Monday, December 21, 2009

life in beta

orson welles's short but sweet encounter with article by frank beacham, who worked with welles shortly before his death in 1985, pioneering the use of betacam recorders...

it's nice to be left with the idea of what orson welles would have done with film technology since then.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


the hyundai elantra was not meant to bear through an almost-foot of snow, especially on an incline. there was no street parking when i came home friday night, so i unsuspectingly parked in the church parking lot across the street. bad choice. faced with inclines at either end of the alley that connects to the lot, my poor car is just going to have to wait it out. and so am i.

so in honor of virginia's early snowfall and in the tradition of being a bit stuck...a word on cabin fever.

according to the online etymological dictionary, the term cabin fever was first recorded in 1918.
there's a medical journal article entitled cabin fever: a folk belief and the misdiagnosis of complaints (preview found here). basically, researcher russ christensen uses police data on domestic violence and suicides in anchorage, ak to compare folk beliefs on cabin fever with empirical data. according to the report, domestic violence and mental disturbances are common symptoms (or consequences) of cabin fever, but there doesn't seem to be any correlation between seasons and frequency of violence or suicide. unfortunately, you have to pay to read the full report.

jack london tells of a most extreme version of cabin fever in his short story "in a far country," which can be read in its entirety here. it's the story of two men who opt to wait out the alaskan winter in a cabin together, rather than push on the difficult trek to dawson with the rest of their gold-seeking party. the two quickly find themselves at odds with not only the perpetual dark, cold, slow passage of time, but with each other. as the "fear of the north," as london calls it, bears down upon them, the two men begin to deteriorate quickly, both physically and mentally.

"He dwelt upon the unseen and the unknown till the burden of eternity appeared to be crushing him. Everything in the Northland had that crushing effect--the absence of life and motion; the darkness; the infinite peace of the brooding land; the ghastly silence, which made the echo of each heartbeat a sacrilege; the solemn forest which seemed to guard an awful, inexpressible something, which neither word nor thought could compass."


fortunately, a cup of tea, netflix watch instantly, and a stash of christmas cookies should keep myself and most others trapped sane until the thaw.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

men don't make passes at girls who wear glasses

that is the mantra of marilyn monroe's character pola in 1953's how to marry a millionaire (also starring lauren bacall and betty grable), in which three models rent a posh uptown ny apartment to lure rich men into marrying them.

beautiful ladies and costumes, it almost lives up to being "the most glamorous entertainment" of my lifetime for sure. and schatze's (yes, that's bacall's character's name and the name of my next teacup pomadoodle puppy coincidentally) advice could hold some weight with single girls today...

"look, the first rule of this proposition is that gentlemen callers have got to wear a necktie. i don't want to be snobbish about it, but if we begin with characters like that, we might as well just throw in the towel."

it might not always be country club standards, but we all have those dealbreaking criteria on which we make first judgements. must have front teeth. must not drive a minivan. must wear a necktie. whatever.

she goes a step too far when she rules out guys at the meat counter over guys shopping for mink stoles. being one in favor of animal rights, i guess i'd take the lesser of those two evils?

of course, this critique of poor schatze, loca, and pola assumes the suspension of one's disbelief in favor of a ridiculous movie premise in the first place. or so i thought...but apparently there is still a market today for self-help guides that entreat women to tips on how to get their own sugardaddies. titles include:

smart girls marry money: how women have been duped into the romantic dream - and how they're paying for it (2009)
read: smart girls avoid books with ridiculously long subtitles

the gold digger's guide: how to marry the man and the money
note: written by "ivana b. rich." really.

how to get a rich man: the princess formula (2007)
formula: money + marriage = happiness. like, duh.

even forbes magazine was in on the trend with this article from 2006. click on the link from there for 10 tips on how to meet "the rich."

pola (monroe) spends her time removing her glasses around prospective suitors because "you know what they say about girls who wear glasses." so she pulls out the slapstick and runs into walls, unsurprisingly looking innocent and sexy at the same time. that is until she meets her future husband who is even blinder than she, who tells her that her glasses suit her and even accentuate her beauty. see promotional poster above: "cinemascope: you see it without glasses!"
thank goodness!

Monday, December 7, 2009


the week in review.
Old postcards. Forget putting them in plastic sleeves of binders. Chop those suckers up and use in collages, card-making, and any other paper-related craft you can think of. Cheap and usually easy to find at antique malls, there's something fascinating about something that is postmarked 1915 with a sweet little message to Cousin Elanor from Gertie in Niagra Falls. This year's Christmas cards? Vintage cards attached to blank postcards (for a personalized message) tied together with red ribbons.
I was talking to a friend about people who ask a lot of questions when the answers are irrelevant. A hypothetical conversation could go as follows:

A: So I was eating this restaurant the other day when this guy...
B: What restaurant?
A: Charlie's. Anyway, this guy came over to my table out of nowhere and...
B: Were you eating there by yourself?
A: No, I was with a few friends. So this really weird looking guy comes over to our table and asks me...
B: Who were you with?
A: Georgia and Marshall. He asks my name and insists that he knows me.
B: Who, Marshall?
A: No not Marshall, the creepy guy.
B: Is Charlie's any good? I've always wanted to go there...

You get the point. Datawhore...that's the term my friend (not Georgia, Marshall or creepy dude) gave to these kinds of people, which I thought was an awesome new phrase. New, or so I thought. Leave it to urbandictionary to crush the dreams of a future neologist. But, their definition varies in that it refers specifically to digital content, whereas we were talking about people who want all of the details, whether or not they are relevant to the story.
More neology? Head over to Word Spy, an endless source of entertainment on newly popular words and phrases.
I'm not a fan of Regis or Kelly, but this recipe for Brussel Sprouts and Butternut Squash has been a big hit twice - at Thanksgiving and at a potluck. Easy and easily vegan...just put a little more olive oil instead. I also replaced the chesnuts with toasted pecans.
Speaking of Brussel Sprouts, who knew they grew on a big funky stalk? I didn't until I saw one at Trader Joe's a couple of weeks ago.
Next year's Christmas tree...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

adventures in cable tv

i don't watch a lot of tv. a few essential shows here and there scavaged from the corners of download kingdoms online...but today at the gym, i indulged in the mid-morning fluff of nbc and discovered...

does that look appetizing?

1. hellman's mayonnaise should stick to the truth - use mayonnaise because it tastes good, not because it's good for you.

i'll admit, my opinion of mayonnaise has been set in stone for years - it is the most offensive condiment ever - and no tv ad will ever change my mind on that one.
basically the ad showed images of its "fresh" ingredients such as eggs and oil/vinegar, interspersed with happy people eating sandwiches and whatever other foods one pollutes with mayo. but what put me off more than the goopy white paste itself was that the ad was toting the healthy aspects of mayonnaise by focusing on the natural ingredients of mayo being high in omega 3s.
everyone knows mayonnaise is about as far as you can get from health food, so trying to jump on the health food bandwagon with this one seems just plain silly. just stick to what you know. mayonnaise makes food taste good (allegedly) because it's pretty darn bad for you. one tbsp. contains 90 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 5 grams of cholesterol.

medieval torture device?

2. l'oreal telescopic explosion mascara sounds and looks more painful that it actually is

first off, worst product name in a long time. as if putting a mascara brush within millimeters of your eyeball isn't scary enough, l'oreal has come out with a brush that looks like a mace. plus, i don't want anything with the words "telescopic" or "explosion" coming withing miles of my eyeballs. apparently givenchy put out the first spherical mascara wand recently, so l'oreal is the first drugstore brand to offer a widely available one. i stumbled upon clumps of mascara, a really cute beauty blog, with a review of the product from september.

3. on the rocks is how i felt after watching too much a.m. housewife television

tv is a reality-competition clustercuss. the today show featured the winner of a show called "on the rocks." it's an online series competition that seeks to find the best bartender in the country...riveting, i'm sure. anyway, in comparison to the mayonnaise and mascara, winner joe brooke was something nice to look at, all bow-tied and vested out for the holidays. his eggnog by the glass used raw egg, which then reminded me of mayonnaise again, but he redeemed himself with his winning bartender shake and by the fact that he didn't want to put spikes in my eyes (only in my drinks). he mixed up a pretty scrumptious looking concoction dubbed the "linus," as seen below.

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