Monday, January 15, 2018

The old films and strong roles for women

I continue to buy the classic old films of my parents’ generation, i.e., films from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. I am enjoying watching them, and I must say that the roles written for women in the 1940s and 1950s often had substance. These roles showed women as owners of companies, business leaders and managers—in other words—career women—in short, that they could be married and have children, and be career women at the same time. They could also play hussies, whores, mean-spirited women, ruthless business women, but they did not have to take off their clothes to prove anything to anyone. Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Gene Tierney; Katherine Hepburn; these women were not taking off their clothes for the movies in which they starred. The explanation is likely that the Motion Picture Production Code at that time in society prohibited nudity, rape, gory violence, erotic sex scenes, etc. This Code was the set of industry moral guidelines that was applied to most United States motion pictures released by major studios from 1930 to 1968. Prior to that time, there were a fair amount of films made that tested the limits of decency. The Production Code, which was minimally enforced during the 1960s, was replaced by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) film rating system in 1968. I started to go to the movies in the 1970s when I was a teenager, and as I have written about before, there was not all that much censorship of nudity and violence in the films we could see at that time. Pretty much anything ‘went’. I remember the first time I saw nudity onscreen; it was in Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy (1972). I was sixteen at the time, old enough to get into the film without parental guidance. It was a bit shocking as I remember, and even years later, I find the film quite lurid. It is not one of the Hitchcock films that come to mind when I think of the repertoire of excellent films that have made him famous.

But back to the films of the 1940s and 1950s; I have to say I find them refreshing for their lack of nudity and lack of graphic violence. The subject matter could be quite grim—murder, betrayal, illicit love affairs, psychopathy, mental illness, terminal illness, etc.—but it all seemed more stylized, not down and dirty. It may be that this is a false representation of such subject matter, but in some senses I prefer it because it allowed for more concentration on character development and the psychological aspects of the characters involved. I think of films like Dark Victory (1939), Now, Voyager (1942), Mr. Skeffington (1944), Laura (1944), Mildred Pierce (1945), Leave Her to Heaven (1945), The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), Adam’s Rib (1949), The Night of the Hunter (1955), and Lust for Life (1956), to name a few. Some of these are noir films, i.e., ‘stylish Hollywood crime dramas’, especially those that ‘emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations’ (from Wikipedia). I prefer these kinds of films to the tawdry and explicit ones that came later. I guess I realize as I get older that I don’t want to see murder in all its gory details; it’s enough to see that someone shoots another person without all the blood and gore. Nowadays, there can be twenty shootings in a criminal drama and at some point you become inured to the blood and gore, which is not a good thing. I can recommend the above-mentioned films as excellent examples of film-making and cinematography. Many are also wonderful examples of films with strong solid roles for women, e.g. Mr. Skeffington (Bette Davis), Laura (Gene Tierney), Mildred Pierce (Joan Crawford), Leave Her to Heaven (Gene Tierney), The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (Barbara Stanwyck), and Adam’s Rib (Katherine Hepburn). I’ve yet to see some of Barbara Stanwyck’s other films; the same is true for Katherine Hepburn and Joan Crawford. I’m looking forward to doing so.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The garden in winter

I took a trip to the garden yesterday. It was mild weather, with temperatures hovering around the freezing point. We've had some snow during the past few weeks, so I wanted to see how the greenhouse was doing. I don't want too much snow to accumulate on the top of the greenhouse, because I'm not sure how much weight the polycarbonate panels can tolerate. So I did sweep the snow off the top of the greenhouse. But my worrying about the snow accumulation was also a great excuse to be in my garden again. And the garden has a special beauty in winter. It's peaceful in a different way than in the summertime. There was no one else there except for me; I could tell because there were no other footprints in the snow besides mine. But there were a lot of birds, chirping happily in the bare trees. I guess they manage to find the food they need to survive; I did hang up a couple of seed balls for them a few weeks ago, and they were gone yesterday, so I assume that the birds ate them. I take care of the birds during the winter. As I've written about before, the pigeons, magpies, sparrows, and sometimes even the seagulls pay us daily visits when it's cold and miserable out. They always get seeds and some bread from us each day.

I'll most likely be taking another trip to the garden on Tuesday in order to brush more snow off the top of the greenhouse. The weather people are predicting about ten inches of snow for Oslo, starting tomorrow and continuing into Tuesday. And then it's supposed to get cold again. We've had a lot of snow this winter, much more than I can remember from previous years. I don't mind it so much this year, because it's pretty and creates a peace that is nice to experience. Walking outdoors at night is also a nice experience--pretty and quiet. So winter has its charms.

I'm including some photos of the garden in winter in this post. Enjoy.......

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Peaceful winter scenes

I took a lot of photos during the month of December because there were a lot of cold clear days and nights, and that always makes for crisp clear photos. We've also had some snowfalls that end up making the nighttime brighter--amazing how the snow creates light in the darkness. In any case, I find these winter scenes very peaceful and I wanted to share them with you.

taken on New Year's Eve right after midnight

a lovely winter morning sky with smoke curling upwards toward the clouds

Full moon from early December 2017

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Last Gasps of the Dinosaurs

I was planning to write another post about Trump and his minions a couple of days ago, but in the meantime, Bannon turned around and APOLOGIZED for his inflammatory comments about Trump and his family. So now I’ve got to comment on this. I mean, who writes this stuff? It’s better over-the-top drama than most of what you’ll find in the theater these days, better than the worst soap opera out there. It’s bromance, folks—bromance between Trump and Bannon. They’ve had a tiff and they’ll be making up soon. Bannon has already held out the olive branch. Now Trump just needs to take it. Because you understand what happened here. Bannon, like a jilted lover, decided to take a little revenge on Trump, to make him pay for how he badly he treated him. We’re talking pride here—the old male dinosaur wounded pride. Remember the old expression ‘Hell has no fury like a woman scorned’? Methinks this expression can now be applied to men too; in fact, it always could be, because men can be amazingly vengeful when they want to be. Bannon’s fury has now abated. He got what he wanted—the attention he seeks, all eyes on him. His fifteen extra minutes of fame. And in addition, the entire country is about to make Michael Wolff a millionaire many times over. Maybe Wolff will cut him in on some of the profits. I’m guessing Trump and Bannon will kiss and make up, and then we’ll be subject to more of Trump’s tweets talking about what a great guy Bannon is. And that the media reports of his having said that Bannon had ‘lost his mind’ are more evidence of fake news. Wait and see.

It’s just that I, like so many other Americans, want to be spared this farcical circus. I literally cringe every time I see either one of them on TV. I cringe when I realize this is what we present to the world. The lack of intelligence, civility, logic, rationality, and strategic thinking is glaring. GLARING. As in, sun-blinding. You can’t find the shadows, can’t find cover, can’t find a safe place to protect yourself from it. You can’t escape them and the old dinosaur chaos they represent. Everywhere you turn, the old dinosaurs are there, lumbering and lurching forward, crushing everything in their path on their way to oblivion. Because that’s where they’re headed. I just wish they'd get there already. I’m hoping that #Metoo is the huge comet that takes out most of them. It’s already a societal force to be reckoned with, having destroyed a good number of the old dinosaurs’ careers. Will we miss them? The answer is a resounding NO.

The last gasps of the dinosaurs. I feel sorry for the real ones, but not for these old men. They’ve ruined lives, careers, dreams, ambitions. They ruin people. They use them up and spit them out. But they’re sinking into the mire that will trap them for posterity. I can hear them gasping for breath—the bloated, overfed, pompous, arrogant, infamous, small-brained creatures—and they deserve all of the vengeance that society will wreak upon them. I just hope that the non-dinosaurs will be spared. It would be terrible to have to share posterity with them mired in the same mud.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Is this any way to run a country?

Is this any way to run an airline a country? You bet it is……

My apologies to National Airlines for re-imagining their slogan from many years ago, but for some reason it popped into my mind today after reading yet another article about someone else Trump has criticized publicly and turned his back on. This time it was Steve Bannon, of all people. I mean, this is serious, folks. These two were once as thick as thieves. Steve Bannon’s alt-right supporters voted for Trump because Bannon told them to. Bannon himself served as chief strategist in Trump’s administration, a role that gave him a direct line to Trump. Trump cannot turn around now and say that Bannon’s influence on his decision-making was negligible during his first half year in office and during his campaign. But he is doing just that. Turning his back on Bannon and saying that he 'lost his mind after he was fired', after Bannon said the following in the new book Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff:

"The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government (Russia) inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor -- with no lawyers. They didn't have any lawyers. Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad s***, and I happen to think it's all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately."

Wow! Bannon finally admitted what all ethical individuals know already. But it was good to see that he is finally coming around to the ethical way of thinking. Who knows? Maybe there’s hope for him yet. Time will tell.

But watching Trump lurch from one chaotic mess to another, destroying everything in his path—people, institutions, laws, agencies, etc.—only makes one wonder what the hell this man is thinking. Implosions, explosions, tantrums, endless conflicts, pissing contests with other world leaders (some of them as unstable as he is)--all in the space of just one year in office. One of my friends said today it's like a Greek tragedy. But it’s a Greek tragedy in many acts that are unfolding as we go along. That’s the scary part. We don’t know how this tragedy will end. Will Trump be impeached or brought down? Will he bring down the country or involve it in a nuclear war? It’s hard to know. I would hope that his supporters understand the stakes involved when supporting their boss’ penchant for upping the ante regarding a nuclear conflict. If you’d like to know more about how a nuclear bomb kills people, you can read about it here:  I call it game over.

How many people can Trump alienate (afford to alienate) before enough is enough? Before there are no more supporters/friends/allies/family members/ lackeys/boot-lickers/brainwashed individuals etc. left to alienate? More importantly, is there any serious governing going on at all? Is this chaos his political strategy for how to run the country? A diversionary tactic to distract us all from what is really going on (enriching himself and his family at the expense of the country?). Because I have to say I really just don't get it. Is this any way to run a country? I’m betting that Trump thinks it is. He thinks he’s doing a bang-up job of running the country. There are many ways to define a bang-up job. I’m going for the literal interpretation, because the only images that comes to mind are collisions, damage and destruction. He's like a wrecking ball. I wonder what will be left when the dust settles. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year--welcome 2018!

2017 was a pretty good year, all things considered. The last two months brought with them some good luck in the way of improved conditions at work and some money for laboratory consumables. So you could say my luck turned suddenly. But I was already lucky, because I have the most important things in life--people whom I love and who love me. So it no longer matters to me what happens at work, because work is not my life. But I am grateful for the improved work conditions and extra money, because it makes going to work that much more pleasant. Much better to go to a workplace that is pleasant than to one that is in constant conflict. So if you wait long enough, things do turn around. Upon reflection, I know that the adversities of the past five or six years have made me stronger but have also made me appreciative of what is important in this life. 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger'; I'd have to say I agree with that. I learned this already in my mid-twenties, but sometimes you need a reminder, because sometimes you forget how strong you really are. So perhaps God reminds us in different ways. I'll have to trust him on that one.

I have several writing projects I want to accomplish in 2018 and am already well-underway with them. I've been told by several people that they like my work; those same people are pleased to know that I am planning on focusing on my writing full-time when I retire. It's nice to know that, even though I would keep on writing without the support. But it's nice to have the support. I have enough work to keep me busy in the new year, and plans to travel and visit many people. I'm looking forward to the new year, and hope you are as well. I wish you all a very Happy 2018!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Some good songs

These are some of the songs that have gotten a lot of airplay here in 2017 on the different music channels......some new, some older, but all of them good......

Overwhelming the world

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” ― Desmond Tutu

As 2017 draws to a close, I am glad that I saw this little quote today--a reminder that whatever good we do, no matter how small, really does count. As I get older, I understand this more and more. It's not about the big gestures, but rather about the little ones. A small donation to a charity organization, or giving money (or food) to the beggars on the street, volunteering where your help might be needed, sending a card or letter to someone who is sick and/or immobile, a phone call to someone who might be lonely or depressed--the list is endless. I know that the small good things matter, because when I have done them, the reaction from the recipients is incredible. You would think that you had given them a million dollars. And that reaction is their gift to us. I have looked into the eyes of two homeless men on the street this month, after I had given them money. I saw gratitude, yes, but I saw their souls too; I saw that they were not so different from me. They just have less material things in this world. But they have the same desires and dreams as I do--to love and be loved, to be happy, to be remembered, to be acknowledged.

And that is my wish in this Christmas season--that if we have joy, love, and blessings in abundance, that we share those things with those who are less fortunate. I have talked to so many friends and colleagues during the past month, and we all say the same thing. We are fortunate, we have more than enough to live, to make us happy. We are blessed. And those blessings impart a certain power that we can tap into. We have the power to change lives, to make others feel loved and happy. We can start with the small things, because in the end, it is the small gestures that most people really do remember--the gift of your presence, your attention, your caring--taking the time to really 'see' others for who they are. It's about acknowledging and respecting others.

Wishing you all a blessed Christmas season and a healthy and happy new year. May God grant you peace and many blessings.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas video greeting from the US Embassy in Oslo

The US Embassy in Oslo seems to be starting a fun Christmas tradition--making humorous video Christmas greetings! This year's video Is called Merry Furry Christmas. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Road to Glory---Ozark Mountain Daredevils

Another great song by this band.......


There's a card game in the courtyard, and the winner loses all.

When the judge checks his supper, its so small.

And the hills are grey with trouble and the dry spring gathers dust.

Your lover's crying in the valley, she lost her trust.

But there is a road to glory, somehow headin' in the past,

Behind the gold, behind the treasure, behind the mask.

Then comes a team of four white horses, and a lady with night black hair.

And she looks to be such a fine one, but is she really there?

I've gotta knoooow owoo, I've gotta knooow owo, I've gotta know!

Written by Randle Chowning • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group

A beautiful song by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils--Lowlands

I was a teenager when this band was popular, and I fell in love with their album It'll Shine When It Shines, which came out in 1974. Jackie Blue was one of the songs on it that became a major hit. I loved it, and I loved Lowlands too, for its mournful, peaceful tones and rhythm. When I take a long look at the music my country has produced over the years, it makes me proud to be an American. My country is a rich mixture of so many different musical types and influences and those blends and heterogeneity are what define us. I'm not even sure why I came to think of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils today, but I'm glad I did, because I got a chance to hear Lowlands again after many years. I'm including the lyrics as well--pure poetry.

I heard a song that was taught to a baby
And it made the mountain sing
I knew a gift that was given to my lady
It was hidden in a dream

And there's a light in the lowlands
And a river that runs so clean
I'm a poor man feelin' lazy
And the lowlands are callin' my name

I knew a man who said he was a stranger
'Cause his heart he could not trust
I knew a man who could not face the dangers
Even though he knew he must

And it's hard in the lowlands
And the grasses will turn to rust
But the sun is a fountain
Flowing through the lowland's dust

Written by John Dillon • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group

Sunday, December 10, 2017

There are people who truly understand the meaning of the Christmas season

Whenever I am tempted to think that nothing nice ever happens in the world (a thought reinforced by the media that choose to cover only the lousy, depressing, horrific, grotesque and otherwise miserable stories in the world), something comes along to challenge that inclination. This story is true, I grew up in the same Tarrytown neighborhood (Tappan Landing Road) as Bill, the main person involved, and he deserves all the good things that come his way. Bill is going to the Super Bowl! Here is the link to the story:

Sunday, December 3, 2017

You say, God says

A friend of mine posted this yesterday on Facebook. It made an impression, especially in these days of so many world problems and depressing news. I don't know why I am so affected by it all, but I am. So it's good to be reminded that God has our backs even though we forget that sometimes........

Day 7 of the Facebook photo challenge

One of my personal favorites........I used this motif several years ago to make Christmas cards. There is something about the lighting and the snow falling, and the snow on the tree branches, that gives me peace of soul.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Day 4 of the Facebook photo challenge

Continuing with the black & white photo challenge on Facebook, a challenge that I have been enjoying. It's fun to try to come up with motifs that cannot include people. And difficult to not give an explanation for why I chose the motif I did, or where the photo was taken......

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Show your support for Net Neutrality

Show your support for Net Neutrality. Took me 2 minutes to do this.

1. On your computer, not your phone! - go to:
2. Enter under Proceeding 17-108.
3.Under Filer, enter your name and press enter
4. In comments, say you support Title 2 oversight of internet service providers. Also say that you support net neutrality.
*Fill in the form carefully; they've made it less friendly and impossible to fill in by phone, on purpose.
*Don't be silenced. Do it now. Pass it on.


Read about why you need to support Net Neutrality in this excellent article in The New York Times today:

Day 3 of the Facebook photo challenge

I posted this street art photo of The Gray Wolf that I took at the beginning of November, but am using the photo again for Day 3 of the black & white photo challenge on Facebook. I love this art by Jussi Twoseven. Here is the post: