WALTHAM MATTERS SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP: Upcoming Event

Upcoming Plans for BOLLI Waltham Matters

by Sue Adams  (scadams@gmail.com)*

Special Exhibition: A Disability History of the United States at the Charles River Museum of Industry November 16 at 10:30 AM   

Stay tuned for a very special collaboration in November between the BOLLI Social Change Working Group and Waltham Matters.  On November 16 (third Friday), we will meet at the Charles River Museum for a guided tour of a special exhibit  put together by students at Gann Academy, a private high school in Waltham,  after extensive research.  Alex Green, former chair of the Waltham Historical Commission as well as a teacher at Gann,  will be our guide, and we hope we will also meet some of the students who were involved in devising this project.  Waltham Matters is very pleased to co-sponsor this presentation, and we extend thanks to Cindy Wentz, BOLLI’s  Equity, Inclusion and Disability Liaison, for her support.

Parking for the museum is ONLY at the Embassy movie theater parking lot at the foot of Cooper Street. Follow the signs and cross the river at the footbridge; bear right, and follow the road to the museum entrance. There is a small parking fee (free if you have purchased a parking pass at the Stanley Senior Center on Main Street). The museum charges a nominal $5 admission for Seniors..

Other News:

Waltham Matters planning team has put together a monthly lecture or walking tour on (usually) the fourth Fridays since April, working from suggestions offered by you, our BOLLI Waltham Matters participants. So far we have paid attention to local history and historic sites, as well as art and a walk along the Charles River led by the director of the Waltham Land Trust. We are a collaborative and participatory group with wide ranging interests. I encourage you to help expand our reach with suggestions and ideas and join in making interesting events happen. Future programs may include a look at theater in town, a talk by the director of Africano, a talk with local education leaders, a conversation with the director of the Senior Center/Council on Aging.  What would you like to see? Perhaps you’d like to launch a project to catalogue the outdoor art around campus?  Let me know!

Spread the word–and join us on November 16.

“Waltham Matters” special interest group chair Sue Adams

Long-time Waltham resident Sue is active in Chaplains on the Way, Connections for Healthy Aging, Neighbors Who Care, and the League of Women Voters.  Semi-retired from the Unitarian Universalist Funding Program and the Access Project, in her spare time, she–wait–there’s no spare time!  But she divvies up what there is among her husband Ron, kids, grandkids, and one great-grand.  Life is full and good.

POP CULTURE WITH DENNIS GREENE: IT’S TIME…

It’s Time They Were Recognized

By Dennis Greene

            I am guilty of putting up a variety of false fronts. I spend lots of time with my golf buddies talking Red Sox, Patriots, and Bruins. I know the scores and the stats, and after a round, I usually join them in a beer, even though I would prefer to go to J.P. Licks and have a chocolate ice cream soda with vanilla ice cream. I try to act like a guy’s guy.

Each week, I attend the New Yorker magazine discussion group. I read the chosen item carefully and attempt to make insightful comments. I try to appear as an erudite student of literature, but I know my unfamiliarity with authors like Alice Munro or Richard Ford gives me away. My literary false front isn’t very convincing.

This term, I am enrolled in a class about the incomprehensible workings of our universe. We are learning about Einstein’s General and Special Theories of Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and the relationship of time, space, mass, light, and energy. I try to act as if I am interested in understanding these mind stretching subjects, but it is another pose. I just want to understand what Sheldon Cooper is talking about on The Big Bang Theory.

I am a closet TV sit-com nerd, and after 10 years, I feel compelled to speak out. The “Me Too” movement focused my attention on our society’s treatment of women, and I have long been aware of yet another area where they are treated unjustly. For the past decade, I have noted the accolades heaped on Jim Parsons for his role of Sheldon Cooper, while Kaley Cuoco, who, as Penny, carried the show from the start, has received little professional recognition. Until two other female actors joined the cast, Penny was on screen almost full time with one or the other of the three male leads, and she carried them all. Sure, she earns lots of money but no individual Emmy nominations. To add insult to injury, since Mayim Bialik joined the cast, she has been nominated for the Emmy almost every year. Not to say Mayim doesn’t do an excellent job, but she joined an established hit and already had celebrity from her prior success as Blossom, while Kaley made The Big Bang Theory a hit. The lack of recognition received by extraordinary women actors in successful sit-coms (ok, Tina Fey, Julia Louis Dreyfus, and Chloris Leachman aside) is inexcusable.  And this trend seems to be continuing.

Recently, I saw an episode of Young Sheldon, a prequel showcasing Dr. Sheldon Cooper in his youth.  Ian Armitage, the young actor playing the nine -year-old Sheldon, is masterful in capturing Sheldon’s mannerisms, quirks, and idiosyncrasies and is already a frequent guest on TV talk shows and late night TV.  It is likely that he will be as celebrated as Jim Parsons was in the role. But, in this pop culture geek’s humble opinion, the best characters on the show are Sheldon’s Meemaw, played by Annie Potts, and Sheldon’s twin sister Missy.  Annie Potts dominates every scene she is in.  She did the same thing in the movie Ghost Busters 34 years ago. While Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray, and Chevy Chase went on to become household names, Annie Potts–despite her success on Designing Women–remains relatively unknown. And I have noticed little fanfare for Raegan Revard, the spunky and talented young actor who, as Missy, is the perfect foil for young Sheldon.

As a recently motivated, male geek feminist, I would like to call for an end to this injustice to women in TV sit-coms by showing some love and an Emmy nomination groundswell for Young Sheldon’s Meemaw, Annie Potts.

BOLLI MATTERS Feature Writer Dennis Greene

Dennis spent five years as an engineer and then forty as a lawyer–and sixty as a pop culture geek and junkie.  He saw “The Day the Earth Stood Still” in 1951 when he was seven and has been hooked on speculative fiction ever since.  

LINES FROM LYDIA: SKYWARN SPOTTER Rob Macedo

SKYWARN SPOTTER ROB MACEDO

Rob Macedo at the National Weather Services Headquarters in Taunton

by Lydia Bogar

Red Sox, lobsta, Vineyard v. Nantucket, chowdah…and weather! Topics we New Englanders love to talk about—with the weather and its local propensity to change every ten minutes coming in at the top of the list.

This summer, we have seen a heat index of 106 degrees.  So, will we see a wind chill of 18 degrees below zero this winter?

On Monday October 22nd, we will hear from a self-professed weather geek, Rob Macedo, Amateur Radio Coordinator for the National Weather Service Boston/Norton SKYWARN program.

Rob has always had an interest in weather, a passion that peaked when his father gave him an Amateur Radio when he was 8 years old.  His uncle was an Amateur Radio Operator, and when Ron was in high school—with the support of both his dad and his uncle–he earned his Amateur Radio license. During his years at UMass Dartmouth, Rob wove a fabric of electronics, algorithms, graphs, and meteorology into a degree in electrical engineering technology. Since graduation, he has been employed at EMC/Dell.

Ron was SKYWARN trained in 1996. “It’s amazing to be trusted by the National Weather Service to teach SKYWARN to the general public,” he says.  “I feel that technology and weather can be very complementary.”  He goes on to say that “Collecting valuable weather and damage reports is a data science problem that can be solved through technology–and the work of good people. I would say, some weeks, my time commitment to SKYWARN is just a few hours, but in stormy periods, it can be up to 30 hours.” But, he reports, “The stormy times are always the most interesting!”

There are over 7000 SKYWARN Spotters in the NWS Boston/Norton coverage area. One-third are also Amateur Radio Operators.

Rob prefers not to comment on the veracity of the Farmer’s Almanac and continues to be amazed by the mechanics of the National Hurricane Center.

He would like to go storm chasing in the future, but for right now, he’s busy working with a global team on advanced data storage issues in the EMC division of Dell Technologies. In his not-so-spare time, in anticipation of upcoming snowfall totals, Rob collects damage reports and rainfall totals from across the state.

Check out the SKYWARN website at: https://www.weather.gov/box/skywarn

Seasoned sailor or ambitious golfer, the weather impacts our lives every day. Come to the BOLLI Gathering Space on Monday October 22nd to meet Rob Macedo of NWS Boston SKYWARN.

Frequent BOLLI blogger, Lydia Boga

Our own “Renaissance Woman,” Lydia has done everything from teaching English to doing volunteer emergency service.  She says she “hails from Woosta– educated at BOLLI.”

OCTOBER BOLLI AFTER DARK: IN PRAISE OF COMMUNITY THEATRE (AND HALLOWEEN)

                    In Praise of Community Theater                     (and Halloween)

by Donna Johns

BOLLI recently hosted Celia Couture for a noontime talk. Celia is an esteemed regional theater director, and she gave an interesting talk on the pleasures and risks of presenting edgy, thought-provoking plays to community theater audiences. That got me thinking about which local groups were tackling challenging material this fall. Here’s a short list of plays you might want to check out this fall.

Hovey Players in Waltham is presenting Ideation by Aaron Loeb. A group of consultants are pulled together for a top secret assignment. At first, it looks like just another day at the office. Ground rules like “no powerpoint” are scribbled on a white board. But as their instructions come in from the boss, it becomes obvious that they are being tasked with finding a way to dispose of a million or more dead bodies. Are they being sucked in to planning a holocaust? And do they care? Performances-November 23, 24, 30, December 1, 6, 7, 8 at 8PM and December 2 at 2pm  Click the Hovey link above for more information.

The Arlington Friends of the Drama takes an off kilter look at Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard is a Tony Award winning play described as an absurdist tale of fate and free will. The language is luscious as the audience is treated to a retelling of Hamlet from two minor characters’ points of view. This clip with Benedict Cumberbatch will give you a sense of Stoppard’s special brand of lunacy.  Performances November 30 – December 9, 2018. Click the Arlington Friends link above for ticket information.

Tcan Center for Arts in Natick tackles that age old question: what is my purpose in life? Princeton, a new college graduate, moves to Avenue Q and learns a lot about life from his neighbors. In case you didn’t know, this entire tale is told by puppets. Called “Sesame Street for adults,” Avenue Q is a Tony award winning musical which has a lot to think about. Check out this clip of “Everyone’s a Little Racist” for a taste of the fun. Performances are November 9,10,11,15,16,17,18 2018. Click on tcan above for more information.

For all you scientists out there…check out the Concord Players production of Arcadia by Tom Stoppard. Thomasina, a precocious thirteen year-old, asks her tutor why jam mixed into rice pudding can never be unstirred? The play unfolds from that not so simple question as Stoppard weaves tales past and present together with dollops of physics, mathematics, sex and romantic poetry.  Here’s a sampler from Yale Repertory Theater. Performances are November 2-17. Click on Concord Players above for more information.

And here’s the best part: all four of these fascinating plays can be seen for as little as $80. Before you order tickets, check out Goldstar.  They frequently offer community theater tickets at half price. For example, right now, the Arlington Friends of the Drama tickets for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are being offered for $10. Just type “community theater” in the Goldstar search box to see all the choices.

If theater is not your thing, Goldstar can be a great resource for fun Halloween activities. Among their offerings are discounted tickets for a HalloWeekend Pub Crawl at the Hard Rock Cafe, a Ghost Tour in Harvard Square, and a Haunted Speakeasy at Bull Mansion New American Bistro in Worcester.

Autumn is, indeed, a wonderful season for BOLLI After Dark!

BOLLI Matters feature writer Donna Johns

Donna Johns is a teacher/librarian, writer of unpublished romance novels, sometime director of community theater and new BOLLI member. She now has two fantastic faux knees…which set off the metal detectors at Fenway Park.

 

 

 

PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY, 1792-2018

Percy Bysshe Shelly (1792-2018)

by Eleanor Jaffe

I woke up with Shelley on my mind, which was very strange because I had not thought of Percy Bysshe Shelly (1792-1822) since I was an English major at Brooklyn College a long time ago.  All that had been on my mind were the Kavanaugh hearings at the Senate Judiciary Committee and Trump’s harangue to the United Nations about his triumphs since becoming President.  Nevertheless, my unconscious made these connections between Shelley and my perceptions of contemporary political life.

To me, this is how Shelley predicted our current Republican majority in the Senate Judiciary Committee (from “Queen Mab,” 1813):

Power, like a desolating pestilence,                                                Pollutes whate’er it touches; and obedience                                                     Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth,                                                       Makes slaves of men, and, of the human frame,                                                    A mechanized automaton.

In his 1817 poem, “Ozymandias,” Shelley describes the decaying remains of a once supreme king. The traveler who discovers the remains describes:

Two vast and trunkless legs of stone,                                                                   Stand in the desert.  Near them, on the sand,                                                    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown                                               And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command                                                    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read.

 The once powerful king had boasted:                                                                    “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:                                                               Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”                                               Nothing beside remains.  Round the decay                                                            Of that colossal wreck…”

I no longer remember the political machinations of Shelley’s England that led him to make these poetic observations.  However, in my opinion, he provides poetic insight into our current political circus.  The majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee has shown itself to be slave-like in its obedience to Power.  And Trump’s boastfulness would make Ozymandias jealous!  What do you think?

BOLLI Matters feature writer Eleanor Jaffee\

Eleanor says that, since November of 2016, her activist nature has been reawakened.  In addition to writing for BOLLI Matters, she has teamed up with fellow member Elaine Dohan to form BOLLI’s new and vibrant “Make a Difference” special interest group.

STORIES FROM STEVE: AT THE MOVIES

As Steve Goldfinger has been one of our most prolific BOLLI Matters writers, we thought it only fitting that we give him his own feature for his blend of memoir and creative nonfiction writing.  Welcome to the stable, Steve!

AT THE MOVIES

by Steve Goldfinger

My fright alarm went off for the first time when I was three years old.   It was my first movie, and the picture, my parents later told me, was Pinocchio.  It was Stromboli who caused me to shriek and them to carry me out to the lobby and then home.

Little has changed since then when it comes to my shriek alarm.  I left The Deer Hunter when  the Russian roulette scene had the soldier pointing a gun to his temple. I knew enough to never even try to watch Jaws or Psycho. If I had known about the bathtub scene at the end of Diabolique, I would have been spared that episode of chest pain and tachycardia. I was brave enough to join friends to see Fatal Attraction–but not without a blue woolen sweater to cover my eyes at the scene they warned  me would be coming. I adjusted the pull length on the sweater to obtain a suitably gauzy image, but this maneuver prevented me from stuffing my ears to quench the music as it amped and crescendoed at the same time.

Much as I would try to imagine an orchestra on the set (ridiculous!) or a director in a chair in front of the actors and a hanging microphone just above their heads but cut away, it never worked . I just got too rapt up and would totally suspend any whiff of disbelief.

A sequel to the Saw series, a horror movie for the the films’ avid followers, will be released just before Halloween–concocted by none other than my own Peter Goldfinger and his writing partner, Josh Stohlberg.  How could such a thing happen?

It is not Pete’s first venture into the horror genre.  He is married to Jen Jostyn who had a lead role in House of a Thousand Corpses; and  yes, its producer, named Rob Zombie, remains one of their close friends.  A while back, the Pete and Josh duo wrote Sorority Row and Pirhana-3D which outdid Jaws by about a hundred mutilations, most of them attractive coeds being plucked from a lake and halved by huge scaly carnivores. The lake gradually reddened as the action progressed.

When I arrived to visit Pete in Los Angeles, he told me it was my lucky day–I could come on the set when they were filming Sorority Row.   The nude scene.  Well, maybe that wouldn’t be so bad.   I discovered that viewing a horror movie in the flesh, so to speak, wasn’t really that upsetting.  Not at all horrible.

So I await the pre-Halloween event. The title of this one is Jig Saw. I’ve seen a few trailers on my iPad.  And I’m saving my blue woolen sweater for the real thing.

Frequent BOLLI Matters writer Steve Goldfinge

Since joining BOLLI nearly three years ago, after a long career in medicine, Steve has been exploring his artistic side.  He has taken writing classes and participated in the Writers Guild throughout but has also taken part in CAST and the Book Group.  

OCTOBER LINES FROM LYDIA: THE HOUSE AT 25

THE HOUSE AT 25

by Lydia Bogar

I can return to the house at 25 because, when I cleaned it out and sold it three years ago, I did so with respect. Respect for the efforts taken by Daddy to buy it. The efforts of Mom, with love and support from Papa, to keep it. Respect for the gardens, the contents of the cabinets, the memories in the cellar. I can sit in the zero-gravity chair at Liza’s house, in my brother’s old room, enjoy the reflexology, and not be intimidated by the room that was his space. The best part is that I can easily say I am going to Liza’s house.  Not home.  Not Mom’s.  Not my old house.

The house is full of life again, a life of a different kind.  A single woman gardener who cooks from scratch but who is not my mother. In at least a hundred ways, she is not my mother.  A nurse.  A massage therapist.  A lesbian.  And yet, she is like her.

Liza has a few of Mom’s cookbooks. It seemed the right thing to do. She keeps them in the same place on the counter where Mom kept hers.  Kindred spirits.  Since Liza believes in and practices alternative, holistic medicine, I wonder if Mom will communicate with her from heaven.  Absolutely in heaven, nothing half way for Ruthie.  Nothing  halfway, I suspect, for Liza either.

Liza is not an ordinary nurse but a holistic nurse working with distressed patients in a community clinic.  In it for the long haul. She is fearless and focused, which at her core, was also my mother. The mother, the widow, the only child.  The survivor.

Two dogs, one old Bassett and one very spunky mongrel. There is dog damage at 25–chewed baseboard and door trim.  A cracked window not repaired.  The garage no longer holds my mother’s odds and ends but Liza’s odds and ends, mostly for her gardening. I have not been in the cellar yet, but it isn’t necessary for me to go there. I know this house, every bit of it, and yet, it is no longer mine.  Mine is at number 8. Mine for 44 years, twice the length of time that I lived at 25.

Twenty-five.  Written out, it doesn’t taste different.  With the exception of the dog fence, the yard looks the same.  Maybe when those big ugly old pines come down, it will look different. The Shasta daisies look the same. The Rugosa roses that trail the ranch fence. The flamboyant Scotch Broom that welcomes spring. The shed–with its tired, ragged doors open–looks abandoned. The birdhouse that I made at camp in 1958 is no longer on the south side of the shed. It is on a tree at number eight. The dogs and cats that live at twenty-five run in and out of the shed, taking refuge from the rain or heat, soon to be snow and cold.

Scout, the frantic Beagle mix, barely reminds me of Bobo, my first dog.  My clearest image of Bobo is a small black and white photo of her with Daddy.  Poor, silly old girl. She kept Mom company as the nest emptied.

That thought reminds me of the crazy Malamute that Steven adopted when he got out of the Air Force in 1973. That dog chewed the headboard and then the smaller, wagon-wheel footboard. What a sad sight that was.

Dogs own houses and people.

BOLLI Matters co-editor and feature writer Lydia Bogar

Our own “Renaissance Woman,” Lydia has done everything from teaching English to doing volunteer emergency service.  She says she “hails from Woosta– educated at BOLLI.”

OCTOBER SENIOR MOMENT: WITH GRATITUDE

Liz has decided to leave our BOLLI Matters feature writing crew for other pursuits.  Here, she writes about the importance of gratitude in her life…and we are grateful for her contributions to our BOLLI blog!  

WITH GRATITUDE

By Liz David

For this, my final Senior Moment blog post, I was thinking of writing once again about the topic, “Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be.”  The only additional thing I have to say, though, is that I think we can only judge what the best may have been, or is, in retrospect; upon reflection on the moments large and small that have moved us, thrilled us. They could be moments of deep contemplation or joyous abandon.  They could be moments in relationship with others or alone. So, we all need to decide whether “the best is yet to be,” as in a future time or place, or, in the present moment, I’ll leave up to you.

What I really want to write about is gratitude.

Thank you, Sue Wurster for inviting me to write for the Senior Moments blog.  I don’t know why you thought of me, but you have given me the opportunity to voice my opinions, thoughts, advice through poetry, prose, and other writer’s words.  It has been a challenge–affirming and deeply satisfying. Most of all, I have deep gratitude for your support, advice, and friendship.

Thank you, Eleanor Jaffe, for accepting Sue’s invitation as well, so that we could be partners in this endeavor.  Our sharing this responsibility has deepened my appreciation of your talents as a writer, a teacher, and a good friend.

Thank you,  Barry David, for being my best friend, support, and encourager-in-chief.  My gratitude is boundless.

Thank you to the BOLLI community for your support, encouragement, and comments–both written and verbal—in response to my writing.  I am deeply grateful for the friendships and connections I have made over the years.

In his book “Gratitude,”  Oliver Sachs writes, and I paraphrase, “I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude.  I love and am loved. I give much and receive much in return.”   I have read and thought and written.

I, Elizabeth, feel gratitude deep down in my bones.

So, grow old along with me–the best is what we make of this fragile life and how we live it with gratitude.

Senior Moment writers Eleanor Jaffe (left) and Liz David

We can’t thank you enough, Liz, for your many contributions to BOLLI Matters over the course of the past two years.  Your very thoughtful and perceptive pieces have touched all of us.!

Interested in doing some “Senior Moment” writing for our BOLLI audience?   Contact Sue at susanlwurster@gmail.com