LET’S BE TWELVE AGAIN — Marilyn Armstrong

Someone asked me what I would do if I were twelve again. Twelve. A little too young to be a teenager, too old to be a ‘child.’ It’s the middle-age of childhood. There might be a few things I could do — or, more to the point — NOT do that might make old age feel less old. I could avoid those events where I broke my back, for example. Or maybe not. We all know that changing the past doesn’t usually work. Somehow, you either don’t exist at all, or whatever happens lands you back in the same place you were in anyway.

But I’m up for a try, as long as I don’t have to go back to school. Ever.

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I’ve got all the diplomas I’ll ever need. I’m an adult. I get Social Security. Pensions. And never to be forgotten, Senior discounts. At 12 I had my full height and was a smart as I would ever be. I looked old for my age anyway.

Smarter. We reach our maximum intelligence in our early teens. It seems like a waste, but it isn’t really. That’s when we are collecting the knowledge that will enable us to decide what want to do with the rest of our lives. In this case, I already know.

I know what I want and I know how to get there.  I know what to avoid, which may be the most important part. It’s a perfect second life. With all the body parts still working and foreknowledge of what may come.

To the good part. A 12-year-old body you say? Before I broke my back. I get the chance to protect my spine and avoid the big issues I’m facing now.

There are some issues to be worked out. Young, growing bodies have needs. But in my head, I’m old and wily, so I know what to do. I have the body of a youngster, the brain of a senior. Oh, joy. This is the best of both worlds! Garry would be 17 — just about to go into the Marines. This wouldn’t be fun without him.

We will have legs that can run and minds that remember everything. But this time, without dysfunctional parents and all those stupid rules?

Bring it ON! I am so ready.

MOONSETTING AS THE SUN RISES – Marilyn Armstrong

I used to long for many things. Later, I did most of them. Now they are memories. No need for longing.

These past few years have been difficult. For once, not because of illness of dire poverty, but because the world tipped over and I’ve been clinging to the edges.

In the yearning department, I’ll settle for simple things. Warm weather. Bright skies. This morning, very early — just before five — the sun was rising as the moon was finishing her travels across the night sky.

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The moon longed for me. She told me so.

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At least, I believe that is what she said. Sometimes, when the moon speaks, her language is strange and not entirely clear.

What do you think?

UNDAUNTED ANGELIQUE – Marilyn Armstrong

“Nounou,” inquired Angelique, “Why did Giles de Retz kill so many children?”

With these words, one of the world’s greatest series of historical fiction begins. It is a translation from French. I have been told that much was lost in a not-very-good translation. But I don’t read well enough in French. Once, I did, but that was a very long time ago.

angelique book cover

Nothing will change the way I feel about these books. Most were written long years ago. I read the first of them when I was 13. I still have the book, though the binding is broken and the pages are beginning to turn to dust.

The first book was published in 1957 and I read it in 1960. In those days, I lived in books. I didn’t have friends. I was too different. I’ve always been out of step. Sometimes, a lot, occasionally almost catching up with my peers. But back then … I was weird.

Then I met Angelique.


The fifth child of an impoverished country nobleman, Angélique de Sancé grows up in the Poitou marshlands, a region known as the “Green Venice”, halfway between the ocean and the forests. She is a free child, as one with the forest and the marshes, discovering nature’s healing secrets with the help of the witch Mélusine. Her logical destiny would be to marry a poor country nobleman, have children and spend her life fighting for a meager subsistence.

Destiny has other plans in store for her. At 17, when she returns from the convent where she has been getting an education, she finds herself betrothed to the wealthy count of Toulouse, Joffrey de Peyrac. He is 12 years her senior, lame, scarred and rumored to be a wizard.

from the review by Harvey Adkins


Angélique’s life and adventures inspired me and gave me courage.

angelique pages book

Thus the story begins. In subsequent volumes, they will take you through most of the world of Louis XIV. Joffrey becomes the love of Angélique’s life. After he is burned at the stake for heresy (and for being too politically powerful), Angélique finds herself homeless, penniless, with babies to protect in the underworld of Paris. Yet she rises up from the gutters back to the glittering court of Louis XIV. Confronts him on the murder of her husband, rebels against him, leads a group of Huguenots to the New World. Builds a colony, fights emissaries of the church and King to retain her freedom. Along the way, she has children — from a variety of fathers, including one resulting from rape — and one is murdered.

With all the power of Crown and Church arrayed against her, Angélique finds a way through and emerges victorious. Bowed, but never beaten. Her defeats are temporary setbacks, her triumphs change the world.

She is deathlessly beautiful. If you are a woman taking on the world, it’s never bad to have golden hair and hypnotic green eyes. But Angélique doesn’t win the day using sex. When she leads, she carries a gun and a sword. She will kill in defense of her own (and does). She will fight for her family, her home, her beliefs.

She became much more than a fictional character to me. At a time when female role models were few and far between, Angélique was fearless. Unstoppable. No simpering lady of fashion, she was tough. Smart. She suffered the worst life could dish out. She faced down unspeakable challenges. And there were casualties.

Back in the real world, author Anne Golan was fighting her publisher for the rights to her books.

Anne Golon was born 17 December 1921 as Simone Changeux in Toulon, France. She published her first novel at 18 as Joëlle Danterne. During World War II, she traveled by bicycle through France and Spain writing under various pen-names. She helped create France Magazine. Was sent to Africa as a journalist, where she met Vsevolod Sergeïvich Goloubinoff, her husband, Serge Golon.

angelique french editionThey collaborated on Angélique. Anne wrote. Serge did the considerable research required by these surprisingly accurate books. The first book in the series was an astounding success. The books were credited to Serge and Anne Golon, (Sergeanne Golon), the names having been merged by publishers who were reluctant to print books written by women.

In 1972, Anne and Serge Golon went to Canada to continue research. Anne wrote Angélique and the Ghosts. Serge died.

Anne continued writing and raising her 4 children. Between 1972 and 1985, she wrote four more books. While battling Hachette for unpaid royalties and rights, Anne Golon lived in extreme poverty. She finally won, leaving her sole owner of the works.

These are the books which were translated into English:

Angélique, The Marquise of the Angels
Angélique: The Road to Versailles (US and the UK with the 1st volume, Angélique)
Angélique and the King
Angélique and the Sultan (aka, Angélique in Barbary)
Angélique in Revolt
Angélique in Love
The Countess Angélique
The Temptation of Angélique (In Canada as: The Temptation of Angélique 1: The Jesuit Trap, The Temptation of Angélique 2: The Downfall of Goldbeard)
Angélique and the Demon
Angélique and the Ghosts.

The English translation of this series stopped abruptly with Angélique and the Ghosts. Anne Golon’s fans — like their fictional heroine — wanted to know what had happened to the author. We found her, in Paris, alive, well, and still writing. We learned — as of August, 2009 — there were three yet-untranslated books already in the series:

Angélique à Quebec
Angélique: Route de L’Espoir
Victoire d’Angélique

Ms. Golon also announced 2 more books: Royaume de France, (“Kingdom of France”) to follow Victoire, and a 15th and final volume, yet untitled. None of these has been translated. English-language readers — like me — have waited more than 35 years. An entire lifetime during which I have gone from adolescent to a senior citizen.

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I’ve read thousands of books during these long years, but never lost hope for translations of the new Angélique book. Anne Golon is well into her 90s, but like Angélique herself, nothing short of Death himself can stop this remarkable woman.

The Angélique fan group to which I belonged fell apart some years back. There were deaths. Surviving members squabbled. You can still find information at Angélique Books.

It’s not easy to find intact copies of the books, but if you are interested, don’t give up. Amazon has some. ABE Books often has copies. And there’s eBay.

Maybe there will be new copies eventually. I hope to see them republished. Soon would be good, because none of us are getting any younger.


July 2017: I just read that Anne Golon passed away on Friday at the age of 95. She was writing until the end. She inspired me as a girl and instilled the belief I could do anything a man could do. She was a wind behind my back for a lifetime. If you read French, there is an article in Figaro here.

YOUR PERMANENT RECORD — ON FILE FOREVER

Last night, watching Star Trek: Next Generation, Geordi La Forge (Levar Burton) disobeyed a direct order given by Captain Stewart, er, I mean, Jean-Luc Picard. Although he survived his misadventure — barely, I might add — Picard told Geordi that regretfully, he was going to have to “put this incident on your permanent record!”

Oh my god! His permanent record. Even in Star Fleet, you cannot escape your permanent record. It’s four hundred years in the future and they still have that record.

Back in our golden olden days, the thing that was held over our heads — the Sword of Damocles — was that our bad behavior would go on our permanent record. From elementary school through our working years, we were warned our permanent record would follow us. Marks against us might even (gasp!) prevent us from getting into college  in which case we knew we might as well die on the spot. If you didn’t go to college, you would never have a decent job or a life worth living. I knew it in the marrow of my bones. Didn’t you?

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The Permanent Record is (was) (will be) like a rock. Unchanging. No matter what we do with our lives, everyone can find out about our misdeeds, even those from Kindergarten. Kind of like Wikileaks for every living human being. What an appalling thought!

All anyone anywhere needs to do is check the record. They’ll know I sassed my eleventh grade social studies teacher (he deserved worse) in May 1962. That Garry ran over his allotted time while reporting a news event in Boston and was not even repentant when confronted with his foul deed! Every evil we have done through our life will be revealed.

So, here’s the deal.

Now and forever, every one of us has a permanent record in which all our misbehavior is cataloged. I know because I’ve been told. I’m not sure who has custody of these records, however. As far as I can tell, everyone on the planet has one, so there must be a gigantic storage unit somewhere, where everything is filed. That’s hundreds of million of records to keep on file for eternity. Maybe trillions, zillions or gazillions.

permanent-record-file

I expect when we die, if there actually are Pearly Gates and an immortal gatekeeper who decides if we may or may not enter, he or she will be clutching a copy of our permanent record in one angelic hand.

That’s right. You talked back to your teacher in fifth grade, cut biology class in high school. Told a professor the dog ate your final paper in college. Now, you won’t go to Heaven.

Sorry pal. Your permanent record finally caught up with you.

THE DAILY POST | RECORD

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH …

A gray day in Uxbridge, Massachusetts. It’s cold, damp, sunless. Nothing to do. Not even something to bark at. The humans are drinking coffee and doing stuff on their computers. Nothin’ to do in this burgh.

Bonnie watches and waits.

Bonnie watches and waits.

Every now and again, Gibbs — our very special agent — goes out to patrol the yard. Barks a few times to make sure his presence is known. Bonnie watches from the window. Since Gibbs moved in, she sees no reason to go on patrol. That’s clearly his job. But in the evening, when the barks fill the air from far and wide, Bonnie is out there, communicating on the doggish network. Getting the news of the day, passing along any juicy gossip she may have. She expects Gibbs to come too. She gives him a short bark, and he leaps to his feet. When Bonnie says “jump,” Gibbs doesn’t even ask “how high.” He just jumps.

Bonnie agrees with Johnny Rocco: "I'll never have enough!"

Bonnie agrees with Johnny Rocco: “I’ll never have enough!”

We think of a day like this as peaceful. I guess for the dawgz, it’s boring. No squirrels to chase, though now that I’ve repaired Squeaky Squirrel and he is back in action, mauling him is always an option. I had to do some serious stitching with super strong button thread. I also un-stuffed his tail and removed the second squeaker from it to make eviscerating squirrel less tempting. So far, so good. Squirrel is still in the game.

Garry cradles a newly sutured squirrel, but fears for his future.

Garry cradles a newly sutured squirrel, but fears for his future.

Missing an ear and oddly misshapen where I was forced to suture sections of him to other sections that were never meant to be sewn together. I look like that under my clothing too. When they had to put me back together, they had the same problem, so they stitched whatever they had to whatever else they had.

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My abdomen looks as if I was mauled by a wild animal. I tell them I was taken by a lion while we were on safari in Botswana. Why not? It’s a lot much more entertaining than the truth and a lot simpler to explain. When they ask for details, I tell them “It all happened so fast. Once he had me in his jaws, it was just a blur.” That usually ends the conversation.

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So it’s quiet on the home front. We are all inside. There’s coffee to drink, sandwich makings, and a decent steak for dinner.

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A little bit boring, but only if you are a dog. For the humans, days like this are the best part of life.

INTERIOR | DAILY POST

CHAOS AS THE ARROW BATTLES ON

Garry and I have been binge-watching DC comic book hero shows. It started innocently enough, but now it’s a full-scale immersion. First, we dipped a toe in the waters and watched a single season of “The Flash.” We had three seasons of “Arrow” on Netflix, so we are almost finished with that. Hopefully, the next two seasons will be offered soon.

Arrow-Ollie-3

Did I mention that we’re already watching “Supergirl”? Not sure what city she is in, but obviously, it’s nearby. Not Gotham. Garry watches “Gotham” where baby Batman is learning to be super-duper. It’s so confusing!

We are almost done with our three Arrow seasons. The show has gone from moderately intelligent and occasionally funny, to All-Violence-All-the-Time and … well … a bit (more than a bit) dumb. Oliver Queen, our not-very-secret hero (who in Starling City doesn’t know he’s the Arrow?) seems to be getting increasingly stupid. Maybe it’s those explosions … or he doesn’t get his arrow polished often enough. Whatever.

Starling City 2

Ollie, or Oliver, aka The Arrow wants nothing more than to protect his loved ones and what’s left of Starling City from (further) harm.

I grew up in New York which has a bad (undeserved) reputation as being especially violent and crime-ridden. Then I lived for a decade in Jerusalem where, according to the news, terrorism rules. Then I came back to Boston where … well … y’know, there was Whitey Bulger and the Irish “mafia” (oxymoron). If you could take the dangers inherent in all the cities in which I’ve lived , added their crime levels then multiplied them by 10, you would not come close to the peril of living in Starling City for a week.

Those people should go live somewhere else. Between the crazed assassins roaming the streets with automatic weapons, biological onslaughts of epic proportions, and scientists with earthquake machines. At least once each week, a quarter of the city is leveled.

Arrow-1

Starling has been under continuous attack by evil overlords of every stripe. The League of Assassins. That weird Aussie who was Oliver’s friend on The Island, but took some drug and then hunted Oliver for killing someone who he didn’t kill (someone else did it, but it’s complicated). Ollie’s mom was murdered. His father killed himself. His sister was murdered, but came back from the dead after Oliver agreed to become the new Demon Head of the League of Assassins (it’s very complicated). His girlfriend’s sister is currently dead, but I bet she’s coming back. She became an assassin, was briefly a superhero, and is now dead and buried, but on these shows? Who knows?

No one in this DC world stays dead, not even if you see their rotting corpse. Unless their contract with the network is finished, they WILL be back. Maybe with a new name and new role, but alive.

On the final show we watched last night, Ollie (the Arrow’s) friends are trying to rescue him (or escape?) from the secret, impregnable castle of the ultra-dangerous bad guys and Felicity (don’t worry about who’s who because it doesn’t really matter) said:

“I’ve watched a lot of movies, so I KNOW that there’s always a secret exit from the impregnable castle.” Wow, so that’s where she’s getting her information! I was wondering.

Arrow-Season-3-Poster

And finally, there’s Ollie, troubled by the feeling that he and “The League of Assassins” have a date with destiny, says: “I can’t escape feeling that everything in my life has led me here, to this place.”

Well, duh. Wherever you may be, everything led you there. Whether you are in the kitchen making a grilled cheese sandwich, or being inducted into the League of Assassins, everything led you to the current moment. True of everyone, everywhere because how else did you get there? Seriously?

Every character in these series has lost one or more people they love and is obsessed with revenge, which means destroying entire cities — or,  alternatively, trying to save the world. We’ve all suffered losses. I don’t know anyone who felt obliged to level a city because someone they cared about died.

You can get over this stuff without a high body count.

And if you were contemplating a move to Starling City? In a word? Don’t.

CHAOTIC | WORDPRESS REALLY LIKES THIS WORD — FOURTH TIME THIS YEAR!

MILLIONS OF PERMANENT RECORDS ON FILE FOREVER

Last night, watching Star Trek: Next Generation, Geordi La Forge (Levar Burton) disobeyed a direct order given by Captain Stewart, er, I mean, Jean-Luc Picard. Although he survived his misadventure — barely, I might add — Picard told Geordi that regretfully, he was going to have to “put this incident on your permanent record!”

Oh my god! His permanent record. Even in Star Fleet, you cannot escape your permanent record. It’s four hundred years in the future and they still have that record.

Back in our golden olden days, the thing that was held over our heads — the Sword of Damocles — was that our bad behavior would go on our permanent record. From elementary school through our working years, we were warned our permanent record would follow us. Marks against us might even (gasp!) prevent us from getting into college  in which case we knew we might as well die on the spot. If you didn’t go to college, you would never have a decent job or a life worth living. I knew it in the marrow of my bones. Didn’t you?

72-At-Sunset-MAR-Superstition-011316_409

The Permanent Record is (was) (will be) like a rock. Unchanging. No matter what we do with our lives, everyone can find out about our misdeeds, even those from Kindergarten. Kind of like Wikileaks for every living human being. What an appalling thought!

All anyone anywhere needs to do is check the record. They’ll know I sassed my eleventh grade social studies teacher (he deserved worse) in May 1962. That Garry ran over his allotted time while reporting a news event in Boston and was not even repentant when confronted with his foul deed! Every evil we have done through our life will be revealed.

So, here’s the deal.

Now and forever, every one of us has a permanent record in which all our misbehavior is cataloged. I know because I’ve been told. I’m not sure who has custody of these records, however. As far as I can tell, everyone on the planet has one, so there must be a gigantic storage unit somewhere, where everything is filed. That’s hundreds of million of records to keep on file for eternity. Maybe trillions, zillions or gazillions.

permanent-record-file

I expect when we die, if there actually are Pearly Gates and an immortal gatekeeper who decides if we may or may not enter, he or she will be clutching a copy of our permanent record in one angelic hand.

That’s right. You talked back to your teacher in fifth grade, cut biology class in high school. Told a professor the dog ate your final paper in college. Now, you won’t go to Heaven.

Sorry pal. Your permanent record finally caught up with you.

THE DAILY POST | MILLIONS

HIKING THE HALLWAYS OF MEMORY

HIKE | THE DAILY POST

Every night, I fill up my cup, grab my bag o’ medications, pet the puppies, and hike the hallway to the bedroom at the other end of the house.

After arriving, I put the bag where it belongs. Adjust the bed to its TV viewing angle. Turn on the television for Garry. He watches with headphones while I read or listen to an audiobook. I fire up my blue-tooth speaker.

BEDROOM SOUTH 7

I divide up the nighttime medications into two cups, his and mine. The cups are actually lids from medicine bottles, but I they are convenient. I put Garry’s  antihistamines in one, all my stuff in the other. My stuff includes the rest of my blood pressure meds plus whatever I’m taking to keep my arthritis from solidifying.

I never remember everything. I forget to turn off the fans in the living room pretty much every night. I sit on the edge of the bed trying to remember what I should have done but didn’t. “Ah,” I think. “Fans.” I hike to the living room. Turn off the fans. Pet the dogs. Assure them they are not getting another biscuit no matter how cute they are.

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Back down the hall. Brush teeth. Sit on the edge of the bed. Oh, right. I have to refill the antihistamine bottle. It’s empty. Back to the kitchen where the huge bottle is stored. Fending off the dogs, I amble back to the bedroom. I put the various medications in the little cups and get the nagging feeling I’ve forgotten something else. Like … I didn’t close the kitchen door. It’s a dutch door and we leave the top of it open during the day to catch the breeze. Tonight, it’s supposed to rain so I should close it.

Up the hall to the kitchen. Close door. Pet dogs. Back to bedroom.

Garry shows up, having done whatever it is he does for however long he does it in the bathroom. I hand him his two pills. He takes them and settles into watching highlights of the Sox game, followed by a movie or something. I turn on my book.

Forty-five minutes later, I’ve got a headache. I’m not sleepy and everything hurts. Why are my medications not working? There’s nothing more I can take. Panic is setting in.

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Which is when I realize all the pills are still in the cup. What with all the hiking up and down the hall, I never took them. Probably explains why they aren’t working.

I laughed. Continued laughing for a while. Garry took off his headphones long enough for me to explain why. I got to the punchline, he looked at me and said: “You hadn’t taken it, right? Yup, that’s classic.” He smiled. Nodded. Put the headphones back in place.

As our memory — collectively and individually — gets less dependable, we have substituted routines and calendars. I take one of my medications only once a week, so I have a calendar reminder. All appointments are on that calendar, Garry’s and mine, because otherwise, we will forget. No maybe. Forgetting has become normal.

If we do everything the same way at the same time every day, we’re much less likely to forget. Still, it can be pretty funny.

Yesterday, we were watching a show that included a dog. Garry assumes I know every dog breed at a glance. He’s right. I know the breeds, but these days, I may not remember its name. I will usually remember the group — guarding, herding, hunting, hound, terrier, non-sporting (“other”), toy. If I can remember that, I can go to the AKC site, find the group, scroll the list and find the dog. But they’ve changed the AKC website, so it’s not as easy as it used to be. I wish they’d stop fixing stuff that isn’t broken.

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I knew the dog that Garry was asking about was the same as the dog Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) had on his show. The dog’s name was Eddy. I remembered that. No problem. The breed name was on the edge of my brain, but not coming into focus. I gave up and Googled it.

Search for: “Breed of dog on Frasier TV show.”

Except I couldn’t remember the name of the TV show, either. So I first had to find the name of the show.

Search for: “long-running comedy on TV about psychiatrist.”

Up popped Frasier. Phew. I could have also found it by looking up that other long-running comedy, “Cheers,” in which Frasier first showed up as a character, but I couldn’t remember its name either.

One of these days, I’m going to have to Google my own name. I hope I find it.

MUNDANE MONDAY WITH A BOUNCY ZING

It was my granddaughter’s 20th birthday celebration over the weekend. For everyone who was sure as soon as the calendar flipped to September that the heat would dissipate and we’d have crisp, autumn weather, they were wrong. We are getting cooler nights, but our days have been quite hot and sticky.

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Saturday, party day, was rather warm. Also, very bright. It was afternoon and we were on the south side of the house (where the lawn is) and the sun was relentless. I’m not good in hot weather. I never really was and the older I get, the less I can tolerate it so we left fairly early, but not before I managed to get almost a hundred pictures!

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Bouncy house!

Birthday woman ... not a girl anymore :-)

Birthday woman … not a girl anymore 🙂

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How about a dip?

It was a good party. For a bit of zing, there was a “bouncy house.” You’d be surprised at how many grownups find bouncing adds zing to their  lives. I’m not a bouncer. I would bounce once, fall down, and have to be extracted. But I think I captured the essence of party and zing.

MUNDANE MONDAY CHALLENGE

ZING! | THE DAILY POST

SUPERHEROES OF STARLING CITY

Here is my post about superheroes. It does not discuss minorities, women, racial diversity, or any serious issues. It’s about superhero TV series’. I apologize for my shallowness, but I can’t get worked up about the larger cultural issues of super-heroism. So, in honor of this week’s Daily Prompt Discover challenge – Superhero …


All through the spring of this year, Garry and I were binge-watching DC comic book superhero shows. It started innocently enough, but developed into a full immersion. First, we dipped a toe in the waters and watched a single season of “The Flash.” We had three seasons of “Arrow” on Netflix, so we finished that. The next two seasons haven’t shown up, but I think we’ve probably had enough “Arrow.” For now.

Arrow-Ollie-3

Did I mention that we were already watching “Supergirl”? Not sure what city she is in, but obviously, it’s nearby. Not Gotham. Garry watches “Gotham” where baby Batman is learning to be super. It’s so confusing!

During the three Arrow seasons we watched, the show went from reasonably smart and witty, to All-Violence-All-the-Time. Oliver Queen, the not-very-secret superhero (who in Starling City doesn’t know he’s the Arrow?) seemed to be getting increasingly dumb. Maybe it’s all those explosions. Whatever.

Starling City 2

Ollie, or Oliver, aka The Arrow, wants nothing more than to protect his loved ones and what’s left of Starling City from (further) harm.

I grew up in New York which has a bad (undeserved) reputation as being particularly violent and crime-ridden. Then I lived for a decade in Jerusalem where, according to the news, terrorism rules. Then I came back to Boston where … well … y’know, there was Whitey Bulger and the Irish “mafia.” If you could take the dangers inherent in all the cities in which I’ve lived, added their crime rates together then multiplied by ten, you would not come close to the perils of living in Starling City for a week.

Those people should go live somewhere else. Between the crazed assassins roaming the streets with automatic weapons, biological onslaughts of epic proportions, and scientists with earthquake machines, At least a quarter of Starling City is leveled every episode. I’m surprised there’s any city left.

Arrow-1

Starling has been under continuous attack by evil overlords of every stripe. The League of Assassins. That weird Aussie who was Oliver’s friend on The Island, but took some drug and then hunted Oliver for killing someone he didn’t kill (someone else did it, but it’s complicated). Ollie’s mom was murdered. His father killed himself. His sister was murdered, but came back from the dead after Oliver agreed to become the new Demon Head of the League of Assassins (it’s very complicated). His girlfriend’s sister is currently dead, but I bet she’s coming back. She became an assassin, was briefly a superhero, and is now dead and buried, but on these shows? Who knows?

No one in this DC world stays dead, not even if you see their rotting corpse. Unless their contract with the network is finished, they WILL be back. Maybe with a different name as their own evil twin, but alive.

On the final show we watched last night, Ollie (the Arrow’s) friends are trying to rescue him (or escape?) from the secret, impregnable castle of the ultra-dangerous bad guys and Felicity (don’t worry about who’s who because it doesn’t really matter) said:

“I’ve watched a lot of movies, so I KNOW that there’s always a secret exit from the impregnable castle.” Wow, so that’s where she’s getting her information! I was wondering.

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And finally, there’s Ollie, troubled by the feeling that he and “The League of Assassins” have a date with destiny, says: “I can’t escape feeling that everything in my life has led me here, to this place.”

Well, duh. Wherever you may be, everything led you there. Whether you are in the kitchen making a grilled cheese sandwich, or being inducted into the League of Assassins, everything led you to the current moment. True of everyone, everywhere because how else did you get there? Seriously?

Every character in these series has lost one or more people they love and is obsessed with revenge, which means destroying entire cities — or,  alternatively, trying to save the world. We’ve all suffered losses. I don’t know anyone who felt obliged to level a city because someone they cared about died.

You can get over this stuff without a high body count.

If you were contemplating a move to Starling City? In a word? Don’t.

LET THEM EAT …

“So let them eat cake,” Marie said, merriment dancing in her eyes.

The peasants found her statement revolting. After all, they had no cake. Nor eggs, flour, sugar, or any of those cute little plastic cake decorations.

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Exécution de Marie Antoinette le 16 Octobre 1793

Instead, they made Marie eat her words. Alas, but they were not a tasty treat.

THE DAILY POST | CAKE

NO VIRTUE IN VICE

I don’t have much in the way of thoughts about vice. I’m not even sure what it is any more. This morning, in one of those online chat things I do these days in lieu of actual conversations with customer service people, I discovered that “LYING” is only lying if I do it. If they tell me something that is completely untrue and I believe them, it is a misunderstanding. So when they said “We are fixing this and should have a solution soon” and they really meant “This is the way it’s going to be and we’re not going to change it. Ever.” And I believed them, it was my misunderstanding rather than their outright lie. I would normally have categorized it as “vice,” but give the state of the body politic and all the crap I see in the news, I’ve decided telling the truth versus lying is no longer meaningful. If I say something without any basis in fact and claim it’s the truth, but you later realize it is not the truth and, in fact, bears no relationship to truth as anyone understands it … it’s just a misunderstanding.

So how can there be vice if there is no truth?

Fortunately, there still is AD-vice, which is free. Sometimes, it even contains a particle of useful information. I hesitate to suggest that it might also be true because … well … you know … what IS truth?

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As the years have crept by, I have given up a lot of stuff, most of which (it turns out), I didn’t need in the first place. I gave up worrying. I gave up working. I gave up on the lottery, even though I still occasionally buy a ticket (just in case).

I gave up wanting a new car, expecting old friends to call (some of them don’t remember me any more — some don’t remember themselves). I’ve stopped hoping Hollywood will make movies I like. I’ve stopped trying to like “new” music, most new TV shows. Or hoping to remember the names of new “stars.”

Some stuff gave me up. Some people gave up on me. Other things, just slipped away. In the end, it’s the same.

So. Now. If anyone asks me how or why I have given up whatever it was, virtue, vice, or anything, I tell them it was for religious reasons. No one ever asks what I mean by that. But just so you know  …

It doesn’t mean anything.

It’s a misunderstanding. Not a lie. Just a way to end the conversation. No one wants to offend me by asking for details of my beliefs. They might turn out to be embarrassing or bizarre. Thus my all-purpose answer to everyone is “on religious grounds,” “for religious reasons,” or “on the advice of my spiritual counselor.”

These powerful words can make any conversation vanish and I never have to tell someone to shut up. It works on everyone except those who really know me. They will raise one or more eyebrows, and fall over laughing.

It’s similar to (but entirely different than) my all-purpose answer to “How are you?” With the biggest, broadest, fake smile I can muster and with heartfelt enthusiasm, I say: “I’m FINE!” 99.9% of the time, this does the job. Test drive it yourself.

I’m fine. For religious reasons.

VICE | THE DAILY POST

EXPERT ON MYSELF

I know a few things. Along the road of life, I’ve done a bit of reading and studying. Like many writers, I’m a generalist. I know about this, that, and the other thing. A good deal about some stuff, a little something about lots of stuff. Which makes me highly competitive at Trivial Pursuits. All that random knowledge ought to be good for something.

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I’m an expert at just one thing: me. I know my body. The strange way it works. I know what I like. I’m good at knowing what I would like, given an opportunity.

To illustrate my point, this is the story of a lens I bought — and why I’m passing it to another photographer who hopefully will get more use of it than I have. Call this: Photographer, Know Thyself.

In November 2013, I bought the Panasonic Lumix G H-H020 20mm f/1.7 Aspherical Pancake Lens for Micro Four Thirds. I used it once, to shoot a “lighting” at a museum the next month of December.

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That set of photographs are among the best night shots I’ve ever taken. The Panny 20, as it is fondly called, is a sharp, fast prime lens. Slightly wide-angle. Perfect for people who like to do street scenes, especially at night. It was the first lens recommended to me after I got my Olympus PEN E-PL1, I think (not sure) in 2011. Close enough. 

The Panny was already available. Everyone who used a 4/3 format camera said I should buy it. It was then (still) quite expensive (it’s not cheap now). Especially for me. I was even more broke five years ago than I am today, which is saying something.

Its praises were sung. I resisted. There were fewer lenses available in 4/3 format back then; this one had a great reputation. Except — I didn’t think I’d use it. At 20mm (effective 40mm), it’s not a perspective of which I’m fond. It’s not flattering as a portrait lens. Not unflattering, but not the lens you’d grab to take some fun candid snaps of your friends or dogs.

Dancing in the dark heritage museum

I don’t do much street shooting. Mostly, I shoot landscapes and casual portraits. I didn’t feel this lens would be the one I’d reach for as I headed out the door. I like longer lenses for portraits and wider ones for landscapes.

Eventually, I gave in. I bought it. Used it once. Since then, it has lived in a padded pouch, ready to go. Always the lens I think I might use, but never do. For “normal,” I use my Olympus f1.8 25mm. If I’m going out and don’t know what I’m going to shoot, I take a camera with a long zoom so I’m ready for whatever pops up. At home, my favorite lenses are the Olympus 12-50mm (macro), the f1.8 45mm, and the f2.8 60mm macro.

What I learned? If I think something won’t suit me, it won’t. No matter what anyone else thinks. I’ve lived long enough to be know what I suits me. I’m not a newbie testing the waters. As a photographer for almost 50 years, I know the types of pictures I take.  I’m not particularly thrilled by “normal” lenses in the 40 to 55mm range. I never was, even back in the dark ages when I was a newbie photographer.

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Unless you’re just starting out in whatever, trust your instincts. Save your money for things you will love. Whether photography equipment, computers, food, clothing, or a vacation … go with your gut. Leroy Jethro Gibbs always does … and we know he is always right.

Where you are concerned, there is no better expert than yourself.

EXPERT | THE DAILY POST

LIFE CONTINUES WHEN YOUTH HAS FLED

I keep hearing that “age is just a number.” If that’s true, then youth is also just a number.

The whole “number” part of aging applies only to the years you’ve (so far) survived. The remainder of the equation has to do with how your body is doing. Whether you still have mostly original equipment or have had to install after-market replacements. Those whose DNA or good luck have allowed them to feel young tend to ascribe their well-being to a positive attitude. It’s easy to believe that when all the parts are in good working order.

After that, life isn’t about your attitude. It’s about what works, what doesn’t. And what you do about it.

96-Me Young in MaineI had a great attitude when I discovered I had cancer in both breasts. A positive approach was not going to make the cancer vanish. I figured it would be pretty clear sailing after that, but much to my surprised (dismayed) chagrin, a few years later I discovered I had a failing heart. Which I’d dismissed as “something else.” Maybe psychological.

Reality crashed in and I had to face it or I would die. A positive attitude wasn’t nearly enough. I wanted so badly for it to be untrue. A medical error. How could I be that sick?

I learned a positive attitude works best in conjunction with good doctors, appropriate care, and commonsense. Sometimes, you have to let your body take the lead. If you want to live, that is.

Mind-over-matter and “age is just a number” are overused platitudes. Being cheerful won’t fix a non-working heart valve, remove cancer, or replace your knees or hips. People who believe a bright smile and a positive attitude are the same as youth and good health are in for a rude awakening. Sooner or later, it comes to all.

Marilyn and Garry by Bette Stevens

Marilyn and Garry by Bette Stevens

On the day when reality crashes in, that is when you need to be positive. Life doesn’t begin and end with youth. Accepting the real limitations life imposes requires guts, determination, and an ability to roll with the punches. Courage is accepting that you can’t do all the stuff you used to do while finding stuff to do you never considered. Or figure out how to do old things in a new way.

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It doesn’t take much courage to face the day if you feel great and your body works. If fate decrees otherwise, you need plan B. That’s when you find out what you’re made of.

Unless you die early, youth ends. For everyone. During most of life, we aren’t young. That’s okay. If youth were the only thing worth having, we’d all be dead before 30.

There is life after youth. I think that’s when the real fun begins.

THE DAILY POST | YOUTH

MOON OVER

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Every photographer has to take a few pictures of the moon. I’m no exception. Of course, because the moon does not rotate on her axis and shows us only one face, most moon shots look much the same.

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Those few times when I have been able to shoot the through trees in the woods, I got something a little different.

MOON | THE DAILY POST