Thursday, November 30, 2017

Grow up, boys

It's gotten to where the first half hour of the news shows in the morning is exclusively dedicated to the latest sex scandals.

To his everlasting shame, Sen. Al Franken - a man I regarded until now as estimable - joined the Pantheon Of Shame. No, it doesn't seem like he had improper relations with anyone, but it does seem that he got all hands-y with people other than the woman who has been his wife for many years.

And the other names are legion! Conyers, Barton, Toback, Weinstein, Halperin, Spacey, Oreskes, Piven, Hoffman, Ratner, Westwick, Seagal, C.K., Tambor, Thrush, Rose, Moore, G.H.W. Bush, for crying out loud...these are not the names of men of whom we can be proud.  And sure, there may be among them men who are simon-pure, guilty of nothing, smeared unfairly. For sure, not every man on the list is guilty and not every man walking around the mall or the golf course is up to, or down for, no good.

But you will notice that the list of sex harassers and deviates and molesters contains the name of no woman.  I think it's time for men to grow up.

Take the senior Bush, president 41. Women are now coming forward to say that he found amusement in asking them if they knew who his favorite magician is, and then he would gleefully chortle "David Cop-a-feel!" as he grabbed onto their buttocks with the same right hand that once he used to pilot an Avenger as the youngest jet pilot in the WWII Navy.

Chalk it up to his age, or being a little dotty, but his actions are emblematic of long-ago attitudes that once were pervasive and, if not accepted, at least allowed to pass without comment.

No more. 

It's time for men to grow up. If you're married, you're not supposed to run your hands on women to whom you are not married.  

Image result for steven seagal
I mean, really, Steven.
And just to be clear, single men: you should keep your hands to yourself as well, unless it's clearly communicated that your explorations are welcomed.

And no one of any gender or persuasion has the right to belittle or demean or pressure anyone else, so just knock it off.

It's not 1945 anymore, and women are damn well sick and tired of men acting like perpetual high school sophomores.

Men in need of guidance, or having questions about how to act in any situation, should remember to follow the lead of the one group that seems to know how to behave.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

On trial in Food Court

For every notion that someone comes up with, someone says, "Hey! Let's do a scientific study on that thang!" And even though most people know from empiric experience that putting hot sauce on food makes it spicy and that people who have a choice between ice cream and stewed prunes for dessert are more likely to hit the Breyer's, they have to draaaaaaaaag it out over a six-month period of testing, evaluating, reporting, and appearing on "Dr Ooze."

So here is the latest thought that got the million-dollar treatment: You are more apt to get along with the members of your family after a walk in nature than you are after a trip with them to the mall.

Well, duh.

Image result for mall food court crowded
The study that proves this theorem concludes that "a quick walk in nature is a better way to tune out distractions and feel all warm and fuzzy about each other."

And get this - they have names for why it works.  When you get out and stroll among the tall tall trees and the pachysandra beneath, it relaxes the noggin and helps you reset your perspectives much better than, say, a trip to Best Buy, which is a store I won't even enter anymore because it is a pure assault on every sense except smell.

But the learned scientists want us to know that strutting through the park and seeing trees and little creatures and smelling God's fresh air is better than walking into Best Bye to buy a printer cartridge and seeing some 9-year-old launch a crime spree on "Grand Theft Auto" on the big screen with stadium-size subwoofers blasting in your ear. 

As they say in the Navy, "No ship, Sherlock!"

And as they say at the Department of Child and Adolescent Development at San Jose State University, that nature walk is part of "attention restoration."

Dina Izenstark is an assistant professor out there, and she says, "We know that nature has a powerful effect on individuals because it helps restore mental fatigue. We believe those individual benefits can translate to family interactions in that when family members are less mentally fatigued, they have the potential to get along better with one another."

So what she says is, when you aren't all tired and irritable, you are much less likely to be cranky.  Hold the presses! We got a bulletin here from San Diego!

They actually found some moms of kids between 10 and 12 and had them go to a mall for a while and them come back and solve math problems. ("If a mother takes three kids to the mall at 3 and one of them wants a Cherry Guzzle at 3:01, how long before they head home?")

No, that was not on the sheet of problems.  And then later, after everyone figured out what the math problems, they sent them on a walk in the park, the moms' attention levels increased! They had decreased after going to the mall, probably after shelling out all that money for Cherry Guzzles and Auntie Annie's yeasty pretzels.

The kids were sharper either way, the study found, so the best advice seems to be to take a kid to the woods. Or to the mall; it depends on the kid.  

Meanwhile, who knows how to get Cherry Guzzle stains out of a t-shirt? 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Twice Shy

I was just telling someone about this the other day and it turns out that today is the 75th anniversary of the Cocoanut Grove Fire in Boston, one of the deadliest fires in American history.
Newspaper story tells the story of the tragic fire
The Cocoanut Grove was a nightclub, but in censorious Boston, they liked to tell themselves they did not have nightclubs in their city, so it was technically a restaurant/supper club that November night in 1942 on Piedmont Street. It had been quite the hopping place during the Prohibition era, when it sold absolutely no liquor whatsoever, no siree, and after a slump in business during the Depression era, it was swinging again in the early 40s, packed every night.

A Cocoanut Grove matchbook, outside and inside cover.The Grove had a basement bar, along with the kitchen and food storage area, and the main floor had a large dining room and several bars under a retractable roof that allowed for dancing beneath the stars in warm weather. It was the place to be in Beantown, all right.

The Boston College football team played Holy Cross that Saturday afternoon, 11/28/42 at Fenway Park, and everything was set for them to defeat HC and get a Sugar Bowl invitation for New Year's Day.  All they had to do was win the game, and they were heavily favored. They even had booked the Grove for a victory party that night. But the game didn't go as planned (sound familiar, Alabama fans?) and BC lost, 55-12. They cancelled their nightclub reservations. As it turned out, Boston College wound up losing to Alabama in the less-prestigious Orange Bowl that January 1.

A big Hollywood cowboy movie star named Buck Jones was touring the nation in support of War Bonds that day. He did not feel so well, and tried to beg off when invited to dinner at the Cocoanut Grove, but was persuaded to go.

The popular account of what happened that night is that a patron, snuggling up with his date in a corner of the basement bar, had unscrewed an overhead light bulb to make the area darker. A busboy was sent over to investigate the darkness and lit a match to see which bulb was out. The match lit a fake palm tree on fire and the highly-flammable decorations all over the bar went up like, well, like paper decorations.

As the fire spread, the crowd tried to exit through THE ONLY means of egress, a four-foot-wide staircase to the street level. Meanwhile, the superheated fireball raced up the stairs with them, and dozens were trampled and/or burned to death as hundreds tried to escape through the revolving door exit, which predictably jammed as death overtook the nightclub.

The final death toll was 492 souls lost, with another 166 injured. Buck Jones was burned and was one of hundreds taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he died two days later. The owner of the Grove, Barney Welansky, had suffered a heart attack two days before the fire and was, in fact, a patient upstairs at MGH as all those others were brought to the hospital.

We often tell the story of the dashed hopes and plans of the BC Football team, and then we like to tell ourselves that the Cocoanut Grove fire changed the course of the way we build, regulate and maintain mass-occupancy structures. There were changes in building codes, and changes in emergency medical care for burn victims, as direct results of the Cocoanut Grove fire. 

We thought we had learned the lessons the first time.

And then came 2003, and the band Great White was performing, also in New England, at the Station Nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island.  For whatever dunderheaded reason, the group's manager thought it would be a good idea to SET OFF FIREWORKS INSIDE A BUILDING, which set the foam ceiling insulation ablaze in a fire that claimed the lives of 100 persons and injured approximately 200 others. 

Many of the same factors and errors that occurred at the Cocoanut Grove played into the Station fire 61 years ago.

You might remember the band Great White. Their big hit was called "Once Bitten, Twice Shy."

Monday, November 27, 2017

Anna and the King of Siamogale

The president of the United States just got back from a whirlwind trip to Asia. I don't know if he traveled to the swampy, watery area of southwest China, where, a short six million years ago, an otter (now sadly extinct) strutted around. These dudes weighed 110 pounds.

What happened was, they found a skull and mandible (jawbone) and they have been able to figure out just how very menacing a predator a 110-lb otter would be. You have to say the male of the species was probably just a tad scarier than Steve Buscemi. The female is thought to have had an RBF similar to Kendall Jenner.

The full name of this awesome hairy creature, the size of a wolf was Siamogale melilutra, and the remarkable thing was that fearsome jaw, which, with its ability to eat giant clams by crunching right through the giant clamshell.  

And SiMel was not known to be picky about condiments, either.  Not one jar of cocktail sauce was found near the remains, meaning that they must have gobbled their clams with no sauce at all!

"The abundance of aquatic and near-water environments in that region may have allowed aquatic carnivorans such as Siamogale to become the dominant predators of their ecological communities," is how Scientific Reports reported it.

After the scientists did a complete analysis of the otter jaws they found around the remains, they found out Si's super jaw, and compared him to Aonyx, which was a smaller sort of otter who tipped the scales at between 20 to 50 lbs. but was also known to crush crabs through the shell with his teeth alone.  So even those of us who were asked to sit in the back in Zoology 101 can figure that an otter weighing over twice that much was able to rule many a swamp.   

"Our findings suggest that Siamogale does not have a living analog (that's science talk for "Ain't nobody like you nowhere no how!"), but exhibits limited similarity to the living oral-crusher Aonyx in having significantly stiffer than expected mandibles among otters," the authors say in the science journal.

I am now in the market for one of these critters, so that the next time that guy comes knocking on my door with a "truckload of steaks from a cancelled restaurant order" that he is "willing to let go cheap, just to get rid of them," I can just have the door answered by Otis, my 110-pound otter. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sunday Rerun: I wouldn't be without one

People are always surprised when I pull it out of my pants, reacting with shock, and shaken heads.

I'm talking about my bandana, whichever one I happen to be carrying in my pocket that day.  It might be red, blue, brown, grey or green, because I have them in a veritable rainbow of colors, but I always have one.  Count on it.

Only when I can't find a free Kleenex will I use a bandana for wiping Mr Drippynose. There are hundreds of other reasons to tote a piece of cloth 18" x 18" everywhere, a cloth which takes its name from the Hindi word bandhnu, which refers to the method of dyeing cloth using “binds."

I don't know the first thing about Hindi words, or about dyeing cloth, but I know what to do if I need a tourniquet or a sling in a hurry. People used to rob banks using a bandana to cover their faces, but so many of them tripped while making a getaway that they started just covering the lower half of their faces. Cowboys used them like a scarf around the neck for protection from the sun and the dust out there on cattle drives.  They make great helmet liners for motorcyclists, and, of course, gangs use them to identify and represent Bloods (red) and Crips (blue). 

People use bandanas for as cords to tie things up, as water filters, trail markers and shelter flags.

You can wrap up your personal items or your lunch in a bandana, and tie it on the end of a stick. That's called a bindlestick, and they were traditionally carried by hobos. (When is the last time you heard someone called a hobo? Today they are "people on a journey to find themselves.")

Hobo with bindlestick
People have been known to use their bandana as a potholder, earmuffs, sweatband, or belt. How about a firestarter? Facial towel? Seat cover? Signalling device? Doggie decoration?

Charmin replacement?

There are more uses for a bandana than there are stones on the beach. And if you want to collect some of those stones to bring home for the aquarium, I think you know what to carry them in!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Saturday Picture Show, November 25, 2017

Confidentiality is no longer "assured." 

 "Minus four" now will have another meaning forever.
Can you imagine a time in our lives when there was but one flavor of Oreo? How e'er did we survive?
This thick rope, or hawser, heavy enough to moor a boat is also willing to serve as artistic material. 
When I worked on Saturdays, I could always count on seeing a sofa cushion or a dresser drawer alongside the main road on my way home.  But I never saw this before - clearly it's someone moving who does not wish to do so.
Somehow I see the words "Art student summer project" all over this.
"Honey...honey...did you find it yet...?"
If you've lived in Baltimore for a while, you likely heard radio shows that came from this very control room at the old WFBR studios on E. 20th St. To see the rathole that it's become is saddening, but AM radio is on life support. It's over.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Name it

I don't know where it comes from, but I have a fascination with people and their names.  Their real names, their fake names, their aliases all strike me as interesting.

And I often try to imagine the conversation between two new parents, people with a last name such as McCracken, as they decide to name their little boy "Phillip."

And thanks to my parents, by the way, for christening me with a ready-made radio name.  Somehow, they just knew....

But, you know the singer Vic Damone? He's great, or he was. He is retired now but you still hear his songs; he was a singer of standards, pop songs of the 40s and 50s.  Now, his real name at birth was Vito Farinola! And I submit that that name sounds more like a song than the name he chose! In fact, I can just hear him singing it..."Veeeee-tooooo FarrrrriNOOOOOOOOOOLA!"

The great English actor (all English actors are great to us!) Benedict Cumberbatch was truly born for the stage and screen, even though Americans have an aversion to the name Benedict since the Revolutionary War.

How about that guy Skeet Ulrich, the actor they always hire when Johnny Depp is too busy? He was born Bryan Ray Trout. Nice tradeup. 

Jean-Claude Van Damme, who liked to be called "The Muscles From Brussels," was called Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg at birth in Belgium, where the birth certificates must have lots of space for such things.

Back in America, the guy who played Inigo Montoya in "The Princess Bride," shares with our female cat "Eddie" the problems of having a cross-gendered nickname. Mandy Patinkin was born Mandel Patinkin.

And there is every likelihood that Texas Battle, the actor who played Marcus Forrester on The Bold And The Beautiful, has been called "Tex" a million times deep in the heart of...

One last nickname that really tears me up...Rip Torn, a great American actor, was born Elmore Rual Torn, Jr. "Rip Torn" inspired a lot of imitators, such as "Rex Carr" the NASCAR driver and "Dr Lance Boyle," my dermatologist. (Not really.)

What brought all this to mind was the happy confluence on my iPod the other night as I paraded around the neighborhood of two tunes. Totally at random, the tiny soundbox played Chubby Wise sawing his fiddle through "Down Yonder" right after Chubby Checker put a hop in my step with "Pony Time."

Chubby Checker, who put us all in a "Twist," was known as Ernest Evans, Jr, where he was raised in South Philadelphia. After a few hit dance songs, he now spends his time insisting that "invented dancing apart," which is not quite accurate.  I love "Pony Time" because there's something about being told what to do by the singer when you dance ("Now ya turn to the left when I say gee,
You turn to the right when I say haw, Now gee, ya ya baby, Now haw...")

Robert Russell "Chubby" Wise was one of the best fiddlers that country music ever knew. He played in Hank Snow's band "The Rainbow Ranch Boys," and, as is customary in that genre, when it was his turn to play in the spotlight, Hank (born Clarence Snow) would holler "Chubby!" and away he'd go.
Image result for hanks snow chubby wise
That's Chubby on the far left and Hank in red.
Trust me, if you're on trial and your attorney asks his associate to step up and handle the interrogation on a tricky part of your care, you don't want to hear him call "Chubby" to the bench.

And yes, it's fine to be called "Cookie" if you're a ballplayer, but you don't want that to be the name of your cardiologist...

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Come on home, hon!

Over three days next October (3-5), local Baltimore boosters are going to throw a Baltimore Homecoming to bring home some people who are famous around the country and around the world.

It's felt that having some people who were born or raised here and then have gone to great acclaim will give the city's tarnished image a nice sparkle.

So, they trot out the familiar names:  Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, Congressman Elijah Cummings(D, MD), actor Josh Charles, and actress Julie Bowen.

Problem is, "These folks aren’t always connected to the city," according to Nate Lowentheil, who works with Baltimore Homecoming. "They don’t always know what’s happening in Baltimore."

Well. Elijah Cummings certainly does. He lives here and represents part of the city quite well in Congress. Kevin Plank came up with the idea for athletic wear while attending the U of Maryland and now owns half the city and most of the county as a result. But Julie Bowen and Bess Armstrong, a couple of actresses who come from the same high-class suburb of Baltimore, left here a long time ago for fame and fortune, and let's just say they might not recognize Kenilworth Mall as it looks today.

Image result for frank zappa
Mr Zappa 
"The idea of the homecoming is to engage this alumni network of accomplished Baltimore natives from around the country, and get them to meet all the amazing young leaders in Baltimore. The artists, the entrepreneurs, the activists, the community leaders. And to find ways to reconnect to the life of our city," Lowentheil says. 

And, as Congressman Cummings says, "Baltimore has so many great young leaders in business, politics, and the arts."

Quite true. 

I think this is a great idea.  It comes as a surprise to a lot of people that musicians from Tori Amos to Frank Zappa were raised here, that actors such as John "Gomez Addams" Astin, Hans Conreid, Divine, Charles S. "Roc" Dutton, David Hasselhoff, John Kassir (who gets extra points for being from my neighborhood!), Edward Norton and Dwight Schultz, who gets extra credit for going to the same high school as John Waters are Baltimore to the core.

Image result for john astin gomez
Mr Astin
Actresses with Baltimore roots include Anna Faris, Mo'Nique (who gets extra points for being a fellow alumnus of the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland - as does Robin Quivers!), Nicole Ari Parker,  and Jada Pinkett Smith.

Musicians? How about Gina Schock, Greg Kihn, Cab Calloway, Ronnie Dove, Mama Cass Elliott, Billie Holiday, and Dru Hill?

Image result for gina schock
Ms Schock
And any list of famous locals has to include the host of radio's "This American Life," Ira Glass, U.S. Representative from California since 1987, Minority Leader and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and cranky newsman H. L. Mencken and offbeat poet Ogden Nash.

So bring on the Baltimore Love! 410 represent!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Mourning becomes eclectic

Quite a weekend for the old Grim Reaper, who came to take Malcolm Young from AC/DC, Country Music Hall-of-Famer Mel Tillis, and Bobby Baker, the Washington DC insider who became a millionaire on a salary of $20,000.  

Image result for bobby baker carousel hotelBaker, who was a protégé of Senator Lyndon Johnson, came to be known as "Little Lyndon" after rising from the position of Senate page to being elected secretary of the Senate majority in the 1950s. Toward the end of that decade he came up with enough money to buy some land "way up the road" from what was then the built-up part of Ocean City, Maryland. He built the Carousel Hotel on that land, and people used to get in their cars just to drive out and see what he put up in what was then the middle of nowhere and is now such a congested area that the Carousel is dwarfed by taller condominium buildings and stores selling t-shirts, towels and suntan products.

Anyway, Baker died at 86, Malcolm Young was 64 and Mel Tillis, who learned to turn his speech impediment into a comic prop, was 85 when he passed. 

But what was weird about the weekend was that besides these actual passings, people were reporting that Charles Manson had died (he eventually did, to no one's sorrow) and that the same fate had befallen one-time teen idol David Cassidy, who is still with us as of this writing.

Not everyone realizes that there are people on reputable newspaper and broadcast journalism staffs, and also FOX news, whose work consists of preparing and keeping updated obituaries of the famous and infamous.  That's why, when someone famous is called home suddenly, there is a ready-to-go look back at their life on the news that night. 

So when the admirable Mr Cassidy and the damnable Mr Manson took sick late last week, the news got their stories ready, and I suppose someone hit the "send" button a bit early.

If you have nothing better to do when someone you've heard of makes the news for shuffling off this earthly coil, quickly look them up on Wikipedia. You can bet that someone beat feet to that online World Book and changed the opening line from "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt is an American (whatever)" to "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt WAS an American (whatever)" within three minutes of the news breaking.

I'm sure the first thing we learn when we Cross That Bridge is that there is no use hurrying, and there never was.  

Happy Tuesday! Stay well.

Monday, November 20, 2017

An interesting life

Her friends had to talk her into getting a couple of window air conditioners when she was well into her 80s, and this was in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where it gets a bit toasty in summertime.

She did not subscribe to a newspaper or own a car. She got the news via broadcast channels on a black-and-white TV, and caught a ride to church with friends. When she needed groceries, she walked a mile to the store, pushing her little cart along.

The woman we are talking about was named Oseola McCarty, and she left school in sixth grade to care for an ailing aunt, never to return to the classroom. She began a life's work as a washerwoman, and did that until she retired at age 86, describing her day thus:

“I would go outside and start a fire under my wash pot. Then I would soak, wash, and boil a bundle of clothes. Then I would rub ’em, wrench ’em, rub ’em again, starch ’em, and hang ’em on the line. After I had all of the clean clothes on the line, I would start on the next batch. I’d wash all day, and in the evenin’ I’d iron until 11:00. I loved the work. The bright fire. Wrenching the wet, clean cloth. White shirts shinin’ on the line.”
A friend of hers said, "Work became the great good of her life. She found beauty in its movement and pride in its provisions. She was happy to have it and gave herself over to it with abandon."

(Quick question - how many people could say that of themselves?)

Also unlike most people, Ms McCarty began to save her money at a young age.  Specifically, at eight years of age, she began keeping money in a doll buggy, and then she took that buggy and all her money to a local bank when still a small girl and added to her account whenever she had enough to put away.

"I commenced to save money. I never would take any of it out. I just put it in. . . . It’s not the ones that make the big money, but the ones who know how to save who get ahead. You got to leave it alone long enough for it to increase," is how she put it.

The common notion is that one can't make a fortune scrubbing and ironing clothes from sunup to sundown, but that's not true. A wise person saves more than he/she spends, and looks for ways to get the most out of their money, and lives simply.

From that money she earned as a washerwoman, Ms McCarty retired at age 87, and only then because the arthritis in her hands made working impossible.  She retired with a savings account that held $280,000.

That's over a quarter of a million dollars, earned and saved over almost 80 years of work.  

Oseola McCarty (right) with the first
McCarty Scholarship recipient,
Stephanie Bullock
And then, setting aside enough to live out her years, she gave $150,000 to the University of Southern Mississippi, a college just a couple of blocks from her home, although she had never visited it. She just wanted her hard work to be of benefit to others seeking to better themselves.

Over 600 people heard about this donation and added to it, tripling her original endowment, and allowing USM to award several full scholarships every year to deserving students through the McCarty Scholarship program.

When a journalist asked Ms McCarty why she chose this path, rather than spending the money on herself, she replied that by doing what she did to set up scholarships, she WAS spending the money on herself, that she was proud to be leaving some good to the world, and that her only regret was that she didn't have more to give.

Another quote from Oseola McCarty that I think a good many people will get a lot of good from is this:

"Some people make a lot of noise about what’s wrong with the world, and they are usually blamin’ somebody else. I think people who don’t like the way things are need to look at themselves first."
Oseola McCarty died at 91, her life's work done, her legacy complete. But who know what greatness will come from the  recipients of her largesse? 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Rerun: Law and Order SUV

One of the many joys of not working is not having to be out in traffic with the throngs of people going to work. Not that I don't like people; I happen to love almost all of them, but traffic is not fun.  When I did work I always was lucky enough to avoid the 9-5 shift, and I preferred working earlier, going home earlier, and missing the frantic zoom-zoom of cars and trucks.

And THAT was just in our driveway, I wanna tell ya......

But here's the thing. 

There are still kids riding school buses, and they happen to be on the road to Sunnyvale Elementary, Mark Twain Middle, and Southwestern Regional Tech High at about the same time that commuters are racing to get to work on time for the first time all week.  And the school bus stops approximately every ten feet along the roads, because heaven forfend that little Abner or Hortense should walk to the corner!

So...when the bus stops, so should all drivers! If you need a little brushing up on the rules as concern kids and buses and you in your mighty SUV, here is a link to information from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration.  

Failure to heed these rules could cost at the least a fine of $570 and three points on your driver's license; at the most, it could cost you and the family of a dead or maimed child a lifetime of pain and regret.

So it's really not that important to get to work, if the price is that high, right?

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Saturday Picture Show, November 18, 2017

As a wise person once said, it doesn't cost a thing to be nice. Paying compliments just feels good!
Just outside Baltimore Harbor is the now-abandoned Fort Carroll, which was built before the Civil War and never really saw use in the defense of Baltimore, but now it's a habitat for all sorts of wildlife, and if you search "Fort Carroll" on YouTube, you can see all sorts of drone footage of a fascinating place. 
Years ago, Baltimore was very fond of formstone, a form of stucco that was used to cover up the fronts of brick rowhouses. Imagine having to look at brick, when you could get fake stones that look about as much like quarry stones as a bowl of Trix looks like a bowl of gems. Now, people are moving back into those areas where this practice used to take place, and finding some pretty cool stuff underneath as they remove the formstone.
This is the fun kind of photo - it's called forced perspective, and you've seen it when your friends send you pictures from Pisa, Italy that make it appear that they are holding up a certain leaning tower.
I don't even know if this is for the real or a clever fake. Either way, it's an interesting illusion.
If you have a metal cabinet somewhere near where you want your keys to hang around, you need this!
Yes, it's a real patch from a real fire department in Turtle, Wisconsin.
Before America settled on Prohibition to rid itself of the alcohol problem, the "dry" forces (those who supported banning alcohol drinks) used advertisements like this to make their point. Don't have a beer, or your child will get rickets. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

The real scoop

They make so much money up in Vermont, these Ben & Jerry Ice Cream people, that they maintain on their property a fake graveyard where they "bury" the ice cream flavors they have tried and seen fail.

Does any ice cream really sound bad to you? Everybody loves it and everybody basically loves vanilla, and then you add some whatevers, and it's all good.  I really like that Haagen-Dazs Vanilla with Brownie Chunks, in case you're starting your Christmas shopping early.

And who remembers that song "Porcupine Pie" by Neil Diamond? It was a nonsense song about food mixtures like vanilla soup, tutti fruit with fruity blue cheese, and chicken ripple ice cream.

And that might be as good as when Burger King came up with Bacon Ice Cream a couple years ago, and the local ice creameries here in Baltimore that are always coming up with Old Bay Ice Cream.  You never know what people are going to like.

But now you can know what they DON'T like in a cup or cone. These are the Ben & Jerry failures...

Image result for schweddy balls ice cream1. Schweddy Balls (2011-2011) This was based on the SNL bit featuring Alec Baldwin in the days pre-DT. This was vanilla ice cream with a bit of rum, plus fudge-covered rum and malt balls.

2. Wavy Gravy (1991-2001) This caramel and cashew and Brazil nut flavor and roasted almonds and chocolate hazelnut fudge swirl treat was named for Hugh Romney, the hippie's hippie from Woodstock. 

3. Turtle Soup (2006-2010) tasted like those gooey turtle candies: vanilla fudge covered ice cream with fudge-covered caramels, cashews, and a caramel swirl.

4. Fossil Fuel (2005-2010) had chocolate cookie pieces and fudge dinosaurs, with a fudge swirl. 

5. Miz Jelena's Sweet Potato Pie (1992-1993) Easy to see whythis one only lasted one year. It was ginger ice cream with a fudge swirl. Notice: no sweet potato. I think I spotted the problem.  

6. White Russian (1986-1996) They say it's still available in their scoop shops. It was a collusion of coffee ice cream and Kahlua. 

7. Tuskegee Chunk (1989-1990) was peanut butter ice cream with chocolate chunks. This violated my law of peanut butter, which is that peanut butter must be Skippy and must not come on contact with chocolate for any reason. Sorry, Reese's.

8. Oh Pear (1997-1997) Maybe the French woman you hired to take care of your kids would have like pear ice cream with some almond and a light fudge swirl.

9. Dastardly Mash (1979-1991) Chocolate ice cream with pecans, almonds, chocolate chips, and raisins sounds like a Chunky candy bar. It didn't last as long as the M*A*S*H TV show, though. 

10. Economic Crunch (1987-1987) crashed the world's ice cream shelves soon after the 1987 stock-market crash. It was vanilla with chocolate covered almonds, pecans, and walnuts.

Make mine vanilla, please! Two scoops.