Monthly Archives: May 2022

Character assassination

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No, this is not an article about what people say about my fabulous life and how they blow my trips to the Caribbean and my relationships with unbelievably rich men all out of proportion. For one thing, I don’t have an interesting enough life for that kind of character assassination. No, my complaint goes much deeper.

When I protest character assassination, I am talking about the way all of these entertainment series kill off the characters on the shows that I love the best. How can they take perfectly wonderful, loveable people who are doing no more harm than your average mockingbird, and kill them off? (Didn’t get that reference? Read To Kill a Mockingbird; it’ll be good for your soul.)

Looking back, I realize that this began a long time ago, when I first began to read and enjoy books. Who could read Gone With the Wind and not cry buckets of tears when the beautiful-souled Melanie Hamilton Wilkes bowed out in the last pages? She should have lived forever, but did she? Oh, no, it was much more important that she perish, so we could all wonder, like Scarlett, how we would go on without her?

Early television shows understood the need to delicately balance evil and danger in the world with the lives of the main characters. After all, Marshall Dillon was a lawman in Dodge for 20 years and never did more than wince from a bullet through the shoulder. He never died in the line of duty. He never married Miss Kitty, either, but that’s a story for another time!

Oh sure, sometimes our favorite characters suffered a loss–for instance, it was always bad luck for a woman to fall in love with a Cartwright–but so what? They survived, buried the hapless woman, dried their tears and spent another week riding the range on the Ponderosa. They didn’t die themselves!

Today, however, for the sake of “realism”, characters in these programs must die. I say, why? It is not necessary for a long-running crime drama to have the sweet, understanding little wife of one of the main detectives die. What was the point of blowing her up in a helicopter–I liked her character better than the rest combined and I never saw it coming. I, like her devastated husband, didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.

It was a real shocker then, that I absolutely fell in love with the calm, down-to-earth heir to Downton Abbey, only to have the rug jerked out from under me only three seasons in. I could even see this one coming, as he climbed into that automobile and started driving, I was in front of the television screaming, “No, Matthew! Look out for that truck!” But he didn’t hear me and then he was gone.

It’s been a blood bath ever since. If I fall in love with a character on a show, of course they are going to die. The strong, big-hearted priest, who stepped in front of an arrow to save the young warrior devastated me nearly as much as it did the leader, but he could have been spared the grief if they had just left the poor man alive! And then there is the unconscionable murder of Han Solo by his own son. What are these people thinking????

The latest in this long line of assassinations is the story I have been following about a group of time travelers. I have really come to enjoy it, and I particularly was charmed by the young female time traveler who became the client, then the friend and then the lover of a man who was so sweet and gentle and accepting, that he supported and affirmed everything about the girl. He wasn’t a traveler, though, so two episodes from the end of the series found our young time traveler, sobbing into the lifeless body of the most perfect guy I’ve ever seen—who died being heroic, of course!

Now, someone’s bound to tell me that these character assassinations are due to actor decisions, budget constraints, and dramatic effect, and I will tell you that I simply do not care. They have taken away my trust and although I will continue on with other programs, I’m not sure that I can give my heart to any more of the wonderful characters, because I think the producers of these shows are in my head and they know just how to hurt me. So I say, give me my innocence back–stop the blood bath. And as a matter of safety for you all; never marry a Cartwright!

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The secret life of an accountant

It is not an easy life for my husband, the accountant. He is a meticulous bookkeeper and understands all that audit and taxes stuff so well. What he has not yet figured out is his wife’s accounting system for the household finances.

I found the above pictured records book when I was cleaning out some drawers today. I’m sure it’s something I bought to do a better job of keeping track of my spending, but it apparently didn’t work. I say this because inside this little book are pages lined with neat columns for recording spending and wonderful little pockets to hold receipts, etc. The year on this book is 2016 and if you could look inside the book right now, you would see that all the pages are still fresh and new and have never been marred by something so tacky as…say, financial records!

I always mean well. Sometimes I even get started keeping track…but I always fall apart and the house is littered with these blank little financial record books, which find their way into deep drawers or dark corners, never to be seen again.

So my accountant lives a secret life of shame over his wife’s financial failings. He learned early in the marriage to get me my own checking account, so that the bank wouldn’t think that he, an accountant, couldn’t keep track of his own finances. He disdains checkbooks with duplicate checks, preferring his own method of daily recording, but he has made me a gift of those handy duplicates, so random checks don’t get away from me and louse up my calculations.

He tried to keep my checkbook balanced and reconciled, but eventually, he sought to avoid the monthly argument–“What did you spend $50 at the Wax Waters for?” “Wax Waters? $50? Are you sure that’s my checkbook?” in any way he could. He turned the whole bank reconciliation over to me, declaring that federal tax laws were easier to understand than my scribblings. I make it a point never to ask for his help (because it ages him), but sometimes I spend some sleepless nights wondering how I could have lost $4,000 when I don’t have $4,000 in the whole account, and little stuff like that.

In the first bloom of love, Roy thought we would be able to strategize on a budget and then, get this, actually stick to the budget. He was so young and trusting! After two months, I was in the hole in almost every category and by six months, I was spending the budget in books and shoes for two years after our tenth anniversary!

In desperation, he tried to establish spending rules like, “If it’s going to cost over $100, let’s discuss it first.” I thought that was reasonable, so I agreed. The trouble is, I never know when it’s going to be over $100, unless I’m buying a house or a car, because I can’t add very well in my head. So the discussion usually ended up being conducted after the purchase was made and at the top of our lungs.

Over the years, we have developed a system that seems to work for us. He puts money aside for large expenditures and manages it very well. I handle purchases for far less money and with far less success at managing it!

So as you can see, the secret life of my accountant is a pretty desperate one, because when it comes to handling finances, opposites apparently do attract! Meanwhile, I’ll go out and buy another financial records and budget calendar book for this year…and no doubt, it will cost more than it should and will end up at the bottom of a convenient drawer! But don’t tell my husband–he probably already knows anyway!

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Space, the final frontier…

Sometimes, you just have to own who you are. You have to admit that you actually enjoy the creamy middle of an Oreo or that you really do laugh at the Flintstones–when secretly watching them–while eating the middles-only out of a bunch of Oreos.

But for me, this is nowhere near my biggest quirk. In fact my quirk, rhymes with quirk–because I have an on-going love affair with Captain Kirk and all things Star Trek! It started with Kirk and the Enterprise on its five-year mission, graduated to Picard and the Next Generation, moved on to Sisko at Deep Space Nine and got flung into the Delta quadrant with Janeway on Voyager. Then, I came home to Captain Archer and the first Enterprise.

Unless you are a giant Star Trek nerd like me, the previous paragraph will make no sense. Suffice it to say that I am addicted to anything which begins, “Space, the final frontier….” If it has to do with Star Trek, I am there for it.

My obsession is very well-known, in particular by my children. They are never at a loss as to what to give me as gift: “Does it have Star Trek on it somewhere? Great, my Mom will love it!” They have given me a wide variety of Star Trek merchandize over the years, and so for this article, I tried to collect and take a picture of all of the Star Trek things they have gifted me, which you see above. You should know that this is not even all of the things I have received, it is just the ones I collected over five minutes of walking through the house.

This collection of Star Trek memorabilia tells you several things about the quirky individual who is me. First, you should know that while I care nothing for mechanics of any kind, I have a schematic of the Star Ship Enterprise hanging prominently on my wall. Second, I have a set of Pez dispensers featuring the heads of the crew of the Next Generation, which has never been opened, even though my grandchildren have suggested it any number of times. Third, I once owned three pairs of Star Trek socks, but because the dog particularly liked the taste of them, I am now down to half that number–one sock from each pair, of course.

Each Christmas, I proudly hang the Federation Star Ship Voyager on my tree and when I am bored at night, I sit down and read my Star Trek book which details the original series, episode by episode and then I watch those episodes on my digitally enhanced set of CDs. I have collections of snow globes and mugs and I have Star Trek features for each of those collections.

My daughter gave me a Star Trek coffee mug for my Mother’s Day present this year, but her instructions were, “Make sure you use it!” How could I possibly do that? It shows the Star Trek crew in relative safety on their ship, but if I fill the cup with hot coffee, they are immediately transported to a strange and alien world. I can’t do that, can I? Besides, the people who made the cup are pretty sure we are none too bright, because on the outside bottom of the cup, it says, “Best results if used from the other end.”

However, since I try to be a good parent, I decided I should use the cup just to suit her. So, I made my morning coffee, poured it in the recommended end and watched the Star Trek crew go where no one has gone before. I then tasted the coffee–and immediately spit it out. The new mug, which was properly washed, made the coffee taste like I’d strained it through the Captain’s communication devise! Plastic or metallic or something!

It’s just as I thought, the cup is meant to be admired, placed in my collection and valued for its Star Trek connection. So, if you don’t mind, I believe I will place it on the shelf along with my genuine Star Trek cold mug and my very lovely lap throw, featuring Spock saying, “Fascinating.”

So now, you know the secrets of my very fine quirk. I do hope my children continue to gift me with memorabilia from all of the Star Trek programs and when we, as a culture, finally do “boldly go where no one has gone before”…well, I’ll be watching from home, surrounded by my space things!

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Technology challenged addict…

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I think it will come as a surprise to no one that when it comes to technology, I struggle. Additionally, I am okay with that fact. I take great pride in the fact that I don’t use cell phones, I can barely manage a laptop and as for printers and other higher-order machines, I am at a loss. I don’t even relax watching television, because I have to figure out which of the five remotes I have, will operate what particular functions on the television.

I don’t think I should be judged too harshly for this. When I grew up, telephones were attached to the wall and they had what we call party lines. That meant that if someone else on your line was giving their telephone friend a long recipe or the neighborhood children were engaged in a hog-calling contest down the telephone, you couldn’t even get on the phone, let alone, make use of so-called “apps” of any kind.

My grandmother always told me she was born in a world where they traveled by horse and buggy and she lived to experience flying in airplanes. I had trouble relating to this until I stopped to consider that I was born into a world with a television tube in a box containing no remote and three stations (if you were lucky) and a phone attached to a cord, and I have lived long enough to operate the flat screen television with double remotes like I’m John Wayne at a shootout. In addition, I live in a world today where the phone isn’t attached to the wall anymore, it’s attached to people’s hands and it does everything for you except brush your teeth. That’s quite a leap!

I have always had scorn for those who cannot live without their technology and I admit, I’ve been pretty snotty about it. A person like me is bound to get her due humbling and that’s what happened to me this week.

My husband was deep into the NFL draft on the large living room television and I was complaining long and loud about not having anything to watch for me.

“I bought you a new television for your birthday last year, go watch it,” he answered my complaints.

“I can’t. It isn’t set up right, ever since the electricity went out last November. I can’t figure it out,” I was really peeved–my favorite shows were coming on and I was missing them!

“Use the downstairs television,” he suggested next, while simultaneously yelling at the Vikings for their latest picks.

“The downstairs TV hasn’t worked since you got mad because the one remote wasn’t working and then the other remote wouldn’t work and you ended up firing those things at it like a tenderfoot gunslinger in an arcade hall.”

Oh well, I would simply go on the internet and see what was happening. You know what happened next. The Internet was down. And nothing I could do (which wasn’t much) would bring it back. I was reduced to picking out little text messages on my phone, which didn’t like my fat fingers and kept losing signal, even when I held it up in the air, balancing on the top rung of the deck railing.

Okay, so maybe I am addicted. And it was especially bad when I finally did get the upstairs television and discovered that when your internet is out, so is Netflix. What? But I have so many series on there that are only half-watched! I must have Netflix!

With shaking fingers, I called the Internet providers and they agreed to send someone out…in two days. Two Days????!!!! I can’t wait two days for television, Netflix, Facebook! The withdrawal was real and I was chewing on all ten fingers by the time they finally got a serviceman here. He asked me a lot of technical questions and I answered all of them by saying, “I don’t know. Just fix it.” He suspiciously sniffed the glass of apple juice on ice I was drinking and then went to work.

He spent two hours changing wires, testing boxes and reworking remotes. It turns out there was a faulty cable on the kitchen television and that’s why it wouldn’t set up. He reduced the remotes to one on all televisions because he said the downstairs television was working fine, but had been so jumbled up with using the wrong remotes, it couldn’t function. The internet needed a new something that apparently had broken and we had to re-set all the computers and even the phones. As for Netflix, that worked like a charm, as soon as the Internet was up.

I have reached the sad conclusion that I am indeed a technology junkie, just like all the others, but my addiction might be worse, because I depend on someone else to keep me going with it. In addition, it is an on-going problem with no easy fix in sight. Today, I went to Roy, who was trying to take a nap and said, “Let’s play some cards or something.”

“I’m tired, let me nap,” he responded. “Go watch Netflix or something.”

“Well, that’s just it,” I whined. “Netflix isn’t working again. And I don’t which remote to use to fix it.”

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