Dispatches from (deep beneath)
|March 1, 2014|
More Shopping With Ralph
|Given our (We, The
People's) penchant for holiday gewgaws and things to stuff into our faces,
what better way to observe The Holidays by making something that is both
decorative and chock full o' calories?
Edible Christmas Tree Ornaments!
If that freshly-cut-tree scent isn't enough to get you into the holiday spending mood, think what the tempting aromas of prawns, marinated lamb and onions will do!
(Just make sure that your furry "Santa's Helper" can't reach 'em.....)
|February 12, 2014|
A New Feature
|When the going gets tough (and,
let's face it: with all of the celebrity deaths lately, it's been tough)
the Tough Go Shopping! After all, this is America, right?
Some stuff out there is, well, pretty Out There, and it always seems to find me when I'm not looking for it.
Our opening salvo comes to us in the form of two products, both of which are ready to curl your hair. Only one of them, however, is actually designed as a hair styling product.
Can you tell which is which?
(btw: one of the sites has a "Live Chat" button......)
|January 31, 2014|
Another pair of greats gone.....
I can still hear the slightly
scratchy phonograph record in Mrs. Nicholson's third grade class, with
some finger-pickin' banjo (even though we didn't know to call it that)
and an enthusiastic guy's voice leading us through a couple of choruses
of "This Land Is Your Land." No doubt that Woody Guthrie was
a bit too radical (and any recordings of his version were probably even
scratchier-sounding) for our tender and unsophisticated ears (and politically
innocent, as well; like the rest of Our Land, as it wasn't November
22, 1963 for a few more days.....)
And, Speaking of Spreading The Word About People's Rights.....
Morrie Turner, an Oakland
(and later Sacramento) cartoonist, drew the comic strip "Wee
Pals" from 1965 until just days before his death this week
at the age of 90. Turner's "Pals" strip was always upbeat,
and the cast of characters was at least as varied as a Benneton ad.
Sometimes appearing as though drawn with a Sharpie, the strip nevertheless
had a razor sharp message: We Can All Get Along. Even "Ralphie,"
(no relation) the often cranky kid who would always get his comeuppance,
was likable. "Pals'" 'Soul Corner' was a biographical feature
that could enlighten and inform. It must have been a good formula, as
he had over 25,000,000 readers!
We'll miss ya, Morrie!
|* his first attempt to dismount a moving train cost him his banjo when he tumbled over it, shattering it|
|January 16, 2014|
|Another Name For
I was once told, by a reliable source on such matters *, that formaldehyde makes your tongue swell up (if you're still around to appreciate it.)
Ethanol sounds like a far better choice.
|* an experienced imbiber, who learned, first-hand,
that Prohibition was a lousy idea.
Another, similarly-experienced veteran of ethanol famines, was somehow convinced by a similarly impoverished buddy that the reformulated Sterno could be made safe through a combination of sugar, 7Up and the efforts of a Zippo lighter. Three days later, as their Liberty was expiring, they regained consciousness and concluded that, altho it wasn't lethal, it also wasn't quite worth it.
|October 10, 2013|
|Yeah, even heroes
have to go sometime, too..... *
|Scott Carpenter, one of the original
Mercury astronauts (and among my personal heroes) died today. I guess
that space flight (provided you actually get off the ground) isn't as
hazardous as one might think. He was 88 years old. The fourth American
to go into space, he went but once, and entered the record books forever.
He later found that undersea exploration was his cup of tea, and he spent
a lot of time involved in projects like SeaLab. (Outer space, Inner Space,
Underspace - it's all good.)
I'm going to watch The Right Stuff again, dangit. (He was portryed by actor Charles Frank - go ahead, see if you can visualize that.)
|* and I don't mean Alan Shepard's pre-liftoff, monitoring sensor-nullifying relief, either.....|
|September 13, 2013|
What would you
get if you crossed Russell Crowe with Moe Howard.......?
Bruno Kirby, maybe......?
I happened across an over-the-air broadcast
(yes, they still do that) of This
Is Spinal Tap one recent verrrry early morning (we're called
"Nightide Studios," remember?) and was reminded of Kirby's
versatility as a character actor. You have probably seen him a lot more
often than you think.
|20 June, 2013|
A Few Facts That
I Have Learned Since That Last Blog Post...
The average economy class
airline seat is approximately 3 inches narrower that the average coffin.
There don't seem to be any non-knockout
botanical gardens on the Big Island.
Kalua pork, steamed taro leaves and lomi
lomi salmon are still great.
Honolulu's Goodwill Store, near the Crack
Seed Store, yields many fresh (to us, anyway) designs of Aloha shirts.
Denver University offers a "Masters
In Taxation" degree.
... and, finally, time really flies when you're being had by fun!
|* seriously, in the
morning, somebody dressed as a giant banana goes whizzing by on a skateboard,
and it's a major event; by 1400 hours, a giant-wheeled, steam powered
quadricycle chugs past, with scantily-clad passengers hanging off of it
handing out opossum-flavored lozenges wouldn't trigger a second glance...
also, the first 30 or so 3-D printers were kinda fun; after that, the remaining 150 or so sort of lost their novelty. One cool thing that I saw was a guy with (what I thought was a large parrot cage) a 3 D printer strapped to his back, fabbing something whilst he wandered about enjoying the Faire. It made me think of itinerant tinkers of yore....."Oy! Printing today! Bring out yer plans! Printing right 'ere & now, Guv'nor!")
|4 April, 2013|
|A Worthy Cause To
| (direct from
The Crucible) The Crucible
has the chance to win a $25,000 grant from State Farm for our Bike Program,
and you can help. All you have to do is vote on Facebook every day between
today and April 22. And if you’re really excited you could vote
up to 10 times a day!
Click here to vote on State Farm’s Facebook App. (You’ll have to give the application permissions, but only the first time.) After that, all you have to do is click “vote” to lend your support for Bikes for West Oakland, and it's super easy to click 10 times in a row.
The Crucible’s Bike Program serves our West Oakland community with Bike Fix-a-Thons, Earn-a-Bike, Art Bike, and a drop-in repair times. This year six Bike Fix-a-Thons will enable at least 300 of our neighbors to access free repairs. 20 students in Earn-a-Bike will learn how to weld and explore other industrial arts in order to fabricate two bicycles and keep one – bikes are donated to community organizations and toy drives or sold to support the program. And Art Bike participants conceive and create unique artworks from frame to finished project.
The Crucible’s Bike Program was one of 200 causes (from over 3,000 entries) selected, which is a huge honor, and we only get funded if we reach the top 40. So please take a second to vote (or 10 seconds to vote 10 times), share with your friends, and check out The Crucible’s Bike Program in person soon. There’s something here for everybody.
|1 April, 2013|
|Whew! What a job.....!|
Small wonder that we've been
out of touch (in so many ways) for so long. We've been in the throes
of a cleanup job like never before! It seems that a rather large (and
potentially dangerous) chemical spill has had us in a state of near-total
concentration for most of the season, attempting, sometimes vainly,
to minimize its ill effects.
Next one: The Crucible's Open House, saturday 6 April 2013. Hope to see ya there, and we can explain what we're dealing with here......!
|8 January, 2013|
what’s on ‘California’s Gold’ tonight?”....
| ... is a clarion call that has
echoed through Downtown California every night around 7:30 when nothing
else is going on (packing for a show or a trip, going to a meeting, whatever)
- for at least 15 years.
We discovered “CG” when the Ralph’s friend, a former California State Parks ranger, mentioned it, and soon became charmed by its improbably genial, folksy host, Huell Howser.
Huell - it just seems too stiff to call him “Mr. Howser,” New York Times-style - quickly became a part of our lives, appearing so regularly in our Downtown California living room that we soon memorized the opening credits where he announced that the show was endorsed by “the California Teachers Association, the California School Boards Association and the California Library Association.” It’s a Downtown California tradition to recite this right along with Huell, doing our best to mimic his Tennessee accent.
But our love of Huell never was ironic. Much as we liked him as a presenter, we loved the way he stood back and let the people and places visited take center stage. Everything was “aMAYzing.” There were always remarkable “juxtapositions.” And frequently things “just get better and better”...unless “it doesn’t get any better than this.”
We even indulged in the California’s Gold Drinking Game - the triggers being all of the above, as well as any time Huell repeated back to a person whatever they had just said. (Local person: “So this is where the goatherders would come for dinner on Saturday nights.” Huell: “So you mean this place was filled with goatherders on Saturday night?” OK, that’s not a real example, but it gives you the idea.)
We liked to find out about places to visit from “California’s Gold” -- one memorable trek took us to the Grace Hudson Museum in Ukiah -- and also enjoyed watching Huell do shows on places we had already seen, such as Daffodil Hill.
Part of his charm did indeed come from the, er - juxtaposition - of his gentle, enthusiastic approach and his bodybuilder, Marine Corps physicality. And even more, we think other fans, like ourselves, could sense that all of his enthusiasm or positivity was completely genuine.
Should any of us have doubted this, on Twitter the day after Huell’s death, @jacobsoboroff wrote, “RIP Huell Howser, CA legend. He launched my career with this unplanned moment: Always wanted to be Huell 2.0.”
In Soboroff’s video, Howser -- mid-interview -- is taken completely by surprise by the young cameraman’s sudden appearance and not only does not blow his top - he incorporates Soboroff into his show. They became friends after that. Soboroff also noted in another tweet that there were already more than 300 comments @HuffpostLA.
Just a day after Huell’s death was announced, the rather unfortunately-handled “toodeadfordreaming” posted this lovely tribute video -- which caught the man’s spirit as well as anything could. There were already 129 comments and 224 “likes” on the post as of Jan. 7, the day after Huell died.
The outpouring of sadness, humor and warm memories captured in multiple forms of media served to remind us that thousands of other Californians must’ve felt much as we did - that Huell was our own special find and friend. And yet, rather than feeling jealous that others loved him too, we find it heartening that this gentle man was appreciated by so many.
We hope he knew how beloved he was. The shock that greeted the news of his death suggests that he was a private man who wanted his legacy to be the work that he did, bringing to light the many aMAYzing facets of the adopted state he loved so well.
A consummate TV professional and businessman, Huell had planned for
the future, donating all episodes of his life’s work to Chapman
University, as well as three houses. The university has digitized
all the episodes, and has placed them online for free public viewing.