Sunday, January 30, 2011

What if...

I'd be first in line for the tickets

Friday, January 28, 2011

WTH? Chipnics

OK.  I was born in the early 1960s, in Shaker Heights, Ohio.  Ground zero for junk food back then, because it was thought of as a luxury, and my people had the money to spend on "wonder foods" and advances in food sciences.

So it cam e as a surprise that "Chipnics" ever existed.   How could I have miised this?  We had Bugles to much and Choc-o-la to drink,  But never a Chipnic was found in our house.  And it was a Sealtest product?  Sealtest was a dairy company.  We drank Sealtest milk for crying out loud!

Upon finding this discovery, I feel cheated.  Terribly cheated, at that. 

Has anyone ever heard of Petrogallen?  Would love to find out something about that...

Before they went their seperate ways for the day

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

You would use these when the Rabbi, or someone special, came to call!

In my last post, I asked what one would use these utensils for:

While one could use these for just about anything, they are, in fact, the pieces to...

...a lox and bagel set!

The thin knife is wicked on a bagel - its offset blade acutally gives the blade better leverage on the thick dough of a good bagel.  The heavy duty "spreading paddle" is for cream cheese, and the delicate fork is for slecting your piece of Nova (which is the best lox that you can get).  Apparently, you can also use the fork for onions and/or capers if you are being fancy-shmancy.

I plan on keeping these - but like my mother, I'm more likely to use it for the Jewish version of pate, and one of my real weaknesses, chopped liver on a bagel.  Trouble is, we live in the one major city in Ohio that doesn't have a large ethnic Jewish population, so for a real deli, full of all that artery clogging good food, you have to drive to Cleveland.  That drive is the only thing that keeps my arteries unclogged, and me from looking like Mr. Creosote.

Anyone else own odd specific pieces of silver from a by gone era?  I'd love to see them!

Monday, January 24, 2011

And when would you use these?

OK, all you style mavens.  The above are a sterling silver set.  What would you use these for? 

On grief

I found that Grief itself the most awkward of houseguests. It comes at a time when you least want it, yet it moves in without so much thinking of your feelings, which is odd because thats exactly what it is - your feelings.

It speaks in many tongues - never in the same language to you, or those simply round.   "No, don't mind me," it says when you need comfort the most, "I'll just hover about, make myself known at irregular intervals, and when you least expect it, see it what I do best, its what makes me, me."  And it does.  Without instruction, but shrouded in convention, we are expected to weep, but are chastised for that spasms sudden on set.  We are told "It's OK, let it out," by people who move further from us because they don't like the messiness of the emotion.

In grief, we are surrounded by others; we are alone, together, with one and other.

A thought.  A memory.  The smell of toast in the morning.  A wiff of a woman's perfume, all followed by a chain of thoughts that transport you from the here and now of the safety of the walls that you have built.  Your stomach drops.  A cold shroud falls, And you feel - whether you are alone, or surrounded by loved ones, that Grief has entered your life once again.

For me, it was the realization that the phone I was picking up would be unanswered when the connection would cause the phone in her house to ring, and echo through its emptiness.  You see I wanting to pick up the phone and call Mom and tell her about what I had just learned...and...I couldn't.

There is not a day that goes by when I don't think of her, or the ways that she was part of my life.  She was  my life, my rock, my anchor. Without her I have no connections to my past, no one who remembers what I remember.  I am adrift in this sea caused by Grief.

There are those who feel it their duty to cheer me up, or bring me back down to reality.  "Get back to your life" says one, while another wants to know if she can hug me and share a pot of tea.

I am pushed and I am pulled (all for the my own good, so I am told) by those who want just to help.  But all I want is a brief moment of normailty, and yet I an vexed that I no longer know what is normal, or what can ever be.

And that moment in which I reach for the phone and catch myself because I can't just call her, and that is the moment that Grief barges back into my life.

"Nevermind it's just me," it says as it swoopes down, without any regard to my feelings.  "Before long you'll have wished that I have gone, but I'll stay to remind you  each day that she cannot be reached, that your comforts are just that much more unsecure."  And I sigh. 

I look around to see what I know that is more haunted than me, that is Grief, and it is simply doing its it job.  And I realized that in mourning each morning, as I get up, I shower and prepare for the day when enevitably I will feel fine unto that scent of toast, a visual, the whiff of a ladies perfume invade my realm.  I will look for a mirror and see a face that is weary with the knowledge that grief becomes me.

Working hard...

...or hardly workin' it?

Liz Renay says: "Its Monday...

...all you need to do is get through the day."

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Second runner up, 2007-2010 Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring

Gear-heads like me who have studied the auto industry know that Daimler-Benz would rather destroy an American company than make it work. 

Benz bullied Studebaker-Packard into its decision to end hopes of returning Packard market in the 1960s via a rebadged Facel-Vega Ellegance sedan.  And when Studebaker died its slow miserable death, Benz walked in and signed the former Studebaker dealer network into selling its vehicles.

In the good old days of my "yute", a family that had a Plymouth would buy up to a Dodge.  That Dodge would get traded in for a DeSoto.  When Dad got his promotion then the DeSoto would get traded in for a Chrysler that he would drive to the country club.  And when that AT&T and IBM stock split 10 to 1, then Mom got an Imperial.  This worked the same at GM (Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick, Cadillac) and at Ford, for about a minute with its Ford, Edsel, Mercury, Lincoln and Continental vehicles.

Well Chrysler killed off DeSoto in 1961, and then it pushed Chrysler down market in 1961 with the introduction of the low budget Newport model.  Then when the company alomst went bust, the first time in 1980, it started building one line of cars and jsut slapping badges on them hoping people wouldn't realize that a Chrysler LeBaron was really a Dodge Aries which was nothing more than a Plymouth Reliant.  We call this "Same old whore, new clothes" syndrome.

So when Chrysler sold it's business to Mercedes-Benz, good things were promised by this "marriage of equals." Many of us saw the beginning of the end of Chrysler. 

And true to form, Benz drained Chrysler of its capital, it's most talented designers and engineers and then invested next to nothing into the business.  They sent Plymouth into Automobile heaven.  Then they took the mid market Dodge and sent it down market - planning that it would only sell station wagons and SUVs and trucks, then it dumbed down Chrysler.  The result was a product mix that confused the dealers and buying public alike. One the plus side, they gave us Dr. Z and his commercials communing with small children.

When the situation looked dire and was beyond all hope,  instead of stepping to the plate, they cried "uncle" and bailed on Chrysler.

This is why I have named the 2007 through 2010 Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring to this list.


Because there is no excuse for crap like this to be built or marketed by American's for Americans.

And don't take my word for it.  I agree with Motor Trend and Car and Driver and Consumer Reports on this sad excuse of a car.  All of these periodicals have used the following adjectives to describe the Sebring and the Avenger: crass, harsh, cheap, plasticy, sub-par, unrefined, etc.  According to Motor Trend the only real reason to buy one is that you'll get a great price on it, presumably because dealers want them off there lot.  Reading in between the lines, they want these cars gone the same way that normal, law abiding citizens want the child molester down the street to move on. 

These cars are beyond bad - they are ugly from just about every angle, their materials are cheap in every sense of the word, and their engines are "whorey".  And all of this adds up to performance that is so underwhelming that the bulk of these little gems are sold to rental fleets, not to consumers.

And don't take my word for it.

All the charm of a plastic garbage can on wheels.

Fiat's CEO Sergio Marchionne was so appalled by the quality of the materials used in making up the interiors of all of the Chrysler products, he immediately ordered that and additional $100-125 per car be delegated to the 2012 re-freshening of what will be the Avenger and its twin, now re-badged as the Chrysler 200.

Now $100-125 per car additional may not sound like a lot, but combine that with the quantities of scale and mass production costs and its like hitting the lottery in today's penny pinching world.

Word on the street is that the new iteration of these cars will look better, be built better and will have a decent engine.  I'm certainly hoping for good things.  But eventually, American consumers are going to be sick of the drama and walk away from Chrysler for good because they built cars like this. 
Supporting Factors:
  • This isn't a car, its CRAP on four wheels.
  • Ugly, cheap and lacking in the word refinement.
  • Try circumsizing a baby in the cramped backseat of one of these jewels and you'll be planning its bat mitzvah instead of its bar mitzvah.
  • I think that the people who bought these are entitled to full refunds and apologies from Mercedes Benz, and a free or Maybach for their troubles.

Mitigating Factors:
  • None. 
  • I'm I being to harsh? No. 

Uncle Rebus says

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Third runner up: 1958 Packardbacker

Before we get into this one, I have to disclose that I am a huge Studebaker fan - I love the cars and up until two weeks ago, I owned a Studebaker Lark.

That said, however, the full size Packard's that came rolling out of South Bend in 1958 (this excludes the Packard badged Hawks from that model year) were duds in more ways than one.  They are known by their detractors as Packardbakers - Packards in name only, they are really Studebaker's in disguise.

This is a "Packard"?

The back story (and an over simplification of the problems faced by company) on these cars is that Studebaker, the nation's oldest manufacturer of cars, had been purchased by Packard in 1953-54.  The resulting company, Studebaker Packard Corporation, had the least amount of working capital in the business, some of the oldest production facilities and the highest manpower costs in the business.  When combined with Henry Ford's price war on GM from 1953-1955, the company's cars couldn't compete on price. 

S-P was under the governance of James Nance, a capable, driven executive who was doomed by aging products, a dealer network of old fuddy duddies and Studebaker's overhead costs driving the company into the ground.  It was Nance who discovered that Studebaker had been shielding its production costs from Packard.  The marriage of convenience was really a shotgun wedding in disguise.

To see what went wrong you have to see the before, the future and the reality of how Packard died in a whimper.

Above is a 1956 Packard - think of it as the before.  It's tasteful for the era, but it was also in the sixth year of its body cycle - next to a concurrent Cadillac or Lincoln or Imperial, it looked old in an era of when "new" sold and old faded away.  This was "Packard" before the situation became hopeless.  And there were high hopes for the future.  Remember this image as you work your way through this ramble.

This is the Packard Predictor - the show car that Packard trotted out showing the direction it would go once bank financing was secured.  You can see this car today at the Studebaker Packard National Museum in South Bend, Indiana.

Well Nance never found the funding, and in the spring of 1956 Studebaker Packard was in free-fall.  Nance left for Ford's Edsel, and then after butting head with HFII, he assumed the Chairmanship of National City Bank in Cleveland.  "After years of having to make nice with bankers, I got smart and became one," he said in an interview with Business Week.

When the 1957 Packard Clipper was introduced to Packard dealers - they almost rioted.  Tempers flared as the dealers were presented with a tarted up Studebaker President sedan featuring taillights similar to the previous years Packards.  Detractors called these cars "Packardbakers" and consumers stayed away in droves.  While these cars were handsome, but they weren't Packards.

For 1959 Studebaker would introduce its Lark compact line.  But for 1958, they had to do something, and fast. 

The answer was to take the 1957 Studebaker/Packard sedans, and modernize it with new trim. Changing the trim on last years car to make it look like this years car was nothing new in Detroit, but S-P had almost no money to spend for tooling or stampings, so changing to anything steel stampings was out.  The answer was to use fiberglass fittings and make the cars look more modern by allowing for four headlights instead of two (it was all the rage), and to adding fashionable fins to the back of the cars.

This is what they got:

Out back, things got even stranger. Again, with the fiberglass pods, this time to the rear fenders.  Instead of designing pods that would have added vertical height to the rear, designs opted to cant the pods outward.  The result made the additions look like something tacked on, rather than thought out.

Studebaker's fin-ettes were tear drop shaped at their ends, inset with a panel of corresponding color and one round taillight.  But the poor Packard received the same fin-ettes, chopped off and at an angle,  Because they were shorter than the Studebaker fin-ette, this made the Packard rear look "off" - like a garage shop experiment gone wrong.

Or looked at a different way - from the air, the incongruence of the design becomes rather evident:

From the air, looking down, you can see the 3d horror of what was done to these cars.  Note that the 1957 fenders (tipped in light blue) are fat but vertical.  Now look at the fiberglass toppers that are 1)shorter, 2) have a different angle than the base fenders and 3) appear to attach at an awkward angle on the inboard side.  Up front, you can see the short pods that attached to the 1957 front fender.  Nothing makes design sense, and it all looks tacked on, which is exactly what it was.

But wait - there's more!

S-P management did one other thing that was incredibly stupid.  In addition to short changing the trim modifications on the above mentioned cars, they green-lighted a costly and superfluous addition that did nothing to improve the allure. 

The Starlight was graceful and both Packard and Studebaker got it.  But it didn't sell either, and when the Lark line was introduced for 1959, the Starlight hardtop was gone - all that development and tooling cost for a one off year change was the type of mistake that Studebaker couldn't afford to make. 

Also gone in 1959 was Packard - 1958 was its last year, and in 1962 the company removed the Packard name from its corporate identity.  And by 1966, Studebaker ended production of automobiles.  Today the last vestiges of the company that was cannibalized for the benefit of its share holders is in the business of renting party tents in New Jersey.

How bad are these cars designed?  In an industrial design class at OSU, one exercises that a professor had his students (who were studying the history of automotive design) undertake a "fix-it excersize"  All he did was post up pictures of a 1958 Packard and told the students that they had an hour to just "fix it" without redesigning the whole car.

While die hard collectors love these cars, and they will take great umbrage with what I have just written, they are awkward, poorly executed and American consumer sensed that and ignored them for that reason.  Remove the Romanticism and they are just a sad end to a noble company.

What I am selling

Before you all get giddy that this is my kitchen, its just a period ad that I found on Plan59.

Well, we have scheduled the auction for Mom's household items for March.  Includes the usual stuff of life, and some formal living room furniture.  With the exception of the Kindel dining table, buffet and breakfront, none of it is my type, so it all goes into the sale.

I have also decided to list the Revco stainless steel built in refrigerator (just like the ones in this picture) that my late stepfather moved to the basement when he updated the 1950s ranch in the 1980s.

Trust me, if I could figure out a way to incorporate it into our house we would.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The car that almost killed Lincoln

Here is the fourth runner up in my list of the Five Worst American Autos of All Time.

1958-60 Continental Mark III, IV and V

One of the great ironies of history is that words and names come into context and comment in the most amazing ways.  Take Abraham Lincoln.  He was killed while seated at Ford's Theater.  Then in the 1920s, Ford Motors Company bought the rights to Henry Leland's fledgling luxury brand Lincoln.  Leland was the man who started Cadillac, and it was his idea to standardize parts across the board, making Cadillac the "Standard of the World."  And Henry Ford was the guy who took that concept and dragged it into a system of mass production that built a car for the "everyman".  These type of connections abound in our universe.

So my fourth place runner-up, the Continental's of 1958, 1959 and 1960 were among the cars that almost allowed Ford's Robert McNamara to kill off Lincoln 95 years after the original Lincoln met his end in Ford's Theater.

The 1958-60 Continental's were really awful cars; born from cost savings, they were huge in an era of large cars, as nimble as Humpty Dumpty, and filled with mechanical nightmares.  And they sported one of the ugliest puss's to ever lumber out of Detroit.

The back story on this car is that in 1955 Ford Motors spun off the "Continental" model from Lincoln on the eve of the reintroduction of the newest iteration of the vaunted automobile. The 1956-57 Continental Mark II was a masterpiece of automotive design and regarded as an American icon of style.   However, they didn't sell many (the price hovered near $10,000) and Robert McNamara, was running Ford for Henry Ford II,  felt that Ford was wasting capital on it's Edsel, Mercury and Lincoln brands.  McNamara (who would go onto run the US into the Vietnam War)  wanted to cut costs.   So he scrapped the Continental division, and fired its staff, merging the marque back into Lincoln.. With no staff, there was no way to design a unique vehicle.

So for 1958, it was decided that the new Continental Mark III, available as a 2-dr, 4-dr and 2-dr convertible, was essentially going to be a Lincoln with its own roof-line, grille and taillights, and with better grade interiors. Lincoln would, on it's side of the equation would sell its Base model, the mid-priced Capri and high end Premiere models beneath Continental's Mark III, which continued on as FoMoCo's ultra luxury brand.  To make it appear as if it was still its own brand, the cars were badged as "Continental, by Lincoln"

But there was one little problem with this bait and switch. 

Prior to 1958, Lincoln's were body on frame cars, like every other car built, save Nash, which used a unit body construction method like they used in building aircraft.  Ford sales were lagging and they needed an engineering marvel to point to so management made the decision to build the new Lincoln as a unibody vehicle at its Wixom, MI, plant.  As Lincoln would go, so would go Continental. In theory, a unibody vehicle is lighter than a body on frame orientation because the unit is welded into one.  The other advantage is fewer squeaks and rattles.  While unibody technology made for a stronger car, it worked best with small, light weight vehicles, like Nash's Rambler. Translating it into a car the size of a Lincoln required additional supports, blocking and reinforcements, and that meant that the Lincoln and its Continental kin were bulked up to the point a 1959 Cadillac look down right slender.

The result was an expensive, huge and totally forgettable car, with deplorable mileage that was so low that you almost blow a whole tank pulling away from the pump. The cars were filled with miles of electrical wiring to operate its complex system of windows, vents, lights, etc.

Of course she's delighted!  Not only is he going to drive it, but he'll have to enlarge the garage so they have some place to put it!

How big is BIG? The Lincoln shell was a behemoth in both length and gross weight; assembled it packed a whopping 5,700lbs. that bobbed and weaved over a wheelbase that was eleven feet in length with a total body length of 20 feet. For comparison purposes, were talking about a car closer in size to a Ford Excursion SUV.  In fact the Lincoln and Continental models came in at hundred of pounds heavier than concurrent Cadillacs.   So on the Continental, this extra bulk translated into nine feet of over hang split between the trunk and the hood and in between was a monstrously large passenger compartment. Try parking that at the mall for a quick errand.

And still stinging from the marketing research that gave them the Edsel, Ford ignored findings that suggested that women would shun such a huge vehicle because of the size, which they did.  The damn thing was simply to large.

They are, in my opinion quite "fetch" from a kitsch stand point, but they almost killed off the Lincoln brand.
Seeing these ugly things tank in the market gave McNamara enough ammo to go to Henry Ford and sink Lincoln for good. Luckily, the Edsel problem was keeping Ford Corporate busy in the marketing bomb of the century, so Lincoln won a reprieve, but with conditions. To save Lincoln for model year 1961 (and beyond) the Continental was scuttled as it own marque, and the model name applied to the only Lincoln model, named Continental, introduced in 1961. (A four door convertible was also offered that year.) That car, like the 1956-57 coupe before it, was a design masterpiece - a milestone of elegance. And it sold like hotcakes compared to the Mark III, Mark IV and Mark V.

From a Corporate perspective, how awful were the '58 Mark III, '59 IV and '60 V? When Lincoln reintroduced the Continental Mark concept of an elite coupe with a spear tire bulge in 1968, Ford named the car the "Continental Mark III" in an attempt to forget those three years of awful, ugly cars.

Supporting factors:

  • Sloppy Handling
  • Like a drunkard when it comes to gasoline
  • Handles like the Titanic, but lacks a ships band
  • Ugly canted highlights and concave front fenders
  • Bridge Busting Weight and too big for most garages
Mitigating Factors 

  • Not as garish as a 1958 Cadillac Sixty Special
  • So ugly it has kitsch appeal
  • Better built than a Henry J
  • More attractive than Henry J. Kaiser, and that ain't saying much.

Next up, the third runner up...

And now for something completely different: My Five Worst American Autos of All Time

Readers of this blog, you are a hearty lot.  Terribly supportive when I pour my heart out, you visit me here never knowing quite what I am throwing up (not in the transitive sense, mind you) on the pages of this blog from day to day.

While killing time at work today I stumbled across an old Time Magazine poll from 2007 in which an editor and car expert espoused prosaic about which were the 100 Wrost Cars of all time.  But as I read the list - were these cars really bad, or did they just rub the guys putting the list together the wrong way?  A bit of both, and sadly, some cars that did what they were built to do were on the list. 

To qualify for the list, the car in question had to be one or more of the following: 1)Craptastically Ugly; 2)Poorly Built; 3)Led to its builders down fall - or - in case of a horrific trifecta, as we will see, all three.

So I am crafting my list - the worst vehicle will will of course win the "Grande Prize". 

Stay tuned for action....

Monday, January 17, 2011

Face in the Clouds

Some people see animals in the clouds, while another would see a ship or a metaphore, both in the same whisp of vapor.

I snapped this picture outside of Lexington, Ohio on our way back from Cleveland a couple years ago - its been languishing on the camera chip for the past two years. 

I see a face.  Are you one of the people that needs to see salvation?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dirty linen

Well, yesterday I got my call from AOL and they provided me access with Mom's email account with a temporary password.

And what did I find?

I hate to disappoint each of you but there was nothing juicy, no secrets, not even a link to hidden bank accounts tucked away in the Grand Cayman Islands.

Mostly there was a lot of junk.  Mom's computer skills were pretty basic, so the idea of setting SPAM filtering was beyond her comprehension, so ALL of the crap was in her main mailbox.

Once I cut through the ads for her to enlarge a penis she was never born with, and the ads for enlarging her breasts that she never felt were anything but perfectly formed, and all of the emails from Nigerian officials trying to curry her favor by calling her "Dear One!" and speaking to her in the most sickeningly written prose ever considered, there really was much but emails from her bridge pals.

HOWEVER we did find out who the source of some disturbing emails that Mom forwarded us thinking that they were true.  At one point when she was sick, Mom was forwarding through emails from birthers and conservative nut jobs that were dripping in cloaked racism, IF you took the time to read them all the way through and click on the links embedded in the text.

As I said, Mom's computer skills were limited, so links embedded in the text of an email to my mother were only words in color with an under-line for emphasis. She never knew that they were links to Glen Beck, the American Family Council and America's most disturbed political writer, the shrill, and easily excitable Michelle Malkin.

The other thing that these emails had were statements like "This is true and has been verified by SNOPES.COM!  CHECK FOR YOUR SELF!"  If you followed the link to the article cited, indeed you would find an article on SNOPES.COM, but the article usually refuted the outrageous claims of the email body.  Still for the simple, the elderly and the easily led, links like this merely appear to be validation to suck outrageous claims that Barrack Obama's mother and father plotted to have their baby born in Africa so he could run for President in 48 years, and convert the nation to Islam.

Now that is what I call family planning!

The most disturbing email found was one sent after Mom died with the headline "The Homosexual Behind Obamacare!"  The crux of that email is that "The Homosexual" (evidently there is only one of us) "voted for President B. Hussein Obama so that Obama would hoodwink Republicans into supporting Nationalized Healthcare," (yes that is the name, in the past tense, of the plan's name)  so that they (the homosexuals) could go start "lust-fueled orgies" and infect each other with AIDS knowing that they could spent their dying days living in luxury without any worries of the price of their sinful ways.

You can't make this shit up.

Turns out that the unbalanced person sending this crap out was a niece related via marriage.  She was at the funeral, although none of us had any idea what darkness dwelt in her heart.  Had I known I would have taken great pleasure at kicking her boney ass out the front door.

Ironically, this is the same woman who my mother used say had the whitest sheets on her guest beds at her vacation home.  Now I know that this woman wanted to live in a world that was "pure" white.

And, ironically, these emails were so "not my mother."  But the one does strange things if you're all doped up on Percosets and other narcotics to cut the pain of the cancer eating away at your mind. 

But back to Mom.  So today I sent all of the organizations that have her on their email address lists and asked that they remove her address from future mailings, and I closed Mom's account.

I also sent this unbalanced hate monger a very carefully worded email, thanking her for keeping Mom in her thoughts. While I thought reading her the riot act, it really didn't make sense.  People who are her kind of crazy don't care about facts, they exist to have their fears validated.  But I was very careful not to send that from my email, but instead through Mom's account.  So this week coming, when Adolph Hitlerette sends out her weekly poisoned apple of lies, Mom's provider will send it right back her with the message that they account is closed, no body there.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Toys I had - Voice Control Kennedy Airport

I actually had this as a child - it was a garage sale toy that my mother found at local sale on Shaker Boulevard.  I probably got when I was in second grade - my brother was still living at home - and he was into playing with it while muttering things like "we didn't have stuff like this when I was your age."

But like all REMCO toys, it was pretty plain Jane if you peeled away the decals.  And being obsessed with Architecture from a young age, I had seen the wondrous terminals at the airport designed by the international host of architects, leading me to comment in disbelief "what Kennedy Airport is this?"  Where was the TWA terminal? What about the Skyport?

If the terminal was bland, the planes were mundane, with the wheels molded in a half nubbin position, they appeared to be pimples in the on pale planes under bellies. 

Being a child of some exactness, I found the headphones connected to the terminal housed record player to be limiting.  It takes miles for a real plane to descend into a real airport, but the cord on the head phones was maybe two feet long.  Try and take a plane down at that angle and your sure to die a miserable death.

To do it properly I would have had to started my descent in the living room, banked through the dining room and then come in low to the family room. Worse yet was where to have your holding pattern.  Too close to my mother's Erwin Lambreath coffee table and I was sure to get yelled at.  Circling around the dining room table was an invitation to dizziness.   But since I was unable to land the planes in a proper fashion because of the short headphone cord, there were a lot of mishaps at VOICE CONTROL KENNEDY AIRPORT.  And without the head phones, there wasn't much to work with as a toy with just crappy parts.

One of the local toy stores (I think it was the FAO Swartz at Shaker Square) carried small airplane toy models that were really detailed and we used them with the "VOICE CONTROL, KENNEDY AIRPORT"  for the 15 minutes that it held my attention.  After that it found it way into one of my mother's garage sales.  The cycle had come full circle.

I found one of these on ebay, but its missing the fold out runway system, and a couple other pieces.  Without the set up, it doesn't amount to much.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


As I continue to wade through the paperwork that was my late mother's life, one of the things that I never thought to do was check her email account on AOL, which has been steadily filling with crap for the past two months since she passed away.

We searched her desk and found nothing about a password.  Since she got her first computer, she has been an AOL user, and I have heard horror stories from people who have tried to cancel the service for deceased loved ones.

I too encountered this on my first call:

ME: My mother used AOL for her email account - she has passed away and I need to access the account.  How do we arrange this?

AOL: I'm sorry for your loss.  But your mother would need to give you that password.

ME: That would be difficult, she's dead.

AOL: I'm terribly sorry but users passwords are something that we don't keep on file.  You would need to speak with her to gain access to that information.

ME: How do I speak with her if she's dead.  I would need a Ouija Board or a medium.

AOL: I don't quite understand your point, sir.

It took two more calls before I got connected to a very nice operator who apologized, this time for the people I had spoken with before.

ME: Do you get my frustration?

AOL: I mostly do.  Unfortunately, some people will say just about anything to cancel a service.  Let me tell you what our procedure is for circumstances like this...

In essence AOL sent me fax, and I sent them copies of the death certificate and the letter appointing me as Executor.  So now I wait, and a bit of me feels a bit sad.  The contents of the email account will represent the last unexplored "treasure" left to me by my mother.  I miss her very much.

Meanwhile, at the office....

Dorris, from accounting, is really pushing all of Ethel's human resource buttons....

(With apologies to Thombeau)

Monday, January 10, 2011

How to be beautiful, Mrs. Bradford Dillman, 1973

The 1970s were a cruel decade.

Found these at miniMadMOD60s - MODEL HISTORY and I thought - "Oh Suzy - Caftans?  Really?"  I mean I never thought I would ever say "Suzy Parker" and "Alan Carr" in the same sentence.  And don't get me started on the poor dears lips - one of her best modeling attributes (along with her hair) - flattened by the vapid tastes of 1973.  Mr. Revson - Where for art thou?

What a world...what a cruel world, indeed.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Like a bad penny, its back

Back in 2009 I started a blog called Periodically Anachronistic"a blog devoted to the idea of time out of mind and the great "what if" of periodicals that never were, but maybe, should have been."

For the first few months I was rather good at keeping updated weekly, and then, things starting popping up that needed attention.  So I slid Periodically Anachronistic to the back burner where its been simmering.

Well now its time to slid it back forward and bring it back to a boil.

All of the art is stolen from various sources, but writing and the layouts and the sense of humor is all mine.  Take the January 1965 issue of Kvetch, above.  Kvetch was the favorite magazine of Portnoy's mother Pixie.

So I invite you to look through the blog, comment and give me a couple reasons to keep up on it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dear HGTV: We Need to Talk About Sarah, Her House and Her Flying Monkey

Dear HGTV,

There are many things we need to talk about - and your crack-like addiction to "House Hunters" and "House Hunters, International" is something that we need to deal with at some point -  but I think you have a bigger problem that we need to talk about.

That would be Sarah, her house and that flying monkey of an assistant, Tommy, that is so far up Sarah's ass that it isn't funny.

Here's the deal: Sarah comes across as a know-it-all bitch. 

Did that seem harsh to you?  Well I take it back.

Sarah is a know-it-all cunt.  There I said it.  She's a cunt.  A cunt with a flying monkey up her ass, as it were.

Now I know that there is a whole thing going on here with you using Canadian television because like filling like bubble wrap, and you can get it very cheap. 

And I know that that Sarah seems to know her stuff.  How do I know this?  Because periodically the flying monkey has to tell us things like "you know, sometimes I wonder what is going on in her mind.  But the truth is, she's right." 

Really, Tommy?

Which begs the question - how can something so right, be so wrong for TV?

Well, for starters, she isn't likable.  Yes, she is easy on the eye.  But she isn't fun. There is nothing fun in anything she designs.  Its always fucking perfect. And she'll tell you that.

She's cold.  I mean in a robotic way.  She's not Sandra Rinamoto, and we love Sandra.  She not handsome, like Scott McGillavery, and we love Scott.

Sarah is the anti-Candice Olson.  And we love Candice.

Sarah is commanding, demanding and cold.

If I could snap my fingers and knock down walls, or order my flying monkey to search all over God's creation for retail fabrics without any regard to price, I could design some places that would literally knock your socks off.  And I can do it without saying things like "Well, its 'aboot' time you got here!"  Ask me nice and I'd throw in some words with umlauts and all that.

But a show about a bossy woman, spending money on houses that she will never live in, designed around her personal tastes, and then telling you why it is so god damn perfect about it, well, that's just boring.  And when you add in her assistant who is just so grateful beyond all words to simply have the chance to wipe her ass, or order her chintz, well that's dysfunctional.
So if you would, and I know you won't, would you send Sarah to charm school to make her less cold and calculating?  Or at least introduce her to Martha Stewart.  Martha had the same rap until she got her ass shipped off to prison.  And guess what, a few months of lock up gave her a sense of humor. Now there is one be-atch that I would love in my house, and one I would love to have decorate it, too.

But Sarah - colder than a witches tit in a brass bra.

Warm Personal Regards,


Monday, January 3, 2011

A day of deaths

Anne Francis
September 16, 1930 - January 2, 2011


Also, I am most grieved to report the death of Kathy Dixon, the mother of my best friend from childhood, David.  Kathy early this morning.  She was too young - only sixty-nine.  She leaves four sons, her grandchildren and many, many friends. 

Strange Bedfellows

Liberace and Phyllis Diller

Liberace and Minnie Pearl

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Our New Years Eve

We dined with friends.

We had a couple after dinner cocktails.

Went to a neighbor's party at their house to observe straight people ring in the New Year.

Strangely, and at somepoint, another party merged with ours making for an odd moment of cultures clashing.

Followed by the arrival of six cute (and very straight) college boys who just happened to be walking by the house where the party was being thrown, and who, decided to take up our hostess' invitation to fill up on some food and "help us drink up all this champaign."

This development, got the women at the party buzzing.

Needless to say, by the time we took our leave, things were getting a little long in the tooth!

Here's hoping that your new year is as interesting as our
New Years Eve!