Thursday, August 22, 2019

We are the World! (excerpt)

The earnestness with which people sang this lame little ditty is lamentable, but it's kind of an artifact of its times. Even Bob Dylan stood there, not really singing but looking very uncomfortable. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Amazing skating gif!

Bullwinkle's Corner - the 1961 commercials

"It's not that I don't trust you, William Tell,
But first I have some Cheerios to sell!"

Some of the best commercials of the era. For certain, the best animated commercials. And for double-sure, the best Cheerios commercials.

Along with The Flintstones and Top Cat, Rocky and Bullwinkle was among that rare cartoon series which was shown in prime time. Along with the continuing adventures of "Moose and Squirrel" in Frostbite Falls, we had Peabody and Sherman, Fractured Fairy Tales and the inimitable Dudley Do-right. Attempts to turn these into live-action movies were a miserable failure. You had to be there. 

Meantime, here's an obvious animation mistake that reveals just how low-budget these things were in the '60s. It was the style then. Characters could appear and disappear, and either nobody noticed, or nobody cared.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

, , , Or is THIS causing the tornadoes?

Talkback 16: Cars Causing Tornadoes?

I think this person may be on to something. Hey, look at the increase in tornadoes recently! Either Satan is loosed upon the world, God is bringing down his hammer of wrath, or it's just cars causing them by driving around in circles. Given a choice, which one would YOU prefer?

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Sea Foam Candy Failure

This video is a perennial favorite, mainly because I have been trying to make Sea Foam Candy for approximately fifty years and have NEVER had it turn out. No matter how closely I follow the recipe, when I make it, it tastes carbonized and scorched, or else so gummy and sad that your first impulse is to spit it out.

It was brave and good-hearted of this woman to post this disaster, which is quite dramatic after all, and could have been even worse if she had spilled any of this molten lava on herself. Liquefied sugar has the power to dissolve human flesh. There are sixty million YouTube videos showing you how to make this "simple" candy (and it IS simple, if you only look at the ingredients). It's one of those things that is all method, in that the syrup must be cooked to exactly the right temperature before adding the baking soda. The woman even uses a candy thermometer here, so the temperature is exact, but it makes no difference whatsoever.

This woman is right to call the recipe a "science experiment", for the seething sugar slurry (which inevitably calls for a tablespoon or two of vinegar) combines with a spoonful of baking soda to create something like one of those volcanoes we used to make for a middle school science project. The baking soda, a caustic substance, is dumped in all at once and stirred violently to prevent the whole thing from overflowing the pot onto the counter. Molten sugar is a particularly evil substance, cooking down ever more thickly and darkly, until the sudden violent injection of thousands of tiny gas bubbles triggers a fulminating monsoon. 

But the worst aspect of this evil stuff isn't the method, or even the success or failure of the result. Even the best sea foam candy (or sponge toffee or honeycomb or yellow man - yes, it really is called that in Ireland for some reason) leaves you with a nasty surprise. Once you have chewed your way down through all the sticky sweetness, you're left with a bitter, metallic, even caustic taste in your mouth, as if you've taken fireplace ashes and mixed them with Comet cleanser. It's the baking soda, and if you keep on chewing you're left with a hard little nub of it. How delightful. Let me wash out my mouth now.

I had a wonderful Nigella Lawson video on this, and now I can't find it. She said this was a "Cornish" recipe (baloney!), and that the original name was "hokey-pokey". Myself, I thought that was a dumb dance you did at wedding receptions, but never mind. Nigella was remarkably smug as she cooked up the "gol-den cah-ra-mell" on the stove, then snuck naughty little bites of it while in the back of the limousine on her way to the dinner party. I just couldn't relate. Just how does she deal with that nasty little nub, the Revenge of the Science Project, as "hokey-pokey" inevitably turns back into the caustic chemicals from which it was created?

Monday, August 12, 2019

Trapped in amber: a very weird dream

(From my journal, August 10/19)

I had the weirdest dream about Sternthal (ed. note: a doctor I went to for years, who used to dismiss, demean and bully me). I don’t usually remember dreams, but this one was so strange. I was fiddling around with an amber necklace with huge stones in it, golf-ball-sized, and very ornate. I was taking it apart for the purposes of re-stringing it in different designs, and huge rocklike beads were suddenly loose in a sort of rock pile, along with a lot of smaller ones. But then I found myself standing in some sort of mysterious lineup of people. 

When I got to the front, I could see that Sternthal was sitting there by himself on an elevated chair, not saying anything. I didn’t know what the other people were doing there, but when it got to be my turn I presented him with an exact duplicate of the original necklace, only it was much smaller for some reason. He took it and I don’t think said anything, but just stared at me with big creepy unblinking eyes. Didn’t say thank you or acknowledge me or the gift, as if it went without saying, it was only his due, and it was about time I delivered on it. Even that I should be grateful for the rare and (of course) undeserved chance of being able to do this. Then I moved on, and that was the end of it.

I DO have a lot of amber jewelry, because years ago I went through an amber phase (amber was wildly popular then), and I DO often dismember jewelry, particularly necklaces, to make doll jewelry. It hasn’t been worn in years and years and is just sitting there. But the Sternthal thing is weird. Lining up seems like people paying some sort of weird homage, or presenting him with something, but I couldn’t tell. Except for staring at me with huge dark creepy unblinking eyes out of The Fly, he didn’t even acknowledge me or what I gave him. 

He was obviously the most important person in the room, and all the others were just whack jobs or nut bars or whatever-it-is you call chronic mental patients nowadays. They're just people who go around shooting up shopping malls and schools for no reason. (Their huge gun collections have nothing to do with it.) They were paying obeisance, because that was what they were supposed to do – in fact, it went without saying, you just “did that”. It was not a choice on anyone’s part, but neither was it something they did not want. They simply had no will, and “did that” because they “did that”. They had been erased.

I couldn’t see the others really, never saw any faces but just identical bodies, though I was aware they were there and moving. I thought of futuristic movies like 1984 and Metropolis, but that comparison may have come after I woke up. People trudging mindlessly forward in a line. He looked like a cult leader that you had to go up to and pay homage to, and in fact you were supposed to think (if you thought at all) that you were very fortunate to be able to do so. It was a bit like coming up to the front at a fundamentalist church to be "saved". I also thought of Scientology for some reason. Strange. 

I just had the thought that it’s interesting I gave him jewelry, which seems personal because in the past I had worn it many times, but I gave him a DUPLICATE of the original necklace which was much smaller and would be worth less. Big amber beads were “a thing” then, ugly as they seem now. So while I gave him the necklace, I still had it, and a more valuable version of it to boot. 

If you want to dig deeper, well, the amber necklace (which looked like something out of The Flintstones, though some of the beads were much smaller) has connotations of being “trapped in amber” and thus frozen in time. The faceless people lining up with no will is pretty obvious, and extremely creepy. But I did not have totally negative feelings, and felt sort of – what? Again, the feeling I should feel privileged to be able to be in this lineup and present him with gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Giving him a duplicate without the larger stones was weird. I used to prize amber jewelry, but have lost interest in it and never wear it, or any other jewelry, especially not rings since my hands became such a ruin. But it used to interest me a lot, and I spent a small fortune on it. It was worth something to me. (Was I handing him a version of myself that I no longer wanted or needed? Now there's a thought.)

What it means isn't exactly clear, but it seems loaded with symbolism. Though I no longer see that destructive doctor, I felt trapped in the relationship for over twelve years, and in fact was told by multiple sources that he was the best in the business, I was extremely lucky to be able to see him, he had a waiting list a mile long, and there was no other option for me anyway because of the nature of my illness. I should be grateful to have all that understanding from someone so competent. I can't erase my history, which I long to erase so very often, but just try to go forward without an amber noose around my neck.

Monday Morning Insight. I just remembered something so appropriate, it's almost funny. My subconscious having me on? My relatively-new family doctor, who is the only doctor I have ever had with whom I feel listened to, is named Amber. Amber Jarvie. It's just too strange to NOT be true.

Friday, August 9, 2019

God gifs

These are fun. Some of them even have a certain aesthetic appeal, a strange beauty peculiar to the artistic form of the gif. I am sure God has a sense of humor, or he wouldn't have got so mixed up with conditions on earth (??). Or is it this way? A friend of mine insists God has a flat forehead from (strike forehead dramatically with palm of hand). Has he washed his hands of us, after all?

Monday, August 5, 2019

Beam me up!

The camera weighs only six pounds!

He's taping that thrilling number, "Serenade in Peep Major" with the new portable, battery-operated Sony Videocorder.

It records both picture and sound. (The camera weighs only 6 pounds. The recorder pack just 12.) Needs only you to operate it. And costs only $1250.* Yet it can do just about everything one of those gargantuan mobile video units can do. Maybe even more.

It doesn't have yards of power cable to tie it down. (One thin cable connects the Camera and Recorder. That's all.) So it can go up in a plane and tape aerial views of potential factory sites. Tag along on an archaeological expedition. Or on a trip to the zoo with a bunch of first graders. Or it can even wiggle into tight places and crawl beneath machinery to record damage. (So only one person has to get his clothes dirty.)

Anyone can operate this Sony Videocorder. All its level controls are fully automatic. And there's a TV monitor right inside the camera. So it's almost impossible to botch things up. (If you manage to do it anyway, no sweat. The tape is reusable.)

The nicest thing about the Videocorder: when you come back with everything behind you, it instantly lets you have it all in front of you.


Friday, August 2, 2019

David, I miss you so!

David, my closest friend, to whom I had to say goodbye many months ago. I do not closely know anyone who knew him, and it looks as if there will be no memorial service, which baffles and wounds me. It seems unfair that such a rich life should go uncelebrated and unmarked, and it has made my grief infinitely harder to deal with. It ambushes me at certain vulnerable times, like right now when my husband has been hospitalized and the outlook is uncertain. And I don't want to let him go, for it means the end of a huge chapter of my life. Maybe a whole book. The story is too large to tell right now, thirty years' worth of memories, and I don't know where to begin. I found this bit of him on his Facebook page, in which he sings in his inimitable fashion, and some pictures from my album.