Gone, Forgotten, and Dismissed: Obit for a Colleague

DATELINE: Corona of Career

It’s minor and troubling to almost no one, except perhaps me.

A colleague of many years passed away not quite ten years after retiring. She was on the faculty of our small college for thirty years, same time and same length as I.

As Robert Frost once said, happiness reaches in height what it lacks in length. We were the disgruntled, unhappy “employees” of the College, even denied being called “faculty” by administration in our living and breathing careers.

The rank of professor meant nothing much, a professor emeritus was denied to us.

How much worse can it be when we die off?

The announcement of her death form the Human Resources Center came from a director who never knew her. It was a pithy two sentences saying she had “worked” at the college in Nursing Department for many years. Because of the pandemic, there would be no services. There was no additional information.

And apparently no other remembrances or comments. This was her final moment on the college register. No eulogy, no thanks, no appreciation, no nothing.

It shall be the same for me. In a tight-knit department like Nursing, she was anathema: disliked by her colleagues for being a stickler for the regulations, and not participating in the social life of fake camaraderie among those with whom you share no politics. So it was for me.

There once existed a half-dozen of us from differing departments who sat together, a huddled small group, at all faculty meetings. We recognized each other as pariahs of the school. If we didn’t sit together, no one would sit with us.

In the past decade we retired to no particular fanfare. Now we are dying to no particular notice.

I visited her at her office now and then, gave her copies of my books that were published, and she was appreciative. Two other faculty of that ilk have also died in recent years. We were a grim little group of despised faculty members: not by students, but by our fellow faculty.

If no department head colleague will do cheerleading of your credentials, hard work, accomplishments at the college at death, then there is nothing more to be said.

You are relegated to non-person, name stricken from the record, students never to breathe your name unless in curse for a low grade.

Thus, the end came for another kind associate. It made me hope the college will be one of those they say may close its doors in a few years: let all of them on faculty for those decades  share the same fate.

This memorial eulogy is anonymous for an unnamed, unknown faculty member from a breed of small liberal arts colleges that are fading away one by one.

 

 

From Afar, but Too Close for Comfort!

 DATELINE: Caracas Maracas

 Smoldering Luis Silva.

A few years back, a film made in Caracas called From Afar caused a minor stir in arty film circles. Indeed, some reviews left by “average” viewers noticed the only people who were intrigued with the movie were “professional” movie-goers.

What a miniscule, expert audience indeed.

Most called this a “hate” story, not because they were homophobic elements to the May-December relationship of a 50-year old denture technician and a teenage boy with an interest in cars, but because it did not fit the convention of an upbeat gay story.

Good grief. Two unusual and secretive people may well behave in non-traditional ways—and perhaps they are not really nice people deep down. Another critical crack at the movie pointed out that the ending was obscure, downbeat, or negative.  Oh, no, not in a gay movie!

It is what it is. But, activist gay types are limiting the rainbow colors. Only positive gay images should appear in your movie.

The two star-actors (Luis Silva as Elder, Alfredo Castro as Armando) are quite perfect in their roles. As a stand-offish older man who really isn’t into sex with an angry, passionate younger man who is “straight,” we have the makings of a power play of chess moves.

There is indeed something smoldering below the surface in which the younger (named ironically Elder) may be manipulated into a trigger man for a dirty job.

This is not a movie for those who see subtle psychology as “boring.” If you cannot read a Henry James short story, you may not be able to sit through a 90-minute film about motives under the surface.

As for us, we give all movies an even-break. This one deserves much more for its integrity.

 

 

 

 

 

Halston: Fashionista with Un-Common Touch

DATELINE: Clothes Make the Woman

 Halston, Taylor, Minelli at Studio 54!

Fashion designer extraordinaire, Halston was part of a generation that self-immolated by 1990. Most of them were gone: trend-setting, pop culture icons:  notably Halston (he only needed one name, like Liberace). A fascinating documentary aptly named Halstontells the tale.

The 1950s gave young talents like Halston and Warhol a youthful connection to fame, but it was by the 1960s they took charge of their lives. Halston was a gypsy of America, living in no true fixed abode. So, he was likely to be self-made.

He was ambitious and flamboyant, ready to take his energy and ideas into all kinds of creative realms. He was the pioneer who made Europe take note of American fashion, though he was later given rivals like Perry Ellis and Calvin Klein.

Halston tried to stay ahead of the curve, branching out into aesthetics like perfume with bottles as arty as popular. He melded movies and fashion together, finding that his association with people like Liza Minelli and Elizabeth Taylor were ways to grow socially and artfully.

It started to go wrong when he splurged into Studio 54 with Warhol, Capote, and the raft of disco dollies. It was, some said, the beginning of a dissolution.

The documentary never says much about his aging, but it’s there: clearly losing youth to something harder. He became as hard as his looks, or perhaps his looks took on his personality: moody, bossy, self-centered.  It wasn’t pretty, when he started to be less pretty.

Others thought his greed was the deciding factor that led to his destruction: he sold out to J.C. Penney, going from class to mass appeal. It alienated his well-to-do friends and undermined his name. He actually sold his own name, and lost control of it.

The end featured more intrigue that Ancient Rome, as he was pushed out (literally locked out) of his own empire by locksmiths and Playtex bra people who bought his name. A few thought it was drugs that did him in, if not promiscuity.

It was the 1980s and the deadly virus that swept through art circles in theatre, fashion, music, especially in New York, took him too. Andy Warhol once said that he’d want Halston and Elizabeth Taylor as his chums because they were so nice.

This celebrity name-dropping documentary may stir memories in a generation grown old. Halston was loved by many people who felt he epitomized tragedy by the end.

 

 

 

 

Cousy Loses Mettle over Medal

DATELINE: Tarnished Hero with Feats of Clay

 Chump or Champ with Cousy?

On a night when when usually are talking about Ancient Aliens, we find ourselves facing a true abduction crisis and missing time. It seems that Boston Celtics legend, Bob Cousy, has been taken prisoner to the White House, turned back the clock to the years before the Civil Rights movement, and now he has become the voice of white racist America in the Oval Office.

Yes, Bob Cousy who reconciled whatever differences he had with fellow NBA legend Bill Russell has rekindled the fires.

He received a pat on the back from the President he most admires apparently in his lifetime. What happened to the Celtic legend?

Well, his Jesuit roots of Holy Cross conservatism emerged. Perhaps you can write him off as the aging hero outliving his standards of integrity. Growing old does not always mean you die of Alzheimer’s. Sometimes you simply become the epitome of everything you lived through and fought against.

Time makes us all doddering fools and blithering idiots. You can outlive your usefulness and your own personal values. It’s called betrayal by younger idealists, but it is far more powerful than that.

Cousy once teamed with Tommy Heinsohn on the parquet floor of the Boston Garden, and they were both brilliant and talented men beyond the game that made them famous. One season in retirement years they were even teamed up as fellow commentators for a season of Celtics games on TV. It was extraordinary to behold.

When they grew furious with each other, now and then, they simply called each other, “Thomas,” and “Robert.”

We wonder if Tom has started calling his friend of lifelong years, “Robert.” We know that William Russell may be doing so, if he is even speaking to his one-time nemesis in the locker room. Time wounds all heels and we have an Achilles heel ripped  apart by the President Medal of Freedom. 

Perhaps Couz showed his mettle by doing and saying whatever needed to receive his Medal. 

He stood next to a man who wants to give himself the Congressional Medal of Honor. Heaven help our old heroes from their blithering end of days.

Brideshead Remade & Revisited

DATELINE: Movies Over TV

Brideshead 2008

Sebastian and Charles in Happier Days.

Back in the early 1980s, one of the grandest early miniseries was that of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. It made stars out of Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews as the stylish Oxford boys of the 1920s.

It’s been re-made, of course, now a regular size movie, not a 14-hour epic. It is digestible, though the character of Charles is not palatable.

This time Ben Whishaw is the foppish noble Sebastian of Brideshead, and his friend is Charles (Matthew Goode) who has affairs with both brother and sister along his calculating life.

An abridged version still manages to capture all the salient details and key scenes, especially in the idyllic and romantic early days with Sebastian. Young Lord Flyte tries to keep Charles from his family, whom he knows will devastate their relationship. He never counted on the fact that Charles brought his own wrecking ball.

Whishaw seemed to have cornered the market on slightly epicene young men for a time, and Matthew Goode has made a career of elevating every movie and series he joins. He even showed up at Downton Abbey.

Emma Thompson is along as the devout Catholic mother of Sebastian, but it is Julia (played by Hayley Atwell) who is a lynchpin of the lynch mob. Nearly every character blames Charles for being a rapacious game player, though he is at a loss to understand the attacks.

The breaking point is Michael Gambon’s effective work as the family patriarch when Charles tries to prevent a priest from giving last rites to the man.

Part of the drama is the lead-up to his denial of self-knowledge that causes him to lose everything of meaning. Sebastian’s friend Antony scathingly notes he thought at first that Charles was a lamb, but later saw he was the true predator.

It may be news for the oblivious in the audience too.

The condensed movie of the longer miniseries is still effective and powerful. Fans of the 1980s version will recognize that one constant came back to replay its role.

Castle Howard once again stands in for Brideshead, and it is still undiminished in its majesty.

 

 

Three Identical Strangers

DATELINE: Triplets Separated at Birth

3some Reunited for a time.

Oh, a feel-good human-interest documentary? It’s called ironically Three Identical Strangers.

Not so fast. This movie is a roller-coaster that takes you to

emotional heights and depths you may not expect. It may be the most powerful film we have reviewed in quite some time: disturbing, funny, horrifying, exposing some unethical natures in our world.

Three gorgeous 19-year old men discover they are triplets separated at birth by a ruthless agency and uncaring birth mother. Eddy, Bobby, and David, are charming, but the little princes are about to face adversity.

Their tale of discovery is delightful and fun as they become 1980s media darlings, showing up on every talk venue of the era. They had found each other and nothing else mattered.

Their adoptive parents were distressed that the boys had been cruelly separated by the Wise Jewish Adoption Agency. But, the group stone-walled them and celebrated holding them at bay.

At first the boys did not care much, too overwhelmed in finding each other. Yet, as time passed, they began to see some horror in the mysterious separation.

About half through the film, you too will be shaken by the ruthless human experimentation: deliberately separating children who were twins or triplets for the egotistical study of a notable New York psychiatrist.

Even today, surviving members of the business shrug it off in an infuriating manner. Playing like Nazis with the lives of children did not bother them at all. It is revolting.

As for the boys, growing up to learn they were lab rats, may have done even more damage. The journalist who discovers the ugly secret cannot compel powerful forces to reveal why they did this nasty experiment—ripping apart children from their closest relatives.

The ultimate tragedy that befalls the triplets undercuts the happy-go-lucky age of discovery that had in 1981. What ultimately transpires will stun you.

This is powerful story-telling about crypto-Nazis in America.

 

 

One Last Look at Rajon Rondo

DATELINE:  Go Away, NBA!

RondoLaughs Rondo.

A few years ago we stopped writing our satiric, light-hearted blogs about sports in the NBA, NFL, and MLB.

If you want to know why, take a close look at the antics of the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA this weekend. A brawl of unimaginable hatreds broke out.

Former Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo was at the epicenter if the blowup.  However, we were not surprised that Rondo’s deep-rooted emotional problems have not abated with age or change of venue. We wrote three books on him while he played in Boston. He became increasingly dark, like a Darth Vader figure. He wasn’t funny or amusing by the end of the Boston tenure.

We were more appalled by the vocabulary and attitude of the official NBA investigation to this latest “spitting” on another player incident. The NBA has millions of dollars invested in presenting the players as cute, all-American boys who have made good.

The truth is far more disturbing. You have pampered, spoiled, egomaniacs with emotional problems, ghetto backgrounds, and gang-related ties. The NBA does not want to talk about that.

There is now a media cottage industry geared to protect these guilty parties from themselves. The cash cows are all around the sport—products, foods, endorsements, personality cults, and it is all a fraud perpetrated on the gullible public for their entertainment—and to sell the Brooklyn Bridge to unsuspecting fans amid fixes.

Are we surprised a brawl broke out based on ten-year old feuds and jealousies? Are we amused by the outmoded macho attitudes of these testosterone-drenched idiots?

The answer is simply we don’t write about them anymore, and that should be our final response to those who ask why we don’t present those funny, double-entendre drenched blogs nowadays.

35% of Americans: What a Fox News Poll Never Told Us!

 DATELINE:  When 35% is a Majority 

According to Foxy News, 35% of viewers know their bastion of fair and balanced news is fake most of the time.

“Oh, let’s call a spade a spade,” is the motto of 35% of Foxy Americans when it comes down to racial epithets.

35% of Americans seem to think nuclear obliteration is a viable option.

35% of Americans agree that they learned nothing in school and don’t believe their teachers knew much anyhow.

35% of Americans think experts are overrated.

35% of Americans believe anything they read on the Internet.

35% of Americans think hurricanes are God’s punishment for opposing Donald Trump.

35% of Americans want to have another Civil War with East and West Coast against the Middle to have better balance.

35% of Americans think the US Constitution sank during the War of 1812—and it just doesn’t hold up in the 21st century court system.

35% of Americans think satire is evil.

35% of Americans believe Donald Trump is as sane as they are.

35% of Americans, more or less, believe rational behavior is not normal.

Around 35% of Americans believe “white supremacist” is a kind of Cool Whip topping.

35% of Americans think the word “immigration” means birds fly south for the winter because of global warming.

35% of Americans believe “lethal injection” is covered under pre-existing conditions in Obamacare.

35% of Americans think black flies matter during the summer when you go camping.

35% of Americans believe sexual harassment is as American as apple pie and baseball.

35% of Americans firmly believe “morons” should have unlimited access to the Oval Office.

35% of Americans believe the President has the right to shoot people in the street, regardless of national origin or race, but mostly because of national origin and race.

35% of Americans believe you can kneel during the National Anthem while in church.

35% of your fellow citizens believe shutting off TV news is the only way to deal with fake news.

35% of Americans think missppelling and ‘grammer misstakes are covered, under freedom of speech:

35% of Americans think polls are polarizing and should be banned from media reports.

The preceding blog is often called satire, but is usually misunderstood by readers who believe 35% of smartphones know too much.

Rags and Tabloids Taunt Tom & Giselle

DATELINE: MARRIAGE-GO-ROUND-THE-BEND

 

Featured image  Tom & Giselle Deflating

That probably means us. Can there be trouble in Paradise? We are not as bad as Terez Owens, are we?

Tom and Giselle are reportedly bickering and thinking divorce: and his wife is ready to name a co-respondent:  it’s Deflategate.

Imagine if Tom wins his case and loses his trophy wife.

Since the power couple is tickling the bank accounts and stock market in the vicinity of half a billion dollars, we are not talking chicken feed. And, this is all the fault of Roger Goodell.

Tom and Giselle have two lovely children with whom they share Twitter fun moments, but Tom’s preoccupation with pigskin seems to be a detriment to his parenting and husbandry.

According to some reports, Giselle has walked out of the monumental mansion recently built in Brookline, Massachusetts, to serve as Camelot and Brigadoon.  Now it appears more like Brigadoon, about to disappear into the mists.

We might beg Tom to say it isn’t so. Strictly from a business point of view, this is a catastrophe of the first order—and from the moral that money can buy happiness, we are facing another fall from grace.

If the suspension passes, perhaps Tom will feel compelled to spend more time with wife and kids. If the suspension is upheld, perhaps Tom will consider walking away from the sport that may be ruining his personal life.

The great star loves football—but what price glory?