A Collaboration of Garry and Marilyn Armstrong

We watched “Rustler’s Rhapsody” again last night. I love this movie. It’s an affectionate spoof of the B-Westerns of the 1940s starring Tom Berenger, Patrick Wayne, G.W. Baily (currently with “Major Crimes” on which Berenger has a recurring guest role), Andy Griffith and Fernando Rey.

The women include Sela Ward, a solid dramatic actress perhaps best remembered as Dr. Richard Kimble’s slain wife in the movie version of “The Fugitive”. There’s also Marilu Henner who riffs on the Miss Kitty/Miss Lily saloon ladies of our favorite TV westerns.

Andy Griffith and Fernando Rey both play power-mad cattle barons. Fernando usually plays an international drug czar and you probably remember him in “The French Connection”. He is slimy sinister personified. Rey and Griffith make a very odd couple. Check out the scene where they argue about who gets to do the countdown for killing the hero. They are hilarious, but Andy Griffith steals the show.

We love the movie so much we own two identical copies of it on DVD. It wasn’t going to be available for long, so Marilyn bought a copy for us, another for our best friends … and an extra. Just in case.

rustler's rhapsody dvd cover

NOTE: As it turns out, “Rustler’s Rhapsody” is available. Again. Who know for how long? If you are interested, Amazon has the DVD and the download.

Tom Berenger is The Hero who shoots the bad guys in the hand. Pat Wayne is the other good guy, but he used to be a lawyer, so be warned. Casting Pat Wayne was an inspiration. “Rustler’s Rhapsody” could easily be homage to his Dad’s ‘poverty row’ westerns of the 1930s. Pat even nails Duke’s acting range of that period.

My heroes have always been cowboys, even the stalwarts of those budget-challenged B movies. I had the good fortune to spend time with two legends of the genre. Buster Crabbe and Jack “Jock” Mahoney.

Crabbe, most famous for his “Flash Gordon” days, contends he had more fun playing the lead in the oaters where the line between good and bad is always clear and you get to wear nice costumes. He considers his westerns as “small classics” not B movies. (Crabbe continued his career into the late 60’s when producer A.C. Lyles revived the B cowboy movie with over the hill actors including Johnny Mack Brown, Rod Cameron, Bob Steele, Hoot Gibson and Richard Arlen among others).

Jack “Jock” Mahoney, known to many as TV’s “Range Rider”, is a former stuntman who graduated to supporting roles as nimble villains and finally established a following at Universal-International, playing literate good guys in lean, well written westerns. Mahoney clearly is proud of his work in the B movies. I remember the smile on his face as he recalled the fun of being recognized as a cowboy hero.

I think all the cowboy actors I’ve met (Including John Wayne) would heartily approve of “Rustler’s Rhapsody”. It’s an affectionate tribute to their work.

This is the song they play at the end of the movie when the credits are rolling. I love the song and the memories it brings because I’m of the generation that went to the movies and watched those B movies as part of the afternoon double-header at the Carlton or Laurelton, the second (third?) run movies houses where you could see two movies and a cartoon for a dime.

Warner Brothers, 1982. “Last Of The Silver Screen Cowboys” by Rex Allen Jr. and Rex Allen Sr. Be sure to listen for Roy Rogers in the final commentary and chorus!



I would be surprised if almost everyone in my age grew — boomers — who grew up in the U.S. didn’t immediately hear this song in their head when they saw this prompt.

“The Sounds of Silence” was published in 1964 and became a generational anthem. What it means or doesn’t mean is immaterial compared to the way the lyrics and the music felt to us. It spoke to our loneliness, our fears of the future, our hopes that we could change the world coupled with angst about personal powerlessness.

The Sound Of Silence (3:08) MIDI
P. Simon, 1964

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turn my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never shared
No one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

“Fools,” said I, “you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sound of silence

In 1964 I was a sophomore in college. Seventeen years old. Afraid of everything, afraid of nothing. In love, in fear, in hope. About to launch my personal ship of state. I had already left my parents home and was living on my own, making a million mistakes almost by the hour.

I bought this album and played it until the grooves wore out.

The version I’ve included on here is not the original recorded version. It’s the “reunion” of Simon & Garfunkel many years later. Not a lesser version, just a little bit different. The song still resonates … but maybe it says something different to me today than it did all those years ago.



When I hear songs from the past, I always remember them in context. I think about where I was when I first heard them or when I most often heard them. “Oldies” from the 60’s bring back images of doing homework in my bedroom with the radio on. Some songs conjure scenes of riding to or from school with friends and singing along with the radio.

I have always loved Broadway musicals and have been going to see them since childhood. Every show is frozen in time in my mind. My first musical was “Peter Pan” with Mary Martin. I was six and my five-year old friend had to be taken out of the theater because she was so terrified by Captain Hook.

I saw “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum” as a teenager with my parents, the night before my father had major cancer surgery (he survived and lived for many years).


My favorite Broadway memory is seeing the show “Baby” when I was pregnant with my second child. The show follows several women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, just had a baby or just found out they can’t have children. I swear to God my daughter kicked for the first time in the middle of the show about pregnancy and babies! She has always loved musicals too, so maybe her connection to them started in utero!

Today, when we listen to our favorite radio channel, The Broadway channel on Sirius Radio, we reminisce about when we saw each show. We often argue about how old she was or what was going on in our lives when we saw this show or that show. She’s usually right.


One of my all time favorite shows has followed me through the different stages of my life. I first saw Stephen Sondheim’s “Company” when it opened in 1970. I was in college and saw it with my parents. It was revived in 1990 and I saw it again as a young mother with my first husband. Another revival was produced in 2010. This time I was a middle-aged empty-nester and saw it with my second (and current) husband. I hope I’m around for the next 20-year anniversary production.


Another show, “The Sound Of Music” has spanned the generations for me. I saw the original 1959 production, again starring Mary Martin when I was 10 years old. I became obsessed with the show and the music. I played the album endlessly. I can still sing all the songs. I read everything about the show and the cast and anxiously waited for the 1965 movie, with Julie Andrews as Maria Von Trapp. I became obsessed all over again.

Fast forward to the 1990’s. My daughter was around eight when I first played the movie for her at home. It was magical to see it through a child’s eyes again. She loved it so much we had to watch it over and over on the VCR. She too became obsessed with everything “Sound Of Music.” We even visited the real Von Trapp family resort in Vermont while we were skiing with the family. It is a love we still share. Someday I hope to share the same music with my grandchildren.

So when I listen to the Broadway radio channel, I’m not just listening to good music, or even familiar music. I’m taking a trip down memory lane. I’m reliving the wonderful time I’ve spent in Broadway and off-Broadway theaters over the years.

I don’t go to musical theater as often any more, in part because ticket prices have become so outrageously expensive. But my memories of songs, shows and theatrical experiences are as strong and happy as ever.



It’s at moments like this that I realize — I really am getting old. Passionate. When I started doing this four and a half years ago, I was passionate. Undisciplined and all over the place. Writing too long, leaping from subject to subject without any connection. Angry one day, mellow the next. Ranting about wrongs and politics … and (please forgive me!) philosophy. And then just dropping the whole thing and taking a lot of pictures of autumn leaves.

I was so passionate about absolutely everything I probably contradicted myself a dozen time a week, but who was counting?

A double round of cancer and massive heart surgery later, we are in the middle of the most horrendous political kerfuffle in my lifetime … maybe in the life of this nation … and I’m beginning to feel numb. Passionate? I can’t even seem to raise a decent head of steam. I know who I’m voting for and why I’m voting for her. I know who I’m NOT voting for and why I could never, ever, under any imaginable circumstances vote for him or anyone remotely like him …

But there’s not much passion behind it. Unlike 2008 when I was wild with energy and excitement because finally, after years of plodding, this country was going to make a major breakthrough. Progress! REAL progress.

I wasn’t blogging in ’08, but by 2012, I was full bore into it. I don’t know whether to be proud or a little embarrassed at my naked excitement at that election. I went from nothing to 100,000 views in just a couple of months …

And the election ended. Gridlock began. The air went out of my bubble. It got grim and ugly. I got sick and spent a year pulling myself back from the edge of the edge. I didn’t want to get down in the trenches and duke it out with people with whom I disagree. I didn’t even feel like bothering to call out the crazies for being crazy.

This time around, I think people should be smarter. They should be able to use their own brains to see what’s what, and why they need to do whatever they must to keep this country a place in which we can all live. The amount of blind hate … passionate hate … based on assumptions, rumor, innuendo, racism, and a weird combination of a sense of white entitlement combined with an obvious belief that Those People have stolen “their” country.

How do you talk to people who are irrational? Who don’t care whether what they believe is true or factual? Who think being passionate is exactly the same as being right?

The answer is: I can’t. Instead of prodding me into wanting to confront the devil in the Orange Hair, I just want it all to go away. Wake me when it’s time to vote. Tell me what happened when it’s over. Let me know if I’m going to have to wear a yellow star on my clothing or my husband and I will have to go into hiding because we are a mixed race, mixed religion, intellectual couple. Both born and raised in the Devil’s own city of New York (or, as we call it, our home town) … and him with 40 years working as one of Those People — you know — media maggots. When comes the fascist dictator to power, we are going to be exactly the kind of people who go up against the wall first.

Why not? They’ll probably gut social security and we’ll be out on the street anyway,.

Is anyone else feeling that somehow, we are living in the worst of times … and you’re numb? Your brain has given up? You’re hearing Phil Ochs in your head humming “I ain’t marching anymore …” and wonder where have all the flowers gone?


For all of the 21st century so far, I have been looking for the music with social relevance.  Yes there have been a few songs, but not much in these sixteen years.  And who are the young writers contributing songs with meaning this century?  Neil Young, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, U2?  

Those guys are still at it, but in this era of social unrest, you might expect more young voices to be heard.  Getting a good deal of notice in recent weeks is the heavy metal group, Disturbed, and their rendition of Sounds of Silence.  If you are thinking the title is familiar, it is.  They covered the Simon and Garfunkel hit to great effect. 


Enter The Young, When Songs Had Meaning

There was a time I will describe as late Beatles up to pre-disco when many songs had a deeper meaning, that is to say, a “social commentary”.  The air was filled with thoughtful and thought-provoking lyrics.  Some will argue that these songs helped to sway a nation toward greater equality and away from a war of questionable merits.  For a while, many songwriters abandoned “Ooh baby, baby,” to write about war, race, poverty, inhumanity and life in the ghetto rather than life on “easy street”.  This was the era in songwriting where the words were as important as the notes being played.

Here they come, yeah
Some are walking, some are riding
Here they come, yeah
And some are flying, some just gliding
Released after years of being kept in hiding
They’re climbing up the ladder rung by rung

Bob Dylan had been speaking to us for years, but suddenly so was McCartney and Lennon, then John Lennon on his own.  Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Carol King, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Curtis Mayfield, Lou Reed, Marvin Gaye can all be added to the list and on and on.  There were many more with just a few hits but big social impact.

Enter the young, yeah
Yeah, they’ve learned how to think
Enter the young, yeah
More than you think they think
Not only learned to think, but to care
Not only learned to think, but to dare

My absolute favorite among the thoughtful lyrics were those done by a group called The Association.  They are probably best known for their hit songs “Cherish,” “Windy” and “Along Comes Mary.”  These songs are filled with clever rhymes and many unique “play on words.”  “Cherish” taught me I could rhyme that word with “perish” and I used it for a wedding lyric years later.

Yeah, here they come
Some with questions, some decisions
Here they come
And some with facts and some with visions

Of a place to multiply without the use of divisions
To win a prize that no one’s ever won

They also commented on society in songs like “The Time It is Today,” “Enter the Young,” and the biting and rather haunting sounds of “Requiem For The Masses.”  This was filled with the symbolism of those that died for the red, white and blue as well as dealing with the issues of race (“Black and white were the questions that so bothered him, he never asked, he was taught not to ask, but was on his lips as they buried him.)  Yes, the same group that gave us “Never My Love” could come around again and whack you with a social message…hard.

Here they come, yeah
Some are laughing, some are crying
Here they come
And some are doing, some are trying
Some are selling, some are buying
Some are living, some are dying
But demanding recognition one by one

They did get recognition, along with many other such groups, if only for a moment in musical history.  Where are  the meaningful song lyrics of today?  I wonder.

Not only learned to think, but to care
Not only learned to think, but to dare

I wore out this album as I found every song to be worthy of constant replay.  I was a teenager, I thought it was great.  All these years later, I still do.  I chose the video above as I could find no performance of this song except a weak cover version and this one rendered the best sound.

Enter The Young by Terry Kirkman 1966 Beachwood Music Corp.


If you were given a boat or yacht today, what would you name it?  (You can always sell the yacht later)

When I actually had a boat — you could hardly call it a yacht since it was a tiny 16-foot centerboard Soling — I named her “Gwaihir” which means, “Wind Lord” in Elvish. I was deep into my Tolkien period. The boat’s name was always a bit too much for such a sweet little craft, but I loved her anyway.

Between the boats - marina

I can’t even imagine owning an entire yacht. Where would we sail her? The rivers are not suitable for anything bigger than a kayak and the coast is inconveniently far away. I think I’m inclined to feel as many have felt before me that it’s better to have friends who own a yacht than to own the yacht yourself. Boats require a lot of maintenance and a lot of attention. They don’t just sit there in the water. You have to do a lot of stuff to make sure they remain “shipshape.” Whether it’s a big motor launch or a little sailboat, there’s still always a task awaiting attention.

So I will leave you with the name of our friends’ boat: Serenity, named after the craft in Josh Whedon’s “Firefly” series. It’s a good name and a good thought. Or maybe … Serendipity?

Which of Snow White’s 7 dwarfs describes you best?  (Doc, Happy, Bashful, Sleepy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Dopey). What would the 8th dwarf’s name be? 

I am each of those dwarfs, depending on when you ask. Today, I think I am Happy, but yesterday, I was Grumpy. I might be Doc tomorrow. What with hay fever season starting, I am very likely to morph into Sneezy.


The eighth dwarf is definitely ITCHY.

Name a song or two which are included on the soundtrack to your life?

Rod Stewart was the song of our courtship. I think it still is.

Complete this sentence:  

I like watching … the seasons change through my picture window. Seeing the clouds roll by, the leaves unfold. The rain and snow fall and the sun return. It is a very find perch for watching life and the world. Right now the wind is picking up because the remnants of a hurricane are passing along the coastline. We are due for a bit of wind and hopefully, more than a little rain.





SIDEWALKS OF NEW YORK (and a little history)

East Side, West Side, all around the town
The kids sang “ring around rosie”, “London Bridge is falling down”
Boys and girls together, me and Mamie O’Rourke
We tripped the light fantastic on the sidewalks of New York

East Side, West Side, all around the town
Sweet Mamie grew up and bough herself a sweet little Alice-blue gown
All the fellas dug her, you should have heard them squark
When I escorted Mamie round the sidewalks of New York

East Side, West Side, riding through the parks
We started swinging at Jilly’s then we split to P.J. Clark’s
On to Chuck’s Composite, then a drink at The Stork
We won’t get home until morning ’cause we’re going to take a walk
On the sidewalks of New York

Courtesy of YouTube

“The Sidewalks of New York” is a popular song about life in New York City during the 1890’s. It was created by lyricist James W. Blake (23 September 1862–24 May 1935) and vaudeville actor and composer Charles B. Lawlor in 1894. The song proved successful afterwards, and is often considered a theme for New York City.

Many artists, including Mel Tormé, Duke Ellington, Larry Groce and The Grateful Dead, have performed this song. Governor Al Smith of New York used it as a theme song for his failed presidential campaign in 1928. The song is also known under the title “East Side, West Side” from the first words of the chorus.

Boston at night

Boston at night


(Note: The responses aren’t posting today for the “sidewalk” prompt. It’s another “no go” on The Daily Post. Sorry!)