public anymore. It’s a word. I respect it because it carries its own meanings and images.

These days, people often use words or phrases without understanding their origin or meaning. I hear political aspirants, celebrities, athletes and civic leaders say things that make me scratch my head and run back to my dictionary.  Words!  They can be powerful tools used correctly. They can be dangerous used in ignorance.

I grew up in a home full of books. Including dictionaries. Big ones and pocket dictionaries. My parents insisted on using proper language and crisp diction. Street slang guaranteed a head slap or a smack. My two brothers and I were warned about using prejudicial clichés. Since my head has never been properly wrapped, I’ve been guilty of violating those warnings because of my warped sense of humor.

Marilyn warns people that I have toys in the attic.True. And some of the toys are very old.

A friend and I were trading insults the other day. I snapped at him with, “That’s white of you”.  His smile said everything. Words!  You gotta know who, when, and where to use them.

Way back in olden times, I was 19-years-old and worked in a department Store in Hempstead, New York. I was the only non-Jew working in the children’s shoe department. I was waiting on a customer who drove me bonkers. I couldn’t take it anymore and told the parent he was a schmuck.

The manager quietly called me into the stockroom, explained what schmuck meant and asked me never to use it again — even if the customers were jerks. I think he was smiling although reprimanding me. It was a word I’d often heard used in friendly banter, but I didn’t know its origin or meaning. It was just a word. What was the big deal?  I was 19 and knew everything!  I used big words, “20-dollar” words to impress people. People often complimented me, saying I spoke very well. I didn’t understand the veiled insult behind many of those compliments.

After all, they were just words.

John Wayne, of all people, once commented on words and ethics.  It was movie dialogue but still reverberates a half century later. In the 1961 film, “The Comancheros,”  Texas Ranger “Big Jake” Cutter (John Wayne) is lecturing his younger sidekick, Monsieur Paul Regret (Stuart Whitman). Regret asks Big Jake to spin a lie to his superiors to alleviate a problem. Big Jake refuses. Regret doesn’t understand, saying they are just “words.”

Big Jake, with that iconic Wayne frown, says softly, “Just words??  Words, MON-soor, are what men live by. You musta had a poor upbringing.”  Regret looks puzzled, not fully grasping the ethical code of this rough and ready Texas Ranger.  It’s a sublime moment and perfect for the young 1960’s when youth was defying the older generation’s moral code.

I recalled the scene years later in an interview with John Wayne. He smiled, shaking his head because he was in the middle of on-going national dissent against the Vietnam War.  Wayne was one of the most visible and vocal “hawks” in the Vietnam controversy. He had been ridiculed by strident protesters at a Harvard University gathering earlier that day.

“Words, dammit,”  Wayne looked at me, angry and sad. “My words! No damn Hollywood script. I have as much right as those damn college kids.”  Wayne was fuming. The Hollywood legend collected himself as I redirected the conversation to my time as a Marine. I had enlisted in 1959, fired up by the “Sands of Iwo Jima.

“Words. Good words,” I said to Wayne who smiled broadly.

Today, words are often tossed around loosely on social media with little regard to truth or the repercussions of ill-advised words. We have a president who uses words without thought in a daily barrage of tweets. Our media is engaged in a daily war of words, ignoring crucial issues facing our nation and world. Those of us of a certain age shake our heads as we watch young people immersed in tweets rather than direct conversation with friends in the same room. Words have become an endangered species.

I remember the good old days when me and friends went face to face with verbal jousts like “Your Mother wears combat boots!”

Words!  I love’em.

THREE IN THE MORNING AND THE PAGE NUMBERS WON’T WORK – MARILYN ARMSTRONG

I was up until very late last night because Garry got a new computer. Setting it up was easy because these days, everything is automated. And he didn’t have a lot of documents or photographs to move. They are all on my computer.

He has decided he’s going to try writing a book … and his Google book or iPad weren’t going to do the job. I did all the basic setup and downloaded Apache Open Office, which is free (but they will gladly take donations). It has everything (and more) than MS Office. It works on any computer. It really is free.

I have been using it on all my personal computers for the past 15-years. To be fair, I haven’t done any serious work on it. I wrote my book using Framemaker, which was Adobe’s anti-intuitive documentation software which I just happened to own at the time. But when I finished my book, I never renewed it. I’m not sure Adobe makes it anymore.

It was the software for non-fiction authors. If you were working on a doctorate or any material that needs glossaries, appendices, indexes, et al, Framemaker was the software. Expensive, but everything Adobe makes is pricey. I got Framemaker and Photoshop as goodbye gifts from my last job. It was great for designing my book, but for normal every day writing it was overkill.

Meanwhile, they kept charging more and more for MSOffice and it wasn’t worth it. It was so over-automated that it did what it wanted, but almost never what YOU wanted. OpenOffice is much less automated — and free.

But, as I said, I never used it for serious writing. While I haven’t been using it, the application has changed — for the better. If Garry is going to use it, I will have to teach him to use it. How can I teach him to use it if I don’t know how it works? So, after Garry went off to watch old Western movies in the bedroom, I created a small file. No problem with setting up fonts and formats.

Then I figured Garry was going to need page numbers. So hey, I’m a class act with software, right? I set up a footer then went to look for the page numbers. Two hours later, I still couldn’t figure out how to put in a simple page number in the middle of the footer. It would set it up left-right for a book, but I just wanted a simple number, middle of the page in the footer.

As the night began to turn into morning I found something that looked like it might work, but I think you can only see the numbers if you print the document. I was ready for bed, not printing. Oddly enough, I didn’t print it today either. Maybe tomorrow. Or Sunday.

I think I need to go back to Apache and watch some of their videos and read some of the documentation. During 20 years of retirement, I might have lost my touch! It was a humbling experience.

GIVING UP, NOT IN – Marilyn Armstrong

I almost quit any number of times. I didn’t smoke a lot. Less than a pack a day and eventually I got it down to five or six a day and sometimes less. The problem with cigarettes is that one day, for no special reason, you realize you smoked an entire pack. You just sort of forgot you had quit.

In my long and checkered professional career, I had many bosses. One of them had, in a former life, been addicted to heroin. It wasn’t a secret. We all knew because he told us. I had the feeling he was proud of having kicked drugs and was now the owner of a software development company. I asked him how he did it, how he got free of his addiction.

“You know,” he said, “It really wasn’t as hard as you might think. Mostly, I had to get away from the people, from other junkies, and the world of drugs. After I stopped hanging out with those people, getting off drugs was relatively easy. It’s the culture that pulls you in even more than the drugs.”

“I wish,” he continued, a touch of wistfulness in his voice, “It was as easy to kick cigarettes. When you hang out with junkies, you know it’s illegal. You sneak around. You are careful. But cigarettes? No problem. They’re legal. Grab a buddy and go for a smoke. It’s a social thing.

“You don’t hear heroin addicts saying to each other ‘Hey, anyone want to go out back and shoot up?’ but you can stop by another smoker’s desk and say … ‘Hey, want to go have a butt?’

“I’ve had a much harder time quitting smoking than I had quitting heroin. Much harder,” he said and reached for the pack of cigarettes in his pocket. He did soon thereafter, quit. He decided having kicked narcotics, he could kick cigarettes too. So he did.

I was a smoker myself, then. I had been trying to quit for years. I’d quit, then I’d be somewhere where other smokers worked. I’d get sucked into it. It wasn’t the physical addiction that lured me. I understood how bad it was for my health, disastrous to my budget and getting more costly each day. It made my clothing and hair smell like a dirty ashtray. It was the social connection that got me. Hanging out with other smokers. The rhythm of smoking. I’d write, then take a break, grab a smoke. It was part of my process.

I was never as heavy a smoker other people I knew. I lit many more cigarettes than I smoked. But I enjoyed smoking. I liked the smell of fresh tobacco. I liked standing outside on a crisp night, watching my smoke curl up and away into the sky.

I did a lot of my thinking on cigarette breaks. When I was writing, if I was stuck, I’d have a smoke. By the time I was halfway through it, I’d know what I was going to do and how I would do it.

Smoking-Burning-CigaretteIt took me years of quitting, backsliding, and quitting again before it finally “stuck.” Years before the smell of tobacco brought back memories without triggering a desire to smoke.

I am sure today, after more than ten years if I were to smoke one cigarette, I’d be a smoker. Again. It’s not unlike being an alcoholic. One drink and you’re a drunk again.

It’s not because I’m physically addicted. After all these years of not smoking, I’m obviously not addicted to nicotine, if I ever was. Yet on some level, I will always be addicted to cigarettes.

It would probably be easier to quit now since most offices are smoke-free. That being said, it’s not that I don’t want a cigarette. I just don’t smoke.

THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT: A LOVE STORY – EDWARD LEAR

The Owl and the Pussycat

by Edward Lear

I

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
‘O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!’

II

Pussy said to the Owl, ‘You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?’
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there, in a wood, a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

III

‘Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?’ Said the Piggy, ‘I will.’
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

APRIL REALLY WAS THE CRUELEST MONTH: THE WASTE LAND, BY T.S. ELLIOT

I tell people I don’t like poetry. That’s not exactly true. I do like poetry. I like funny poems, I like poems that remind me of things that were important but have faded in memory. I don’t like my own poetry, even though when I was a teenager, I wrote a lot of it. I have to admit to a youthful passion for Ferlinghetti and ee cummings. Also, T.S. Eliot and occasionally, Ezra Pound, especially when they weren’t taking themselves too seriously.

And because he was so very much New England’s own poet,  Robert Frost. We even have an Eisenstadt (original) photograph of him in the house. Garry interviewed him during his last years. He understood this strange part of the world and the crazy people who live here. He understood the woods and the rocks and the roots and the snow.

Today, however, I am treating you to a T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” which opens with a line to which at long last, we can all relate: April is the cruellest month.

It has been a cruel month and sadly, although we have slid into May, the cruelty has not finished with us. When T.S. Eliot wasn’t writing about cats, he was not an easy read.

The Waste Land

FOR EZRA POUND
IL MIGLIOR FABBRO

              I. The Burial of the Dead

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.

Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the arch-duke’s,
My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.


HOISTED ON A WHAT? Marilyn Armstrong

Last night I said to Garry “Aha! He is hoisted upon his own petard!” And Nat Helms wrote a piece about Trump hoisted on his own petard. But really, how many of us have the slightest idea what a petard is or was? I didn’t know until … (gasp) … I looked it up.


“What,” I asked Garry, “Is a petard?”

“I have no idea,” said my husband. This is when I realized I’ve been using this expression my whole life and didn’t know what it meant. Petard sounds French, but what is it? I grabbed my laptop and typed  “hoist on his … ” into Google. Before I got to petard … up it came. Don’t you just love it when that happens?

petards

Voila! Courtesy of Wikipedia, here is the rest of the story.

petard was a bomb used to blow up gates and walls when breaching fortifications. Castles. Walled cities. That sort of thing. The word was originally (duh) French and dates to the sixteenth century.

Typically, a petard was metal (bronze or iron), shaped like a cone or box. Filled with two or three kilos (5 or 6 pounds) of gunpowder and using a slow match for a fuse, the petard was a primitive, powerful and unstable explosive device.

After being filled with gunpowder, it would be attached to a wooden base and fastened to a wall, on or under a gate. The fuse was lit. If all went as planned, the explosion would blow a hole big enough to let assault troops through.

Thus the phrase “hoist on his/her own petard” came to mean “harmed by one’s own plan to harm someone else.” It suggests you could be lifted — hoisted — by your own bomb.

FANDANGO’S PROVOCATIVE QUESTION VIA BLOGGING INSIGHTS #26 – Marilyn Armstrong

Blogging Insights — What’s Next?

Here are the original questions:

BLOGGING INSIGHTS -QUESTIONS:

What suggestions / tipsdo you have for improving/upgrading this series?Do you have any questions that you would like me to feature?

If you are new to the Blogging Insights series, how about trying out some of the questions?There is no time limit so feel free to answer any whenever you please. 

Remember to tag your post #blogging insightsand also linkback to my blog. This will make sure that I do not miss out on reading your views and will also enable me to share your posts on my blog. You can check out the previous questions by clicking on the links below:

https://saltedcaramel670.wordpress.com/2019/12/30/blogging-insights-recap-2/

https://saltedcaramel670.wordpress.com/2020/03/16/blogging-insights-2nd-recap/

I’ve been following this series through other blogs. It pops up pretty often. I think you are doing just fine. I don’t want to put ideas in your head because I think your ideas are good and your own creativity will find the right way.

Seven orchids on a shoot

Blogging isn’t just something we do because we have nothing more interesting to do. And we each have our own reasons, often many different reasons. It’s a hobby, an avocation, a dedication, an art form, a post-occupation-occupation — all at the same time.

That’s probably why we like to ask each other about blogging and why you do it which makes me think about why I do it. For those of us who are retired, it has become our new occupation after giving up whatever it is we used to do. Since before this, I was a writer, I am now truly enjoying this busman’s holiday.

Three on the yellow feeder

I started out doing this because I had a ton of pictures and no one ever saw them because they were all on my computer. I figured what the heck, I might as well publish them where others might enjoy them. It became a good reason for spending way too much money on cameras and lenses and the urge for better and better cameras and lenses and processing software never ends.

In this age of Trump and the crushing of everything I believed in, not to mention the eruption of our very own plague, I’ve felt that I need to not just post pretty pictures, but talk about the world. Climate change. Oppression. Racism. The hatred that seems to bind us tighter than love ever could.

I keep hearing that all we need is love, but that’s a song lyric, not a meaningful way of life. We need a lot more than love. We certainly can love people who aren’t our personal family or friends a lot more than we do, but that’s not going to fix the ozone layer or bring back the dying creatures our “development” of the wild places have killed. I fear that in the end, this world will be entirely paved over with roads running from an empty mall to another empty mall.

And if that isn’t scary enough, we need to get serious about figuring out how we can support all these PEOPLE. We are so over-populated, it’s terrifying. You know when you crowd the rats this much, they start to try to kill each other. Periodically Garry and I congratulate each other on having the sense to get OUT of Boston. With all the limitations of living in the middle of nowhere, it’s a whole lot easier on the nervous system than any city anywhere.

Today I write as much because I think there are important issues that need to be talked about. It’s not just about trashing the president. He’ll be gone soon enough. But clearly, we need to hate less and care more. The world has become ugly and greedy. For there to be subsequent generations of humans, we need to be a lot less ugly and massively less greedy. So I figure I have a small, but living bully pulpit and I might as well use it. And I can still post pretty pictures. I wouldn’t want to stress everyone out.

So for me, what’s next is to do the best I can do. Write, create pictures, count the flying squirrels, and hope I can keep affording food for the creatures of the woods.

FOR INSOMNIACS AND OWNERS OF BARKING DOGS – Marilyn Armstrong

Come Sleep, O Sleep …

Come, Sleep! O Sleep, the certain knot of peace,
The baiting-place of wit, the balm of woe,
The poor man’s wealth, the prisoner’s release,
The indifferent judge between the high and low;
With shield of proof shield me from out the press
Of those fierce darts
Despair at me doth throw!
Oh, make in me those civil wars to cease!—
I will good tribute pay if thou do so.
Take thou of me smooth pillows, sweetest bed,
A chamber deaf of noise and blind of light,
A rosy garland, and a weary head;
And if these things, as being thine in right,
Move not thy heavy grace, thou shalt in me,
Livelier than elsewhere, Stella’s image see.

Sir Philip Sidney

It’s a sunny day! Not a bird was in the sky! Well, sort of.

– – –

Note: If you are reading this sonnet out loud, “press” in Elizabethan English was pronounced “preese” to rhyme with release. Or anyway, that’s what my perfesser at collitch said.

Note 2: If your dogs bark all night, one day you will be so tired, you’ll sleep through it. That’s a promise!

AN ARRAY OF PAST FLOWERS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOTD – April 23 – Past Flowers

It’s another grey, cold day. I’m not yearning for flowers as a dedicated gardener. I just long for color. It has been gray and often very dark gray almost all the time since last December. No snow all winter. A little in late autumn and very early December, then nothing until … April?

Solomon’s Seal

I cannot entirely blame climate change for our messy, cold, wet spring because spring is an awful season in New England. Everyone used to call it “Mud Season.” First, you’d get snow that lasted from Thanksgiving until late March or mid-April, then it would melt, often accompanied by torrential rains and a wet basement.

I also comforted myself by pointing out to me that at least we weren’t going to run out of water. Because from May or June through August, there was little or no rain at all.

Lilac

We went one year with not a single rainy day in May to one of two in June, so by August everything was tinder-dry. We were lucky to not have any fires. We did have a pretty big one last month, but they got it put out fast. Afterward, it rained heavily for a few days, which really put the sodden finishing touches on it.

Columbine

We had a ridiculously warm winter with the kind of torrential rain and wind we normally reserve for our so-to-speak spring. Then, it turned cold. Most of the winter was in the fifties and sixties and periodically, the 70s.

As soon as it became “technically” spring, the temperature at night dropped into the 30s and occasionally even colder and even in the middle of the day, it was only in the low 40s. This can be bearable if the sun would shine. I don’t need sun every day, but once in a while would be nice, especially if we got two days in a row without a storm!

Since our flowers are more than a little pathetic, I thought I’d find flowers of the past. Maybe I’ll feel warmer. You think?

Chinese lily

The Flowers

From Child’s Garden of Verses

– – –

All the names I know from nurse:

Gardener’s garters, Shepherd’s purse

Bachelor’s buttons, Lady’s smock

And the Lady Hollyhock

Tiny trees for tiny dames —

These must be fairy names!

Tiny woods below whose boughs

Shady fairies weave a house;

Tiny tree-tops rose or thyme,

Where the braver fairies climb!

Fair are grown-up people’s trees,

But the fairest woods are these;

Where, if I were not so tall,

I should live for good and all.

HOLLYWOOD AND MORAL CHARACTER – Marilyn Armstrong

Blitzen Trapper

How stupid are we? This post in its various permutations has gotten nearly 5,000 hits. Not recently, but in the first few years of posting.

For several years, whenever I got more than 1000 hits in about half an hour, I knew that they must be rebroadcasting the eighth season’s first episode of Criminal Minds. I’ve written more than 10,500 posts, but this one always got the most hits.

So, it must be the perfect time to re-post this piece. The question is whether or not the plot used in the premier show of season 8 of “Criminal Minds” is based on a song by a group named Blitzen Trapper, whose lead singer/lyricist is Eric Earley. This comes up each time the show airs, which is how come I get all these hits on that post.

To settle the issue, one of my correspondents was a producer on Criminal Minds. He assured me the group is being compensated and nothing underhanded is going on. I’m grateful to discover things are not as bad as they seem. It’s rare. Usually, whatever is going on is worse than I imagined.

A screenshot of the BAU Team on the jet.

A screenshot of the BAU Team on the jet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve gotten a bunch of emails from people who seem otherwise intelligent yet against all reason think conglomerates would never take advantage of we “little people,” and certainly would never commit (gasp) plagiarism.

What makes this belief bizarre is that the corporations under discussion are run for and by people in show business. Unless my correspondents are living on a different planet than me, why would they think this? Have these people displayed such high moral character that they are incapable of illegal or immoral behavior? Could anyone be that naïve? Remember Harvey Weinstein? Or for that matter, Jack Warner? And lord knows how many casting directors for television and movies.

Apparently yes, they really are that stupid.

Big corporations spend millions of dollars on public relations and advertising campaigns designed to convince us they have our best interests at heart. They are entitled to give it their best shot, but why would anyone believe them? In what way has any corporation ever shown itself to be on any side but its own?


As for show business folks? These are not people famous for moral turpitude. They are sexual predators, so plagiarism is nothing to them. I don’t know a writer with hopes of breaking into “the business” who hasn’t had a piece of work stolen. Here’s how it works.

You go for an interview. You bring your story idea, your script, manuscript, lyrics, arrangement, proposal, whatever. You present it to the person to whom you hope to sell it. You make your pitch, praying this is the big score you’ve been waiting for. Alas, it is another rejection. You’re used to rejection. It comes with the territory.

A few months later, a new television series is introduced that has an identical storyline to the one you were trying to sell to that very production studio. A few relatively minor details have been altered, but you recognize it and so do all your friends.

What shall you do, eh? You’re going to sue the studio? Take the network to court? Bring suit against the record label? You have that kind of money and clout? If you were pitching your material, you are probably broke. They’ve got armies of lawyers. You’ve got your paycheck and tips from waiting on tables while you try to get into the business. Only in the Bible does David win. In the big wide world, Goliath always wins.

There is a great deal of plagiarism in television and movies, so much that the relevant lawsuits rarely make the news anymore.

In the software world, accusations of intellectual property theft have reached the point where, after endless legal battles between Microsoft and Apple, every major manufacturer is suing every other manufacturer for copyright infringement. Who wins? Since everyone steals from everyone else and everyone is guilty to some extent, the winner is the company with the best lawyers or the most political influence. And of course, who paid off who.

Oh no, that doesn’t happen, you cry! Our legal system can’t be bought and sold. Right. And the tooth fairy left you a buck under your pillow last night. No really, she did. Honest! My congressman told me, so it must be true.

Public servants are as honest as the day is long. Corporations care about you and me. Hollywood and television executives are persons of the highest moral character. The moon is made of green cheese. Tomorrow I’m going to sprout wings and fly.

Just when I think maybe we aren’t as dumb as corporations think we are, I get letters from readers proving that too many people really are that dumb, or at least that naïve. I find this scary. These people are allowed to vote!

My signature line on email uses the following quote:

“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
– Robert Hanlon

In this case, for this show, I may have attributed to malice that which was in fact adequately explained by stupidity. That’s their excuse, but what excuse do you have for believing propaganda paid for by people who would squash you like a bug without a second thought?

I don’t get it. Maybe someone can explain it to me,

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE AND WHAT ARE YOU NOW? – Marilyn Armstrong

#Openbloghop: What did you want to be when you grew up versus what you are today?

I always wanted to be a writer though before I got the idea of writing, I wanted to be The Lone Ranger and be a horseback-riding crime fighter in the  Old West. Briefly, I though may a ballet dancer, but an utter lack of talent ended that in a hurry. Once I got a camera in my hands, I knew I would be a photographer … but always I wanted to be a writer, musician, and artist. Photography became my art and I played the piano reasonably well. Mostly though, I knew I would be a writer. I didn’t know what kind of writer. Maybe a great author? Nope.  My forte was not novels, but non-fiction.

I was a professional writer for all my professional life. Sometimes I was an editor and frequently, I did both at the same time. Photography was my hobby and remains so. For many years, I was also a pretty good pianist. I was not a professional-grade, but I was good at Scott Joplin and always ready to bang out carols at Christmas parties.

Now? I’m retired.

These days, staying alive is my primary goal. I write for this blog and take a lot of pictures. Top of the list? Birds and flowers.

I no longer play an instrument. Arthritis in my hands has made performing impossible and painful, but that isn’t especially unusual for a pianist. Playing piano is hard on hands. I started playing when I was only four, so my hands took a beating through the years. Add to that typing and eventually, the computer, my hands have lasted longer than I expected. If I’m careful, I can still use them.

Funny how retirement makes future plans and ambition pointless. My plans are no more than five years long. I don’t know if I’ll be around that long, but I live in hope. I’m pretty happy where I am, except for the government (they make me grind my teeth) and the roaming virus that would like to kill me.

So effectively, other than music, my life has been what I wanted it to be and probably will continue more or less — assuming I stay alive — the same. I’m satisfied. I did what I wanted to do and did it well enough to be proud of my work.

I didn’t become a great author, but that’s okay. I was good at what I did and I think I’m even better now.


April 8, 2020

What did you want to be when you grew up vs. what you are today?

Rules:
1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

BLACK PLAGUE POETRY – Marilyn Armstrong

Do you ever wonder where your nursery rhymes came from? This one, known as “Ring Around the Rosie,” was a poetic description of dying from Plague.

“Ring around the Rosie.
Pocket full of poesy.
Ashes, Ashes, we all fall down.”

The king has sent his daughter
To fetch a pail of water
A tissue, a tissue
We all fall down

The robin on the steeple
Is singing to the people
A tissue, a tissue
We all fall down

The wedding bells are ringing
The boys and girls are singing
A tissue, a tissue
We all fall down.

I notice that a lot of people are writing poems. Maybe they will be the nursery rhymes of the future.

THERE IS NO TRUTH IN THE SMALL PRINT – Marilyn Armstrong

The biggest lie we tell all the time is that when we check the box at the bottom we are agreeing to an interminable list of conditions that basically say whatever they say. What we know is if we do not sign, we can’t use the product.

It’s not a choice. It’s a mandate. So we pretend we read the legal shmaltz because we need to use the application or product and there’s no other way to do it.

But we don’t read it. No one reads it. Why bother? Check the box. You have to check it anyway.

I think once I made an effort to read the small print, but it was years ago when I thought there was a choice.

Now? I just check the box, like everyone else. Have you read those terms and conditions? Ever?