BATTLING FOR THE RIGHT TO NOT DRINK – Marilyn Armstrong

Garry has an undying devotion to some really awful old television series. Among many others, he really likes “The Untouchables.” That would be the version with Robert Stack as Elliott Ness. It’s the original, where our chief G-man and his “guys” fight (are you ready?) for The Volstead Act.

Prohibition! That’s right.

Prohibition. Booze, or more accurately, the lack thereof. Fighting for the right to have people NOT drink booze.

I’m not a boozer. I don’t drink now and never drank much, not even when I was younger. That being said, I can’t imagine going to war to make booze disappear.

War doesn’t work, not even when it’s a war against drugs or booze or your neighbor or their neighbor. War (which is not the same as protection) is an ineffective tool that does more damage than good. I grant you there have been a few exceptions, but ironically, most “good wars” were fought because of bad deals made following previous bad wars. But what do I know, right?

Back to “The Untouchables.”

What a great show. When the cops are pissed off with you, they can beat the living crap out of you. If that doesn’t get you to spill your guts, they’ll toss you off the train. A moving train. You have a problem with that?

You are disposable too.

Ready to blow it up? You betcha!

This version of the FBI is unconcerned with your rights. They don’t believe you have any rights.

First amendment? What’s that? You are dirt under their feet and they treat you accordingly as if you are dirt under their feet. This is a show that never made the slightest apology for being racist. They never pretended to be fair or worried about legalities.

They said “We are G-men. You will obey!”

Everyone did. It was the FBI at its most pure. These men (there are no women) are not just above the law. They are the law.

Early terrorist attack (1920s) – Wall Street

My favorite moment in tonight’s show was when the boys, ignoring even a nod to international law, take the FBI bus into Mexico to track down the guys who kidnapped their witness.

“The bus broke down three times and the trip took 10 hours,” said the stentorian voice of the narrator.

“So what?” I said to Garry. “That could describe my last trip to the grocery store.”

Since the FBI took over enforcing Prohibition — The Volstead Act — no one has had a drink. Not a single person. These guys were so good at battling beer and booze, the alcohol problem was permanently solved. Some might call this denial.

I call it faith. If you believe, it must be true. Who needs facts when misguided belief is more than enough?

I’m trying to get into our current national spirit.

How am I doing?

HISTORY VERSUS TRUTH – Marilyn Armstrong

How’s your credibility doing these days? 


We watched “Serenity.” Again.

It’s a consolation prize, a followup movie to the all-too-brief television series “Firefly.” We loved it. It went a small distance to answer the questions left in the wake of the premature ending of what should have been the best ever science fiction television show.

serenity_movie_poster

Nathan Fillion was a fine, dashing, surprisingly believable hero. He was just un-heroic enough to be witty and upbeat, but brave enough to save the universe.

Despite spaceships and a futuristic planetary setting for the movie, it’s a western. It’s “Tombstone” and “The Magnificent Seven.” A dollop of “Ride the High Country.” It is every thriller, western, and space opera you’ve seen. “Star Trek,” “Star Wars” and “Forbidden Planet,” too.

serenity_8

It’s based on “Firefly”, currently available on Netflix and Amazon Prime — so if you haven’t seen it and you like science fiction and/or westerns and/or thrillers, you can’t help but love this.

Heroes curse in Chinese. Some have super powers or maybe they aren’t superpowers, but they sure do seem pretty super to me. Beautiful women, handsome men. Terrific pseudo-science that you are pretty sure you almost understand because it uses familiar gobbledygook language.

Serenity movie cast

No warp drive. I suppose that means that going from galaxy to galaxy on a whim isn’t going to happen. No one exactly says where the story takes place. It’s a “terraformed” planetary configuration that you would call a solar system, except that technically, there’s only one solar system because there’s only one “Sol.”

And then The Hero, Mal Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, said it. He’s the kind of guy you probably don’t want mad at you, so when he came out with a line this terrific, I wrote it down on the back of an envelope before I forgot it. I knew I would write about it.


“Half of writing history is hiding the truth.” Spoken by Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of the “Serenity.”

I read a lot of fantasy, science fiction, thrillers, steampunk and weird mysteries involving some kind of magical or futuristic technology. But I also read a lot of history, recently a lot of history that essentially debunks all the history I read in the past and makes me completely rethink everything I thought I knew. Tony Judt’s “Postwar” was one such book, but there have been a bunch of others. Some of them I’ve reviewed or otherwise written about. Others, I will talk about eventually.

serenity movies firefly science fiction 1024x768 Fillion

When Mal Reynolds talks about “hiding half the truth,” it sums up history as most of us know it. We learn the “mythology” of history. It can also be a complete lie. There’s half the truth — and then, there’s a complete absence of any truth.

We are told what is true and for most people, it is easier to accept what we are told as “The Truth” rather than make an effort to find out what really happened.

History (mostly) is the stuff the winners say is true.  Author Dan Brown said:


“History is always written by the winners. When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated, and the winner writes the history books-books which glorify their own cause and disparage the conquered foe. As Napoleon once said, ‘What is history, but a fable agreed upon?”


Sometimes, what you hear as “history” is a truth which never happened, but which losers need. It soothes guilty consciousness and makes it possible for them to “move on” and thus pretend the past never happened.

Every nation has a dark past. No nation is guiltless. In no country have the victors treated their victims with kindness and charity. There has been slaughtering throughout the world. Whether your particular people got slaughtered or not is pure luck of the draw.

It’s always an interesting philosophical question: Who draws the straws? Why us? Why them? It’s one of those “ultimate” questions and there is no answer.

History isn’t credible as taught. The history we hear in school has nothing to do with telling later generations what really happened. It ought to be but actually, it’s about getting everyone to believe a story that supports the current power structure.

Debunking those stories comes later when a changed power structure requires a different story.

Nathan Fillion Hero

Take your history with many grains of salt. Not because I said so, but because Mal Reynolds said so.

He saved the universe, so he ought to know.

BATTLING BEER AND BOOZE

Garry has an undying devotion to some really awful old television series. Among many others, he really likes “The Untouchables.” That would be the version with Robert Stack as Elliott Ness. It’s the original, where our chief G-man and his “guys” fight (are you ready?) for The Volstead Act. Prohibition! That’s right. Prohibition. Booze, or more accurately, the lack thereof. Fighting for the right to have people NOT drink booze.

I’m not a boozer. I don’t drink now and I never drank much, not even when I was much younger, but I can’t imagine going to war to make booze disappear. War doesn’t work, not even when it’s a war against drugs or booze or your neighbor or their neighbor.  War (which is not the same as protection) is an ineffective tool that does more damage than good. I grant you there have been a few exceptions, but ironically, most “good wars” were fought because of bad deals made following previous bad wars. But what do I know, right?

Anyway, back to “The Untouchables.”

What a great show. When the cops are pissed off with you, they can beat the living crap out of you. If that doesn’t get you to spill your guts, they’ll toss you off the train. A moving train. You have a problem with that? You too are disposable.

Ready to blow it up? You betcha!

This version of the FBI is unconcerned with your rights. They don’t believe you have any rights. First amendment? What’s that? You are dirt under their feet and they treat you accordingly, as if you are dirt under their feet. This is a show that never made the slightest apology for being racist. They never pretended to be fair or worried much about legalities.

They said “We are G-men. You will obey!” And everyone did. It is the FBI at its purest. These men (there are no women other than an occasional secretary) are not merely above the law. They are the law.

Early terrorist attack (1920s) – Wall Street

My favorite moment in tonight’s show was when the boys, ignoring even a nod to international law, take the FBI bus into Mexico to track down the guys who kidnapped their witness.

“The bus broke down three times and the trip took 10 hours,” said the stentorian voice of the narrator.

“So what?” I said to Garry. “We live in the country. That could describe my last trip to the grocery store.”

Since the FBI took over enforcing Prohibition — that is, The Volstead Act — no one has had a drink. Not one person. These guys were so good at battling against beer and booze, the alcohol problem was permanently solved. Some might call this denial. I call it faith. If you believe, it must be true.

I’m trying to get into our current national spirit. How am I doing?

NOW BACK TO OUR SHOW, ALREADY IN PROGRESS …

With all of the crises in the world, national, and local, I’ve failed in pursuing due diligence to that most important of all issues, “Why are the screwing with all my superheroes?” Don’t I suffer enough from politicians? Do my beloved series and characters also have to give me grief?

We just watched an episode of Supergirl and I am upset.

I’ve always been a DC fan. Back when we were kids, when comic books cost a dime and everybody read them, the world was divided into two teams. You were either Team Marvel or Team DC. Nary would the twain meet. Well, sometimes, but you didn’t admit it to anyone.

Photo: Deb Stone - Probably a super hero. Because she isn't wearing eyeglasses. So able to leap tall buildings and bend steel with steel with her bare hands!
Photo: Deb Stone – Probably a super hero. Because she isn’t wearing eyeglasses and is thus able to leap tall buildings with a single bound and bend steel with steel with her bare hands!

Marvel characters suffered. They had angst. In fact, it was from reading comic books that I learned the word ‘angst.’ All Marvel heroes wanted to do was help. Buy nobody appreciated them. They were haunted. Hunted. Disrespected. As often as not, hated. Marvel heroes had special super suits to disguise them. These costumes covered everything except their eyes.  Considering that they were usually being hunted by every law enforcement agency in the world, full disguise was a good move.

Just a blogger. Can't fly or outrace a train.
Just a blogger. Can’t fly or out race a train.

DC supers, on the other hand were real heroes. They had power. They were bulletproof, faster than … well … a Flash of light. They could fly backwards around the earth to make time travel backwards. None of them had personal angst because they had no personal lives to angst about. They were their personae, even when they were in disguise. And their disguises were … well … on the light side of disguises,  typically consisting of eyeglasses. Just eyeglasses.

Eyeglasses? = Not a hero.

No eyeglasses? = Can leap tall buildings at a single bound. 

I have tried this with Garry and he swears he can’t recognize me without my glasses. Sometimes, I think he isn’t telling the whole truth.

Superman-ClarkKent-Bizarro

Lately, the DC character seem to be competing with Marvel in the “misunderstood, woe is me” department. It pisses me off. If you can’t trust comic book superheroes to stay in character, what is this world coming to? We can’t trust the government, the polls, or political parties. We can’t trust media, the cops — or even the robbers.

Everyone is lying to everybody about absolutely everything … but … through it all as my worst fears have been confirmed by real events and my cynicism has deepened to misanthropy, I thought at least my DC superheroes would stay pure of heart and free from angst.

Not to be, oh woe is me.

When did Jimmy Olsen become a superhero? Now he is The Guardian? Really? He only became The Guardian in this week’s episode, but by the next episode (according to the coming attractions) the gubmint will be hunting him as a renegade. That’s SO not DC. That’s just wrong.

It’s … Marvel!

MOZART IN MY LIVING ROOM – ELLIN CURLEY

My husband and I just finished binge watching the second season of “Mozart In the Jungle” on Amazon Prime. It’s about the people in a New York City orchestra – the musicians, conductors, Board of the Orchestra which has to finance the operation. The behind-the-scenes staff, friends and family of the lead characters. I cannot recommend it enough!

I loved it because it was well-written, wonderfully acted and mesmerizing. I could wax poetic with words like “delightful”, “charming” and “enchanting”– words that hark back to a gentler, simpler time.

mozart-in-the-jungle

Most important to me, I loved it because I could watch it with a smile on my face, not a pillow at the ready to cover my eyes when things on-screen get gory. I’m sick of dark, depressing shows filled with violence and brutality, past present or future. I’m sick of seeing man at his worst – angry, terrified, petty and violent.

I am sick of being scared, grossed out, or demoralized by my “entertainment.” I finished each episode of “Mozart” with a song in my heart, not a black cloud over my head. The show made me want to reach for a glass of champagne, not an anti-depressant– which is how much of popular culture makes me feel these days.

“Mozart in the Jungle” is a breath of fresh air. It’s about literate, creative people devoted to the art of making classical music and bringing it to the public. You get involved in their lives, as well as the lives of the people on the administrative side. There’s romance, intrigue (watch out for the first chair oboist), clashing personalities and perspectives, as well as infantile or bizarre behavior. Through it all, you feel the love everyone has for the music.

You are uplifted by “Mozart In the Jungle” and by the orchestral performances. They remind you how much life can be elevated by art and music. It transports you to a place where culture is exalted. Where knowledge, skill, and dedication are valued above all else.

gael_garcia_bernal

The show won a well-deserved Golden Globe Award recently, as did the Gael Garcia Bernal, who is exceptionally charismatic. It gets my personal award for the best television entertainment in a long time. It’s a show that makes you feel happy — and glad to be alive!

THE GIBBS BINGE

Netflix binge watching is a happy past time for more and more folks these days. You can lose an entire afternoon or evening watching one series. It’s like when we were younger and would stay up til dawn to finish a good book.

Surely, you remember those days?

Marilyn and I are long time fans of the popular “NCIS” series. We follow it faithfully, new shows and multiple viewings of reruns. There are Trekkies and there are Gibbs’ People. I’m among the latter.

72-Garry-NCIS-Uxbridge_01

I have all the NCIS attire that is available. I wear them as proudly as I did the gear identifying my former TV News employer. I even complement my NCIS garments with USMC clothing to boast that I am retired Gyrene as well as a Gibbs camp follower. I even have a badge, courtesy of the local “LEOS” from my TV News days.

I am the law!

All of this mental muscle flexing underscores our binge watching of “NCIS” over the last three or more days.

We needed a fix.

It used to be “Law and Order” until we knew all the shows including the dialogue. Jack McCoy and Adam “make a deal” Schiff will return but we needed a break. I confess I still have fantasies about Angie Harmon.

“NCIS” is another matter. I’ll never get enough of Gibbs, his rules and his crew. I crave those Gibbs’ head slaps, especially when he gives it to Tony DiNozzo who is still too cheeky for me after 12 plus seasons.

ncis-need-to-know

Then there’s Ziva. I still pine for her. Cote de Pablo’s sly and sexy  ex-Mossad agent turned NCIS staffer still makes my blood simmer more than two seasons after her departure from the show.

Abby, the Goth princess of the forensics lab, is another star in my dreams. Her tats have me thinking impure thoughts. But I’m a senior citizen and should be cut some slack.

But it all goes back to Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Mark Harmon is now John Wayne for me. He is the stoic hero who can still kick butt of villains twice his size and half his age. Gibbs has survived multiple explosions and still has perfect hearing.

I was a bit annoyed when LJ allowed a kid to shoot him last year. A kid? For crying out loud!

I am thrilled we are only beginning season 3 of our “NCIS” binge-a-thon.

Ahead, there are new shows for this season. It’s like a belated Christmas present for functioning mutes.

On your 6, Boss!!

TRUTH, HISTORY, AND HEROES

“Half of writing history is hiding the truth.” Malcolm Reynolds, “Serenity.”

We finally watched “Serenity.” It’s a consolation prize, a followup movie to the all-too-brief television series “Firefly.” We loved it. It went a small distance to answer the questions left in the wake of the premature ending of what should have been the best ever science fiction television show.

serenity_movie_poster

Nathan Fillion was a fine, dashing, surprisingly believable hero. He was just un-heroic enough to be witty and upbeat, but brave enough to save the universe.

Despite space ships and a futuristic other planetary setting for the movie, it’s a western. It’s “Tombstone” and “The Magnificent Seven.” A dollop of “Ride the High Country.” It is every thriller, western, and space opera you’ve seen. “Star Trek,” “Star Wars” and “Forbidden Planet,” too.

serenity_8

It’s based on “Firefly”, currently available on Netflix and Amazon Prime — so if you haven’t seen it and you like science fiction and/or westerns and/or thrillers, you can’t help but love this.

Heroes curse in Chinese. Some have super powers or maybe they aren’t super powers, but they sure do seem pretty super to me. Beautiful women, handsome men. Terrific pseudo-science that you are pretty sure you almost understand because it uses familiar gobbledygook language.

Serenity movie cast

No warp drive. I suppose that means that going from galaxy to galaxy on a whim isn’t going to happen. No one exactly says where the story takes place. It’s a “terraformed” planetary configuration that you would call a solar system, except that technically, there’s only one solar system because there’s only one “Sol.”

And then The Hero, Mal Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, said it. He’s the kind of guy you probably don’t want mad at you, so when he came out with a line this terrific, I wrote it down on the back of an envelope before I forgot it. I knew I would write about it.

“Half of writing history is hiding the truth.” Spoken by Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of “Serenity.”

I read a lot of fantasy, science fiction, thrillers, steam punk and weird mysteries involving some kind of magical or futuristic technology. But I also read a lot of history, recently a lot of history that essentially debunks all the history I read in the past and makes me completely rethink everything I thought I knew. Tony Judt’s “Postwar” was one such book, but there have been a bunch of others. Some of them I’ve reviewed or otherwise written about. Others, I will talk about in the future.

serenity movies firefly science fiction 1024x768 Fillion

But this so well summed up history as we know it. Not the “mythology” of history, which is what we were fed in school. Not mainstream history we are told is Truth with the capital “T” and that the majority of people accept at face value, if  they remember any history at all.

History isn’t about telling later generations what really happened. It ought to be — in my opinion — but actually, it’s about getting everyone to believe a story that supports the current power structure. Debunking those stories comes in the future, when a new power structure needs a different story.

Nathan Fillion Hero

Take your history with many grains of salt. Not because I said so, but because Mal Reynolds said so. He saved the universe, so he ought to know.