Category Archives: Media

Royal Mail

Husband and I ordered some classical audio cd’s from Amazon recently. I usually like to order from Archiv, but everything there was on backorder.

Our selections were fairly eclectic, ranging from choral music by Arvo Part and Henrik Goreki, to a cd by Brooklyn Rider, a string quartet, playing with an Irish fiddler.

When you order from Amazon, you never quite know where the products are coming from. Three of the cd’s we ordered came from overseas. A London /Decca recording of Chopin nocturnes played by Vladimir Ashkenazy came from Japan. It arrived speedily, several days before even the US cd’s arrived. It is a lovely recording, but all the liner notes are in Japanese!

Two of the cd’s are coming from England. One is from Banbury, Oxfordshire. The other is from Stockport, in Cheshire. That particular cd is being shipped by Royal Mail. I have no idea what that means in terms of speed of delivery, but it sounds so impressive! I imagine it being delivered by someone in a Beefeater uniform.

Any interesting shipping or delivery stories? What music have you discovered lately? What would you like to receive via Royal Mail?

Great Ideas, Lost

Husband and I have 4×6 inch note pads lying around all over our house. Husband is an inveterate list maker. I want to have pencil and paper handy whenever a potential blog topic comes to me.

I decided to straighten up a bit last weekend, and I found a bunch of blog topics listed on the note pads that I can’t, for the life of me, remember what I was thinking when I wrote them down. Here are a few examples:

Hydrologic Engineer

Dentures

The Ludicrous Life

What Would Ian Altman Think

Naps

Wondrous Vs Wonderful Life

Boccherini at work

I think I need to put a few more details about what I am thinking instead of just writing the topic or title.

How is your memory these days? Come up with some esoteric blog topics. Looking at the above listed ideas I forgot about, what questions would you pair with them?

The Mighty Wurlitzer

Every now and then I am surprised by the new and different things I stumble upon.  I’ve lived in the Twin Cities since 1980 and while I would never presume to know all there is to know about Minneapolis/St. Paul, I like to think I’m in the know on a lot of what is here.

In August a friend/neighbor asked me to teach him how to make pesto.  Kind of a tempest in a teapot – a quick internet search will show you dozens of recipes and “how to” videos – but it wasn’t an imposition, so I went up and showed him how.  As a thank you he asked if I had ever been to the Heights Theatre and when I said “no”, he insisted that we go to one of their special shows.  Apparently every month they do a screening of a vintage movie on their big screen which is preceded by the playing of their “Mighty Wurlitzer”. 

The vintage movie on Monday night was Singin’ in the Rain.  My friend has been to the theatre many times, so bowing to his experience we sat in the front row, just off to the right.  It turns out that this is the best vantage point to watch the Wurlitzer player (and not a bad seat for the movie itself).  In addition, my friend knows everyone who works there, so I got a great tutorial about the organ from one of the engineers, including all kinds of photos of the pipes and instruments behind the scenes.  Suffice it to say I had no clue about how extensive a set-up a big Wurlitzer has.

I’ve never seen Singin in the Rain on the big screen and it was amazing. It made me a little sad to think about how thoroughly our society has taken to the small screen – phones, tv, ipads, laptops.  Even most movie theatres have cut down screen size to make room for more.  Made me think back to when I saw Star Trek: Wrath of Khan on the massive screen at the now-defunct Cooper.  The opening shot of stars and space took my breath away.  Even without the Wurlitzer experience, I may have to keep going to the Heights to enjoy films on a really big screen!

What’s the last thing you saw on a big screen?

Pride of Workmanship

Today’s post comes to us from Steve.

I knew a young woman who was an indifferent student through high school, the kind of girl who gets lectured endlessly by school counselors who knew she could do better. Her early employment history after college was more of the same. She did what people told her to do, but not much more.

At some point she began working in the office of a company that tried to match temporary workers with jobs offered by companies who didn’t want the trouble of finding, compensating and training temp workers. Like so many companies, it was badly run. Upper management was clumsy, rewarding the wrong workers and failing to produce sound policies. And yet, like many badly run companies, this one did well enough to keep making a modest profit and thus could continue functioning as a business.

Then something strange happened. As that business grew, it assigned two young women, including my friend, to head up a new branch office. While neither of them had distinguished herself in earlier assignments, this was different. Both women had been paying attention to the shortcomings of their business and had thoughts about how they might do better. The two women threw themselves into an effort to run their office in an exemplary way. They did not expect their model to lift up the whole business, and in fact it did not. They didn’t expect their excellence to be identified and rewarded, and in fact it was not. And yet they experienced the rare joy of managing the only effective office in an organization that continued to limp along with shoddy practices.

Good things happen when people take pride in their work. We all have known workers who slacked off whenever possible, but we have also encountered workers who set a high personal standard for excellence. A persistent mystery in business management is exactly how some workers demand a high level of work from themselves. Studies show that the level of compensation is not the critical factor. What seems more important is pride, pride of workmanship.

When I edited a small magazine I worked with writers and photographers who were badly compensated. My magazine paid so little for articles that we couldn’t demand outstanding work from contributors. Some contributors, acknowledging that we paid poorly, sold us articles that were slick and poorly written. And yet some contributors gave us good articles in spite of our amateurish payment programs.

My own work became an example. I realized that I was the untrained editor of a very badly run publication. All of us on the magazine’s staff were ignorant about making magazines. Most of us tried to do our jobs well, but the business was a sort of clown show because had never been trained and now were badly led. 

And yet I came to understand that, with all its obvious faults, this was my magazine. Whether it was wretched or entertaining, I was the single person ultimately responsible for the quality of each issue. I began rewriting bad articles, trying to turn sow’s ears into silk purses. Our readers never guessed how hard I had worked to salvage shoddy original copy. It didn’t matter to me whose name was on a story. What mattered was that each article should be as funny, interesting or educational as possible.  We continued to print pictures upside down, print captions riddled with misspellings and make all sorts of factual errors. But more and more, almost in spite of ourselves, we began putting out a magazine that people really liked. Our readers were on our side, hoping desperately that a magazine like ours would triumph over the amateurism, disorganization and lack of resources that continued to plague us.

Later, when I became a freelance writer/photographer, I discovered how easy it was to write articles that were marginally better than average for that field of journalism. That is, I could knock off a slick article in two hours that looked pretty good, even if it was pretentious and lacking merit. That could have encouraged me to be lazy, and yet the opposite happened. I came to value the fact it was my name on an article. I took that to be a promise that I would do the very best work I was capable of, in spite of how meager my reward might be. The longer I worked as a freelancer, the higher my standards became. It became increasingly important to put out articles I was proud of.

How did you acquire the standards you hold yourself to in your work? Have they evolved over time? Did anyone serve as a model for you of doing the job well? What gives you pride in your work?

Disaster!

Today is the anniversary of the Wall Street Crash in 1929 that started the Great Depression. My great grandmother had invested in some Texas oil company stock and lost a good bit of money. My parents would often talk about the closing of the banks. It was a huge disaster for them and really influenced the trajectory of their lives.

I have never been a great fan of disaster movies. I just don’t like the suspense. I think the worst one I ever saw was a fairly modern one in which the magnetic poles changed position, and the North Pole was somewhere around Minneapolis, and all the oceans flooded dry land, exposing new dry land, and anyone who survived was on this one ship which contained survivors and all that remained of Western Civilization. I have no idea how or why I came to be watching it. I was most tolerant of disaster movies when I was in high school. The Poseidon Adventure comes to mind.

What are your favorite or least favorite disaster movies? Which movies to do think are real disasters? How did your family fare in the Great Depression? Why do you think that disasters are such popular fodder for entertainment?

TV Time

While Husband and I were toiling away in Brookings laat weekend helping our son and daughter-in-law settle into their new home, our daughter and a friend were having an adventure in Hollywood.

In August, our daughter won two tickets to the filming of a Dr. Phil show. Airfare from Tacoma to Burbank was pretty cheap, both young women are single, both are social workers who think Dr. Phil is just awful, so what could be more fun than to go to California to the filming?

Daughter and I have been too busy this week for her to give me a full account of the trip. All I know is that the filming of the show took six hours, Dr. Phil doesn’t take a trauma informed approach to his interventions, and they got to meet a member of Motley Cru. She still thinks Dr. Phil is awful.

What TV show would you want to see filmed? What talk shows did like or not like growing up? What goofy adventures did you have as a young adult?

Already?

Good grief.  Is it pumpkin spice season already?  Is there no product that is not marketed at this time of year without pumpkin spice?  Coffee creamer. Pancake mix. Syrup. Oreos. Cookie dough. Chocolates.  Candles.  And of course the ubiquitous muffins, lattes and breads.  Even if I liked pumpkin, this is just an onslaught.  Every year!

Tell me what you like about autumn.  (Or don’t like.)

Witness

Not nearly as any books get recorded on CD these days as are recorded to Audiobooks that can be downloaded.  So every now and then, even though I have quite an impressive waiting list at the library, I find myself without a CD in the car (I know, horrors, right?) l When this happens I just peruse the CD shelves at my local library.  This is how I found Witness for the Prosecution by Agatha Christie.

I’ve said here before that I read all of Agatha Christie’s books when I was in high school.  I need to amend that; I read all of Agatha Christie’s novels in high school.  And of course high school was a long time ago so when I first watched the movie version of Witness, I didn’t realize that it wasn’t one of her novels.  It’s one of her short stories. 

As I often enjoy books more than the movies made from them, when I pulled the CD off the shelf I was wondering how this dynamic would play out.  I adore the Witness for the Prosecution movie made in 1957 with Charles Laughton, Elsa Lancaster, Trevor Howard and Marlene Dietrich.  Great acting, good story, nice denouement and fabulous courtroom scenes.

If I’d had my wits about me I would have made the leap that a short story would need fleshing out to make a full movie.  But  I don’t always have my wits about me, so I was surprised to find that the movie had taken “fleshed out” to new levels.  The Charles Laughton and Else Lancaster characters and all their action and dialog were complete embellishments as was about half of the courtroom scenes.  And the short story ending was a little more open-ended than the movie.

So I’m sure you’re all saying “VS will never watch this movie again.  She’s outraged that Hollywood would take such liberties with one of her favorite authors.”  It’s what I thought I would be saying about now.  But I’m not.  The movie does not mess with the actual story – it’s completely intact – the additional characters, dialog and scenes actually support the story.  Apparently Agatha Christie did not mind the additions and, of course, the movie was released to international acclaim.

The rest of the stories are fascinating, very unlike her novels.  No suspicious deaths, no big long list of suspects with motives and opportunities.  But great stories that capture the imagination.  I’m about half way through the CDs and am manufacturing reasons to get in the car right now, so I can keep listening. 

Have you ever had to give testimony in court? Or been on a jury?

He Said She Said

I spent an hour or so at Urgent Care yesterday (not a big deal – just wanted to be reassured that my self care was OK and to get a tetanus booster.

While waiting I noticed a woman go in and out of the UC door a few times; she was wearing a Darth Vader smock.  Long gone are the days when everybody is required to wear white!  When it turned out that she was the nurse who was going to rewrap my hand and give me my shot, I was elated.  I told her how much I like her smock and she told me about her other Leia smock.  We traded our favorite quotes from Star Wars.  Since she is a Darth fan, hers is “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”   I like that one but I do gravitate to Yoda “ Do.  Or do not.  There is no try.”

On the way home I was thinking about this encounter (which was really the highlight of my day) and how many times I use quotes from my favorite movies.

  • “On the side.” When Harry Met Sally
  • “Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges.”  Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  • “You know, assholes.” Blazing Saddles
  • “Candygram for Mongo.” Blazing Saddles (You’d be surprised how often you can make this work.)
  • “You overestimate both of us.” People Will Talk
  • “Snap out of it.” Moonstruck
  • “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”  The Fly
  • “There will be blood tonight.” Princess Bride
  • “We are men of action. Lies do not become us.”  Princess Bride  (Note: I say this to myself.  Not aloud.)
  • “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.” Princess Bride   (Again, never said outloud.  And I say it to myself with Mandy Patinkin’s accent.)
  • “Now they’re practical.” Romancing the Stone
  • “Not exactly firing on all thrusters.” Star Trek IV
  • “Fun fun fun til her/your daddy takes the T-Bird away.” (yes, I know this a song not a movie, but, what the heck, it’s my blog post…..)

Any quotes from movies (or tv or book or songs) that you find yourself using in every life?

 

 

 

We All Scream

I’ve started reading Snopes.com again because some of the stories flying around are just begging to be fact-checked.  Yesterday I discovered the Lionel Richie and Tyra Banks have teamed up to create a new ice cream flavor.

Points awarded since I KNOW who Lionel Richie and Tyra Banks are – lots of news stories I see online these days are peopled with folks I’ve never heard of (and frankly, don’t WANT to ever hear of).  The ice cream is called All Night Long and is vanilla with crumbled cookies, caramel and little chocolate fudge hearts.  Apparently Tyra Banks has an ice cream line called Smize Cream.  Who knew?  I had to look up Smize – something to do with her signature smile when she was on that model show.  I won’t be trying it any time soon as they only way you can get it is to have it shipped to you or to live in Los Angeles.  I am not paying shipping for ice cream.  Not moving to Los Angeles either.

Reading about this reminds me of when our own Beth-Ann won the Kemp’s Flavor of the Year contest with her Mini-Donuts Ice Cream (back in 2013) and when we all got together to celebrate and to try it out.  I know that they only do the flavors of the year for 12 months, but I’d love to see Mini Donuts come back.  I’m not even sure that Kemps did a flavor of the year this year or last?

Do you have a favorite ice cream?  If you had an ice cream named after you – what would it be?