On Getting Old

I have had cause to note that along with the gradual deterioration of the body, aging also diminishes the brain. Ever alert to the onset of senility, I am horrified at each word forgotten, each digression from the path.
So imagine my dismay as I gaily sang to the cats that Chicks and Ducks and Geese better scurry, when I take you out in the….CURRY? SLURRY? BLURRY? I simply could not remember the name of the vehicle with the fringe on the top. Google of course instantly supplied it, namely: SURREY. Which I stared at, thinking, what on earth is a surrey. Well, it is a "

popular American doorless, four-wheeled carriage of the late 19th and early 20th century."

As long as I can still manage to look up answers to these significant questions, I guess I can manage to avert collapse.
But I shall NEVER give in to Gmail’s sly hinting of responses to emails. Or at least. I hope I shall never give in.
Should you spot an email from me briefly announcing," Cute!" or "That’s great news! " just assume my next communication will be from the nursing home.


Smoky and the Bandit

Like all proper East Coast ladies, I never liked Burt Reynolds–a vulgar man, an icon of low class bad taste.
And yet, after his death, when Amazon offered me his spectacularly popular movie, Smoky and the Bandit–which of course I had never seen, being too busy with esoteric foreign films–I thought, I’ll give it a chance.
It is a bright film, cheery and insoucient–and so very American. Yes, vulgar, yes, ridiculous–but you can’t watch it without smiling.
There are of course roaring engines and clouds of dust as fast cars and mighty trucks furiously chase one another through the verdant fields of America. My enthusiasm is limited for such stuff, but the scenery was great, and everybody was having a grand time.
What really won my heart was the genial and happy communication among the truck drivers and other CB enthusiasts. Wonderful language, great accents! We all know some of the slang–10-4 and Smokey are part of everyday vocabulary. But how about a Kojak with a Kodak (meaning, a cop with radar)? Or, a Choke-n-Puke (meaning a truck stop)- silly stuff, but, well–irresistible.
AND Jerry Reed singing the songs— he is a fave rave of mine. Has been for years.
I am still not a Burt Reynolds fan–but in his cocky insufferable way, he was fun to watch. All those powerful cars, adorable guys, ridiculous stunts–it gave me that proud to be American feeling.
So go pound sand, esoteric foreign films.
10-7, good buddies!

How many hours to Babylon?

Tomorrow I shall visit the Pakistani embassy to get visas for 3 colleagues who will be attending a November meeting in Islamabad. That is, assuming the would-be travelers have sent me the one last document needed for this complicated process: a recent bank statement.  I have everything else, which is to say, 1) their passports, 2) completed visa forms, 3) invitations, 4) glowing letter from current employer, 5) completed document of business good will as required on the (rather clunky) website.
It will take FOUR TO SIX WEEKS.
And each visa costs $331.
Some countries are rather casual about visitors–no visa required to visit Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, many others–but not this one.
I am filled with admiration for my colleagues–so casually making ready to travel to a dangerous and disagreeable place. They believe in what they do, and for all I know, they may be doing good. In any case, I admire them–good people who spend their precious lives flying in airplanes for hours and hours. To them I raise my glass: may their missions succeed! And may their dinners be the BEST AIRLINE DINNERS EVER.

In the uphill battle to entertain myself of an evening I enter many worlds, many odd places—many SO UNSUITABLE for a respectable elderly lady. But stories, I must have the stories!

Recently I found myself once again in Westeros, beyond the Wall: a particularly loud battle between a horrid Death Bear and a group of brave expeditioners. It went on and on, roaring and stomping and snow flying….Winter HAD COME as promised, I find. Well, aside from noting that the lads wore no hats in the bitter cold—the better to display their tossing curls, no losing ears to frostbite for these hot blooded fellows!–I found it singularly unengaging.

Sigh. How well I remember the excitement of reading those books.

Long ago now.

Anyway, clicking onward I came to Matt Groening’s new series—Disenchantment. Outrageous and silly–idiotic plots and KRAZY dialogue—and absolutely irresistible.

Shameful, but there it is. Mr. Groening has an amazing wealth of invention, it just pours out of him.

I watched every episode, and often chuckled. It’s like Simpsons, only in Fairytale Land. Here is the trailer.

Long ago my youngest boy sat on the floor among his toys—cars, bears, a toy garage. He looked up at me with a conspiratorial air, and whispered, “Let’s pretend I’m the God of War!” I agreed that we could make it so.

Sometimes I think that telling each other stories is the most wonderful thing we humans do.

But then I remember lemon bars.

OH, and chocolate chip cookies.

5 Interesting News Stories

1. Parents Beware!

Thieves and wicked people are stealing your little children’s SS numbers and using them to set up fraudulent credit card accounts and otherwise commit mayhem. Your darlings will only learn about this when they ask for their first loan and the bank manager calls the police. What can you do? Nothing much, aside from being vigilant. Story here.

2. Miles Gloriosus!
There are ghastly conflicts all over the world creating misery for millions of people.
But shamefully, I keep noting the pictures of amazingly handsome young men.

Monsters, I make no doubt. But, sort of CUTE monsters. Military garb, deeply practical of course,
but also, one can’t help but admit, dangerously alluring.

Note that though the LandsNecht on the right may look like a dainty morsel, he and his chums were as deadly a force as any in our time, see this.
And also, this, because, irresistible.

3. Miles Pellis
All South Korean men spend a mandatory 2 years serving in the army, and during that rigorous time they learn –that daily skin care is very important! Toners, face masks, and moisturizers are de rigeur for the troops, and after their service they continue this regime. Older soldiers are slightly appalled, but naturally the young men ignore this.

4. Wearing the Hotel Carpet
There are MANY people who are obsessed with carpet patterns in hotels, airports and office buildings–going so far as to make costumes from especially charming samples and wearing them to comic book/fantasy conventions. The Dragon Con in Atlanta is going on as we speak, and members of the Cult of Marriott Carpet will march in the parade proudly wearing their carpet ensembles.

5. It’s September!
We made it through the summer!

Summer fading

Our side of the world is bending away from the sun–the mornings are darker, the evenings come sooner, and today I felt that nip in the air, announcing that Autumn is on the way.
Oh there are more 90 degree days in store before we settle into the next season, and we will be sweltering away for another month–but how precious is this first breath of fresh coolness! I wore a suit for the first time in months, and felt a chill even with the jacket on.
There are those among us who cherish the heat and regard winter’s approach with loathing–and I will own that I do not relish struggling through the snow against the freezing arctic winds. But how nice to open the door and not be greeted with that vile slap of wet heat!

Amazon recently offered me the new Murder on the Orient Express–a fine opportunity to compare the 2017 version with the 1973 version, ALSO available just a few tiles down. I will never forget the thrill of that earlier movie, so lush and pleasing after all the grim black and white art flicks we had been so heroically watching. Brilliant colors, brilliant stars–Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, Vanessa Redgrave, all marching onto that gorgeous train.

And a youthful Albert Finney playing the great detective, all padded out, with ridiculously black black hair gleaming like glass, a delightfully fruity accent–and that wonderful net to keep his mustache in place while he slumbered. 45 years ago, and I still remember that silly net.
Kenneth Branagh had a much more elaborate mustache guard, solid rather than diaphanous (I note that such devices are available on Amazon, see this). And WHAT a mustache it protected, a triumph of the art. But the patience and talent to GROW such a thing, THAT is not so readily available.

It took Sir Kenneth 6 months, and even then he had to have it augmented and fortified by the makeup lady. It is a VERY significant bit of face gear, a reticulated pediment matched in nobility by the baroque and perfectly tailored gray mane above. In fact, this Poirot is a handsome fellow, and even has a lost love– whose sad portrait he salutes before retiring to his bed. Where he reads Dickens, with many a mirthful chuckle.
BOTH productions are fun to watch–and yes, both are entirely unbelievable. Both start with fabulous crowd scenes in Jerusalem, then take us over to Istanbul on the ferry to board the Orient Express, the magnificent train. To see that powerful machine making its stately way through the somber landscapes, as the steam billows through the falling snow and that lonesome whistle blows–quite quite magical.

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