Over the next few days I will be deleting things on this blog and moving them to my new blog at technoknob. A few things will remain here, mainly the stuff that can't be moved without causing issues with archives, but most stuff will disappear.
5/29/09 edit: Commenting on this blog has been turned off, and all 2007 Blogathon and other misc. posts have been deleted.
April 28, 2009
Over the next few days I will be deleting things on this blog and moving them to my new blog at technoknob. A few things will remain here, mainly the stuff that can't be moved without causing issues with archives, but most stuff will disappear.
April 12, 2009
Amazon, in an amazing bit of fuckwittery, is excluding certain "adult" books -- "adult" in their primitive little minds, of course -- from searches. Read more about it here at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. In particular, this comment seems quite damning, as does this one: A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality, for instance, is still ranked. I’m thinking that makes [Amazon's] motives unmistakably clear.
not all LGBTQ-themed books have lost their rankings. There's apparently plenty to be found about this on Twitter under hashtag #amazonfail. And of course, the definition of Amazon Rank cannot be ignored.
Amazon, I buy everything from you. EVERYTHING. I live in a small town with almost no worthwhile stores, and the few specialty stores we do have are much more expensive than online prices. I must purchase 2-5 things a month from Amazon and have for years. Books, DVDs, CDs, small appliances, even drug store items. I am one of your Amazon Vine reviewers as well, and I suspect the amount I spend yearly on pre-code DVDs puts one of your executives' children through college. A good one, too, not some crappy state school like I went to.
So it seems ridiculous that you would do something so vile and piss customers like me off. I'm just one person, I'm not important, but I'm one of thousands. Thousands are important. Perhaps you should think about this, Amazon, and stop censoring search results because you're afraid some crazed Fundie from one of the square states  might accidentally see Lady Chatterly's Lover in their search results.
Don't become another Walmart, homogenizing everything down to pure, mind-narrowing blandness. If someone finds themselves offended by the sight of, say, a Balzac novel ("It sounds like 'ball sack'! My god, Martha, cover the childrens' eyes!") then perhaps that should indicate to them that bookstores are not safe places for them. Meanwhile, those of us made of sterner stuff should be allowed to find Rubyfruit Jungle in a book search.
It's not your job to protect people from new ideas, scary concepts, or alternative fiction, Amazon. Cut it the hell out.
 I am also in a square state. One of the squarest. The crazed Fundies I refer to are observable phenomena. This is not hyperbole.
A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality, for instance, is still ranked.
I’m thinking that makes [Amazon's] motives unmistakably clear.
Posted by Stacia at 7:56 PM
September 27, 2008
Recently I gave up on the blog Kate Harding's Shapely Prose. I understand that the blog has a stiff moderation policy, which includes this bit:
Racist, classist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, and sexist comments are as unwelcome here as sizeist ones. That goes equally for unintentionally offensive language. If someone gets pissy at you for using the word “retarded” for instance, that doesn’t mean they think you’re an evil person who hates developmentally disabled people OR that they’re hysterical, overreacting thought police. It means there are people around here who find that word hurtful, and we’re a lot more interested in protecting their feelings than your god-given right not to think of a better word.
This comes into play on the thread I read recently entitled "Turn that douchehound upside down." This is a thread about examples of sexual harassment women have experienced. See, a jerk named Richard claimed that women don't really get harassed or exposed to sexist remarks all that often. As blogger Sweet Machine says:
[Some men] have no idea what many of us are subject to, because those things tend not to happen when there are men with us... So in the spirit of a recent post at The F Word (UK) that turned into a mass documentation of street harassment, I’d like to open this thread up to the perhaps traumatic, perhaps triggering, hopefully cathartic task of proving Richard wrong.
In this post a commenter named Big Liberty posted about her horrific experience in an abusive relationship, and in doing so, called her abuser a "fucktard".
Moderator and author Sweet Machine told her that "fucktard" was ableist and "we don't stand for that around here."
So I already had a problem with this issue. Big Liberty's story of abuse and her lack of recourse -- a story requested by the blogger -- was dismissed because of the use of one unfortunate term. I had to ask myself, was the use of slang and/or profanity that was never intended to be derisive towards the differently-abled really so bad that it overrode the traumatic experience Big Liberty shared?
For me, personally, no. I don't think she deserved a public scolding. There was no reason an email couldn't have been sent, the comment could have been removed with a request to repost it without the offending word, or any number of other solutions.
There's also the title of this entry. "Douchehound"? Perhaps Sweet Machine hasn't been exposed to bloggers who find the term "douchebag" and other related epithets to be sexist. Interestingly enough, Feministing and other blogs dealt with the term on the same day that this "Douchehound" post showed up on Shapely Prose. It's a coincidence, I'm sure, but I think it's important to note that Sweet Machine's own language had -ist components (sexist) and therefore she may need to think twice before labeling someone else's language as an -ist (ableist).
Ultimately, though, Shapely Prose has a moderation policy about using "retard" and its variants, a policy they enforce, and that is their right. Absolutely no question. However, I do believe that calling Big Liberty out publicly for the use of the word "fucktard" was inappropriate for no other reason than the blog's moderation policy is so hard to find. Sweet Machine didn't even link to the moderation policy when she scolded Big Liberty. To find the moderation policy, I had to search for a months-old post by Kate which linked to it. I couldn't find it on the main page at all.
So that's all bad enough, but I assure you it got better. When Big Liberty apologized, Sweet Machine suggested using the Shakespearean Insult Generator instead. As someone quickly pointed out, the Insult Generator has plenty of problematic insults, "[Thou art] as fat as butter" being the one pointed out on the thread. There is also "gorbellied", "paunchy", "glutton" and "rump-fed". There are many insults involving violence, and ableist insults involving words such as "moron" and "fool" and "illiterate", and the charming epithet "bum-bailey".
And this is supposed to be better than "fucktard"? Really?
I stuck with the blog for a couple more weeks until this recent post, where "Amish" became synonymous with "wrong". From Kate Harding's entry about an article and scientific study regarding weight and genetic disposition:
Fortunately, though, the article also offers another way to get your three to four hours [of exercise] a day: become Amish. The study of this particular genetic variant — thought to affect 30 percent of people of European descent (so I’m not sure if people of color are off the hook or expected to exercise even more) — focused on an Amish community in Pennsylvania, where the lack of cars and modern technology means folks are pretty active in their daily lives. In that context, people with the genetic variant in question often were getting three to four hours of moderate exercise every day, and they were no more likely to get fat than people without it.
Which… bully for them. There’s a lot to be said for that lifestyle. But most of us aren’t fucking living it.
I understand the point, that the study shouldn't have tried to make a certain culture, race, or lifestyle seem optimal because of their rate of obesity. That's crap, and that kind of "scientific research" needs to be called out. But why does it seem like Kate Harding is really railing against the Amish rather than the study?
Whether Harding intended to be anti-Amish instead of anti-stupid-science or not is debatable, but the commenters certainly noticed her attitude and went with it. Comments went immediately to a very discouraging place:
I’d rather be fat than live Amishly.I'm a fat acceptance supporter, so I'm not impressed by a comment that sounds a lot like "fat is bad but Amish is worse." You'd think a fat acceptance blog with a serious moderation policy wouldn't be impressed, either. There were plenty of comments that echoed this idea that being Amish is somehow the problem:
Amish people do all that physical labor because they’re fucking Amish.Good grief.
But that lifestyle isn’t practical for everyone who’s, you know, not Amish, nor should it be. Guess what- safety pins were invented and so were hair dryers and we’ll have to deal with that.
Very sensitive to the religion and culture of others. I think this is my favorite, though, the idea that those damn Amish with all their money just throw the curve off:
On health outcomes, you’d have to really control for wealth: one thing about the Amish and old order communities that I know of is that they have money.
Also, the Amish are evil and that's why the women aren't fat:
Now about those Amish…were they ones where the women can’t eat until after the menfolk? Or one of those ordnungs where they have to wear 30 pounds of clothing so no one will have impure thoughts, but lose 10 pounds of sweat a day in the summer ’cause they’re so hot? (Wonder how many die of heat stroke?)
As of right now, I see no moderator has said a thing to anyone about these comments.
Now this was something I'd noticed a long time ago, but yesterday I mentioned it on the blog Fatly Yours, where discussion of an incident on the Fat Liberation Feed was taking place. Courtesy of Fatly Yours: Apparently there was a right-wing blog called Coffee Catholic on the Fat Liberation Feed that presented its views in a way many found inappropriate. There was some heated talk between the owner of the Fat Liberation Feed and people who read the feed.
The owner felt extremist viewpoints were all over the feed already from other blogs, primarily Shapely Prose. She felt horrifying hyperbole from Coffee Catholic ("feminist liberals love to kill babies and the elderly") was equal to items found on Shapely Prose. Honestly, it's obvious nothing on Shapely Prose comes even close to the stuff found on Coffee Catholic, and the owner of the feed seemed to me to be upset that her own political viewpoints (right-wing) were being attacked.
After poking around a bit I suddenly realized that the owner of the feed was Big Liberty, the same person who had been called out for using "fucktard" on Shapely Prose.
Now I don't know if this is all coincidence or not, but I have to wonder if Big Liberty's problem with Shapely Prose goes back to the "fucktard" incident. Or if the moderators of Shapely Prose were already upset with Big Liberty because they knew she was not left-wing like they were. Or... well, there are 1,000 what-ifs here.
The easy answer is "Shapely Prose can do whatever the fuck they want with the blog" and "Big Liberty can do whatever the fuck she wants with her feed" and that's that. I just felt the need to get it all out in a blog entry.
Posted by Stacia at 3:09 AM
September 9, 2008
An open letter to some guy named Stuart Franklin, who likes to go by the nym "glitterninja":
Hello, Stuart. My name is Stacia, and my email address is glitterninja (at) gmail.com. I've had this email address for 3 years, and "glitterninja" is based off of an old Usenet handle I had for a few years prior to that.
I tell you this for a reason.
For several months, Stuart, you have been using my email address to sign up for various websites. Not only is this irritating, but it means I can often go into your profile and account and see your personal information, simply because I'm the one who has that email address. I can log right in, and sometimes just clicking links on the emails takes me through auto-login, no need for a password.
I don't think you want this to continue. You should be getting your emails, and you certainly don't want me to see all your private information.
So please, Stuart, for your sake if not for mine, stop giving out my email address for your silly social website accounts.
I tell you this because I am your friend.
Posted by Stacia at 5:35 PM
July 30, 2008
Frieda at She Knits All Day participated in the craft Pay It Forward, and I was lucky enough to be one of the recipients of her terrific crafts, the pincushion and pins pictured to the left. Thank you, Frieda! They are lovely!
I highly recommend Frieda's blog, too, as she posts some amazing crafts.
You can participate in my Pay It Forward by reading the rules in this entry on my blog on InsaneJournal. You can comment either there or here -- I don't take anonymous comments on InsaneJournal, so unless you're signed up you'll have to reply here instead. There are still 2 spots open, and I will keep it open until filled or the end of August.
Posted by Stacia at 2:29 AM
January 16, 2008
I'd like to talk a bit about my attempt to help edit Wikipedia and review articles.
Ages ago I added a spoiler warning to the "Match Point" article, as it gave away the ending of the film. The spoiler tags are small and are already coded into Wikipedia, which does not prohibit their use. I checked several pages and rules before adding it and felt it was appropriate.
Unfortunately, I discovered there's a handful of Wikipedia editors who feel spoiler tags should be banned. They believe everyone who sees a "Plot" section on Wikipedia will automatically know there will be spoilers about a film, and that anyone who is surprised to find Wikipedia spoiling a movie is "stupid" and "naive". This small group of editors -- about 5 to 7, the best I can tell -- have a script that shows them every instance of a spoiler tag being added, just so they can remove all the spoiler tags in an effort to force their own opinions onto the entirety of Wikipedia.
What Wikipedia users need to know is that this kind of thing happens all the time. When you go to an article, you are likely seeing the product of an agenda, an article which exists simply to promote some Wikipedia editor's self-interest. After it became clear that this small group of editors were deliberately refusing to allow discussion on the spoiler tag subject, I left.
I generally don't use Wikipedia for film research on my main blog. However, I ended up going there for a quick answer about "Casino Royale" (1967) last week and discovered the Wikipedia article for "Casino Royale" was painfully bad. There were spelling errors, inconsistencies, incorrect facts, and such poor writing that in several instances I couldn't determine the meaning of what had been written. Yet this article was given "Good Article" status.
Appalling. The spoiler tag debacle a few months behind me, I (foolishly) signed up to review Good Article candidates myself, as I had been wanting to edit more on Wikipedia and I felt I was qualified to improve the site. The first article I reviewed was amazing, just incredibly well-written and well-sourced, and I cheered up. Surely this won't be so bad, I thought.
I started on the second article about an obscure cartoon character I happened to know a bit about. The guy who wrote the article nominated it for GA status himself, obviously pleased with his achievement and looking for accolades. It was obvious even to me -- a relative newbie who isn't involved in Wikipedian culture at all -- that this guy enjoyed the praise he'd received on an earlier article and was attempting to repeat that success.
There was nothing successful about this article on the obscure cartoon character. My first quick review of the article found over 30 serious spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammar issues in this short article. There were repeated sentences, contradictions, phrases which made no sense, and information I didn't feel was sourced well. I made suggestions on improvement and edited about a dozen small errors myself.
The guy working on the cartoon character's article claimed to have done everything I suggested, however, he had not. All the errors were still intact and I felt he didn't even know that these were errors. The only change I saw was that he'd added two new sentences to expand on a source.
Turns out, those two new sentences were lifted verbatim from a published book on animation. This guy was a plagiarist.
I marked the article and failed its nomination as a Good Article. I started to wonder, how could this guy be so highly praised by other Wikipedians? His writing was atrocious, he was a plagiarist, and he was a self-promoter more interested in attention and "barnstars" than he was in actual facts or accuracy. He had bragged on his own page that he was working hard on this cartoon character article, and the audacity of someone begging for praise for an article they plagiarized was astonishing to me. I suppose he assumed no one would ever know he'd ripped off someone else's work.
Which may be accurate. Remember the "Casino Royale" article, which was incorrect and even difficult to understand, yet was given "Good Article" status? Perhaps the people who review GAs simply don't pay much attention and most editors know they can get away with almost anything.
A day later I went back to the article and thought I found a second instance of plagiarism. Since I had no access to the rest of the books he'd used for sources, I had no chance of finding out if he'd lifted from the books, but I suspected he did. Instead, I was pretty sure I'd found a case of him lifting from a website. It turned out I was completely mistaken.
You can imagine what happened next: the guy got indignant and offended. Somehow he felt that since I only found one instance of plagiarism and not two, it retroactively mitigated what he'd done. I had no problem admitting my error and correcting it -- it was a case of me assuming too much and I should have been more careful. But let's not forget that I was only checking the guy's sources because he'd already plagiarized once. When he thought I might affect his status as a good editor, he flipped out.
Note there was nowhere to report him for plagiarism. If no one stumbles across this article about an obscure cartoon character, no one will know he did this.
Again, this was a case of an article being written solely because someone wanted a notch on his editorial belt, a chance at creating a Good Article, which would then possibly be made into a Featured Article or earn him "barnstars" as he'd earned before. Sure, the article was plagiarized from another author's hard work. Sure, the original parts of the article were poorly written and had incorrect information, but you know what? Factual accuracy was never the point of the article.
Remember that the next time you want to use Wikipedia for a source.
Posted by Stacia at 4:07 AM
December 1, 2007
This is a free pattern I got on several skeins of Jiffy yarn. It's not online anywhere so I'm posting it here, so I can link to it on Ravelry. Comments are of course welcome.
CROCHET BABY AFGHAN
* Lion Brand Jiffy yarn, 6 skeins, 2 balls of each color (pattern calls for 2 balls each Light Pink, Caffe, and Dusty Pink. I'm using 2 balls each Slate, Fisherman, and Charcoal Mist) - colors known as A, B, and C in pattern
* Crochet hook size K - 10.5 (6.5 mm)
* Large-eyed tapestry/blunt needle
5 1/2 repeats of row 1 = 8 inches with 1 strand. Be sure to check your gauge.
NOTE: Thanks to Sandie on Ravelry, who figured out the error in the pattern for me! I believe I have it corrected below; you can see the original pattern as scanned, but the text above is corrected. The pattern incorrectly has 2 shells at the beginning of row 1, when it should not.
With color A, chain 104
ROW 1: In 8th ch from hook, work (2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc), * ch 1, skip 3 ch, dc in next ch, ch 1, sk 3 ch, in next ch work (2 dc, 1 ch, 2 dc)\, repeat from * across
ROW 2: Join B, do not end off A. Ch 4, turn. * In next ch work, ch 1, dc in next ch, ch 1, repeat from * across, end last repeat dc in 3rd ch of Row 1 beginning chain.
ROW 3: Join C, do not end off B. Ch 4, turn. * In next ch work, ch 1, dc in next dc, ch 1, repeat from * across. End last repeat with dc in top of beginning ch.
Repeat row 3 working in stripe pattern of 1 row each A, B, and C. Carry unused colors up side of work. Work until afghan measures 36 in from beginning. End with an A row. Fasten off.
With A, single crochet evenly along both long sides of afghan. Fasten off. Weave in ends.
ch = chain
dc = double crochet
work = 2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc
Here are scans of the label the pattern came on:
Posted by Stacia at 5:10 AM
July 29, 2007
This is Petey, who is being sulky along with our other two cats. They can't understand why I've been up 24 hours and it's upsetting their intensive napping schedule. I put the clock there because it makes the post feel more official.
Petey is the only cat we've had which did not come from the shelter. The story of how we got Petey sounds completely fictitious, though, so consider this a warning. I've had more than one person accuse me of making this story up. Trust me, I don't have this kind of imagination.
My dad died just before Christmas of 2000. A co-worker of mom's showed up at the house a couple of days later, accompanied by her little 10 year old daughter. The girl heard about dad and arrived with a teeny grey and white kitten to give to mom "so she wouldn't be lonely". When I was a kid, our family had a grey and white cat named Slipper, so the new kitten fit right in like Slipper 2.
The girl had named the kitten Patsy after Patsy Cline (the kid's got good taste) but after a day or so I wasn't sure Patsy was a girl. Pretty soon I caught "Patsy" licking himself and exposing something that girl kitties don't have. I joked around and said that maybe we should call the kitten "Peter" instead (get it? It's funnay!) Mom said, "Oh, Petey, that sounds like a good name!" A minute later she realized what I meant, and screwed up her face in a disappointed look only moms can perfect, but she stuck to her guns. Petey it was.
In 2005 mom died and my husband and I inherited Petey. He and Reggie are great friends and Petey is a real character. He will snark at you if you tell him to stop screwing up, and occasionally will bat at you if he's really upset. Of course, he's never scolded unless he's doing something wrong, like operating machinery without permission, but he still hates to be told what to do.
You can let out a sigh of relief: El Brendel has arrived! A friend of mine said he thought the guy who played the "Philip J Frye" role in this movie would get annoying really quickly. He was referring to El Brendel, and you'd think his broad vaudevillian schtick would get old, but it hasn't yet.
The funniest moment thus far is when he gets upset after realizing he was no longer a member of the Elks.
As you can see above, the set design was amazing. "Just Imagine" was nominated for an Academy Award for set design. Also, there's some interesting trivia about the movie here at the IMDb.
I've been saving these for when I needed a pick-me-up... and believe me, I need one stat! I'm seriously tired and even though we're on the home stretch of Blogathon 2007, it's hard to keep motivated. But maybe a little blast from the past will help.
I grew up in Lebanon, Missouri, and most of my relatives are in or near Springfield or up near Washington (close to St. Louis). I was pleasantly surprised to find some postcards in this box from Missouri; since the grandparents lived in Springfield I didn't think they'd considered driving in state to be traveling.
The first card (way up at the top) is from a diner called Adam's Cafe in Camdenton. This is such a cute little place. When I was a kid I went to Camdenton several times to see movies, because Lebanon didn't have a theater anymore. We also went to nearby Bennett Spring, and my favorite place, Ha Ha Tonka. My husband and I have gone back to Camdenton a couple times and stayed at a decent hotel with a private whirlpool (man, I would love that right about now!). Ha Ha Tonka has fences and pathways so you can't climb around all the ruins anymore, which is kind of disappointing, even though I know it's the right thing.
I can't place where this diner is, or would be. The card is from the 1950s, and while I found some postcards online from Adam's, there doesn't seem to be an Adam's anymore.
The second card is from Booneville, featuring Pete's. There's also a street scene card where you can see Pete's again, next to the Montgomery Ward's. This site has more info on Pete's, which was "known for good food." The Booneville cards are all from 1952.
The last card is of the Abou Ben Adhem shrine mosque in Springfield. I thought this was a religious mosque, but it's apparently Shriners. I don't know anything about Shriners, but every old man I knew in Missouri was a Shriner. A neighbor across the street from us in Lebanon was the band major for a famous Shriner marching band, and he had the coolest fez I've ever seen.
Hoo boy, what have I gotten myself into?
I obtained a copy of "Just Imagine", a 1930 sci fi flick about life 50 years in the future. Yes, life in 1980! Anyone would go into this thinking it's going to be a hoot.
And it is. Everyone has personal flyers instead of cars; to the left is a policeman in a floating traffic sign. Marriage is decided by the courts and everyone has a code instead of a name. Fortunately, our heroine is named "LN" (pronounced "Ellen") so you can relate to her.
The superfuturistic year of 1980 has hand dryers! And camera phones! What a futuristic utopia 1980 shall be! Ignore the fact that the policemen still have an Irish brogue. I mean, if "Star Trek" can have a Scottish engineer, then by gum "Just Imagine" can have Irish cops.
Not too long into the movie our handsome hero sings a terrible song about how he wishes girls were like they used to be in the old days. This picture of the flapper shaking a cocktail shaker around is from his innocent fantasies. The hero bemoans the fact that women nowadays are professionals with their own jobs and keys and stuff, and he'd rather have a ditzy flapper who just wants to have fun.
I think I have died and gone to heaven.
July 28, 2007
Wow, what a terrific movie! I don't want to give too much away, but I would like to say that if you love pre-code or classic film, you'll like "Trouble in Paradise". Director Ernst Lubitsch has some great movies, although I was just discussing with a friend about how I didn't like "Shop Around the Corner" (1940) because it was so harsh and ugly. "Trouble in Paradise" and "To Be or Not To Be" really utilize the harsh edges in a good way.
I love to hate Miriam Hopkins but in this film she was quite good. You didn't hear a lot of her trademark half-whiny Southern airs type of voice, which was good. She was succinct and direct in the role, with the exception of the beginning where she chewed the scenery in a distinctly Shatnerian way. Herbert Marshall is a good actor, but he's always playing single note roles, and this was no exception. Kay Francis' role was unapologetically frivolous. This movie has really cheered me up! I might make it to the end of Blogathon after all!
Ooh, I'm just about to the end of the film, and this has been a terrific ride! The settings are gorgous. Check out that beautiful art deco set piece to the left.
Also, I'm really understanding why the Hays Office had such a problem with the film. Check out this dialogue between Lily and Gaston when Lily is afraid Gaston likes Madame Colet:
Lily: Did you ever take a good look at her... uh...?
Lily: They're all right, aren't they?
Gaston: Beautiful. What of it?
Wait, I don't get it.
Since I'm blogging for the ASPCA, I figure catblogging is on topic.
This is Reggie, our oldest and snuggliest cat ever. He's super affectionate and very vocal. (I tried to get the clock in the background but you can't see it; it says 10:48.)
Sometimes, Reggie seems really smart because he can understand a few words, but then he seems really dumb because he thinks every can opened is tuna! We got him at the shelter in 1996. When we found him he had an indentation around his neck from being outside in the rain with a leather collar that shrank. Turned out his owners had tossed him outside with a bag of cat food while they went on vacation, hoping he'd run away or get run over. Neighbors complained because he howled to be let back in the house. The shelter tried to get the police to issue the negligent owners a ticket, but the police didn't think mistreating or abandoning a pet was worth bothering with.
That's the kind of issue we deal with in this area. The ASPCA provides education and assistance to help combat this unfortunate attitude. Please consider pledging a few dollars toward the ASPCA!
Kay Francis is so marvelous. She's really quite good in "Trouble in Paradise".
In this scene, Lily -- Madame Colet's (Kay Francis') secretary -- is explaining why she's already had breakfast:
Lily: You see, I have to get up very early. My little brother goes to school. You see, mother is dead.
Madame Colet: Yes, that's the trouble with mothers. First you get to like them, and then they die.
Wonderful movie, but kind of slow going having to stop every 20 or so minutes to blog about it. I may do some postcard posts in the middle of movie blogging.
Francois (Edward Everett Horton) and The Major (Charlie Ruggles) are vying for the same woman. They run into each other at a fine jewelry shop, looking for a jeweled handbag to replace their love's recently lost one. Francois was there first, however, and is gloating.
Francois: Nice day, Major.
Major: Mmm hmm HMM hmm mm.
Francois: You're looking lovely today, Major.
Major: Now see here my good man, I've had just about enough of your insulting remarks!
I'm about 25 minutes into the first movie I'm "liveblogging", a little pre-code gem called "Trouble in Paradise". The movie was released in 1932, but could not be re-released after about 1935 when the Hays Code kicked in. It came out in 2003 on a Criterion Collection DVD, which is what I've rented to watch today.
Starring one of my favorite 1930s actresses, Kay Francis, this movie is both creaky and sublime. The actors, especially Miriam Hopkins, chew the scenery for all it's worth. The music cues seem to have been worked in during actual filming, as you can see actor Herbert Marshall wait for the music to stop before continuing his lines. Shadows of the microphones are seen on the walls, and twice now during a fade in to a new scene, I've noticed actors looking off-camera waiting for their cue, then reacting when given their signal.
While the Continental feel is a nice touch and always enjoyable, it's starting to get a bit thick. I hope Kay Francis' appearance thins it out a bit.
Some of the not-so-subtle sexual humor is a hoot. Take the still below of the neon sign advertising perfume: the man has just leaned over and squirted the perfume, waking an obviously nude woman in the bed who sits up and starts waving her arms. Who doesn't love blatant innuendo? Nobody, that's who!
I said there was going to be catblogging, and I meant it! Since I'm blogging for the ASPCA, I figured some animal content would be a good idea.
This is Simon, by far the largest cat I've ever owned. I thought it would be fun to take "live" photos, so I kind of lured Simon to be near the clock. He doesn't like to do what he's told, hence the look on his face.
He's our youngest and like all our cats has come from the local shelter. Our local shelter is continually fighting budget cuts and lack of funds, and the national ASPCA helps shelters like these house, place, and care for lost and unwanted pets.
You can visit my local animal resources here: the local shelter and Riley County Humane Society.
This is my first post for the 2007 Blogathon!
Now, you're probably wondering who the two dated tourists to the left are. That's my mom and dad, in a picture taken by me at the New Mexico Bataan Memorial Building in about 1981. I was almost 10 years old at the time and dad, who had taken dozens of whirlwind driving tours across America in his youth, decided to take his family on one. This was during that tour.
We went to nine states in about five days.
You'll notice the same kind of overzealous travel schedule in the postcards and photos I'm going to post today. I figure that's why I found no pictures of people in the box of souvenirs I unearthed; our 1980 vacation pictures of us show a very greasy, windswept, tired family (except dad, who always looked tanned and rested).
I should also note that today would have been my parents 37th wedding anniversary. My parents both passed away in the last five years, but I always think of them on July 28th.
Good morning, and thanks for joining me here during the Blogathon.
June 20, 2007
For several years I've wanted to visit ghost towns. In the beginning, I thought I'd have to travel to Montana or California where plenty of gold rush ghost towns can be found, but that's a long way to travel from my home here in Kansas. Then last year I was watching an episode of "Sunflower Journeys" which mentioned Pattonsburg, Missouri, which was abandoned in the 1993 flood and its discarded buildings used for the fire scene in the movie "Ride with the Devil". That's when it dawned on me: Kansas must have ghost towns. Blaine is north of Westmoreland in Northeast Kansas. It was never a large town, only about 250 people at the most. It's situated at the junction of KS Highways 16 & 99, and is very easy to get to. The drive north on Highway 99 is not only beautiful, it's full of history. The highway crosses dozens of wagon ruts from the Oregon and Santa Fe trails (which you can read about here.) We noticed a weird little black cloud just ahead of us for most of the drive: It used to be paved, and it's hard to tell by the photo, but remnants of a yellow double line could be seen under the gravel. The road was about a block long and ran east-to-west in front of the old shack. It ended abruptly at the eastern end, as shown, so I drove to the western end of the road, where it connected with Highway 99. That's when I realized the road used to be part of Highway 16. The highway is now re-routed about three blocks north and runs in front of the church. I haven't been able to determine why, although I suspect it happened when Blaine's main streets turned to gravel and were no longer fit to serve as the junction of two well-traveled highways. I continued on, and discovered this: This building was immediately to the left of the sidewalk. Again, it looks just like a garage. You couldn't see much inside except some big nasty pieces of metal hanging down from what remained of the roof; between the nasty metal and the angry resident, I wasn't about to go in. This was, by far, the most interesting find. These stairs were in the middle of what's now a grassy lot. They're round concrete stairs, obviously for a building that faced the corner at an intersection on Main. The building is long gone, and I could see nothing under the 18-inch tall grass. This is the moment I realized that ghost town exploring was best done in the winter. Less allergies, mosquitoes, and overgrown brush. This is the last old building I found, just off Main to the west. As you can see, it's a garage: Dave's Body Shop. It was an interesting trip. This was the second "ghost town" I visited that day. Both were chosen because they were easy to find, and because of the information in the Fitzgerald book. In retrospect (and after doing a bit of research) I've concluded that Ghost Towns of Kansas and Faded Dreams are both more about the past history of former towns than anything else. There are no directions to the towns, no current pictures, and some of the descriptions are either wrong or woefully out of date. You'll see a clearer example of this in my next Kansas Ghost Town post: Louisville.
Last week my husband and I finally took the plunge. I researched some ghost towns online (especially this site) and found a series of books by Daniel C. Fitzgerald. After reading his Ghost Towns of Kansas: A Traveler's Guide and Faded Dreams: More Ghost Towns of Kansas, I chose two nearby towns as my first experiements. Last week my husband and I drove through rural areas of Kansas near looking for ghost towns.
I was most intrigued by Fitzgerald's description of Blaine, a small town in Pottawatomie County. Fitzgerald writes in his book: "Imagine, if you can, a completely deserted main street with tumbleweeds, worn-out rock business buildings crumbling in the sun, and grass covering the cracks in the sidewalks. ...[Blaine is] one of the most picturesque ghost towns in Kansas."
It eventually dissipated, but it made for a nice photo.
The first thing you see when you enter Blaine is the beautiful red brick St. Columbkille's church:
The building to the left used to be the private Catholic school, which closed down in 1958. Remember that white car on the bottom left, I'll mention it later.
To the immediate east of St Columbkille's church are two more red brick buildings. They both seemed occupied, although the one to the right -- difficult to see because of all the brush and trees -- was very run-down.
Just across from St. Columbkille's is the one business remaining in Blaine, an auto repair shop. There were several people there so I didn't disturb them by taking their picture.
It took a moment to find the town itself, which is on gravel roads to the south of the church and is difficult to see from the highway. The first thing I noticed was that it wasn't "picturesque" anymore, not by any stretch of the imagination. About two dozen residents still live there, and most of them must have had 5 to 10 broken-down cars each. The rusted old hulks littered their yards and streets. Oddly, a few cars (including the white car parked in front of the church) had "For Sale" signs. I don't know who they thought would see their car and buy it.
We drove through the whole town looking for that picturesque Main Street mentioned in Fitzgerald's book, and finally determined it doesn't exist, at least not in the way Fitzgerald described it. My husband started suffering an allergy attack so I took over the driving. I was glad to do so, because I was gung-ho, wanting to take this town by storm. My first find was an old shack on what I thought was just another road in Blaine.
Nothing special, really, until I looked down at the road under my feet:
Speaking of Main Street, I finally decided the gravel road that ran north-south -- you can see it above, it begins just about where the eastern end of the old highway ended -- had to be Main Street. There were only about four buildings that may have been businesses at one time, the remaining few appeared to be homes.
You can see a bit of what might have been sidewalk in front of the buildings. Honestly, I can't tell what these buildings may have been, but all the abandoned "ghost" buildings looked like old auto repair shops. What's with this town and cars, anyway?
At this point I noticed a guy driving around in the white car, the one in parked in front of the church. This older gentleman was obviously not pleased with outsiders, let alone outsiders taking pictures. He followed us a bit and then drove off and, as we already know, went back to the church, which had scheduled services that night.
...which made me conclude the street I was on was, indeed, Main. This is the best preserved area of the old Main Street sidewalk. You can see a building just off the road behind the sidewalk, but there was no way to get to it. I don't think it was a residence. Looks like another garage.
Blaine is north of Westmoreland in Northeast Kansas. It was never a large town, only about 250 people at the most. It's situated at the junction of KS Highways 16 & 99, and is very easy to get to.
The drive north on Highway 99 is not only beautiful, it's full of history. The highway crosses dozens of wagon ruts from the Oregon and Santa Fe trails (which you can read about here.) We noticed a weird little black cloud just ahead of us for most of the drive:
It used to be paved, and it's hard to tell by the photo, but remnants of a yellow double line could be seen under the gravel. The road was about a block long and ran east-to-west in front of the old shack. It ended abruptly at the eastern end, as shown, so I drove to the western end of the road, where it connected with Highway 99. That's when I realized the road used to be part of Highway 16. The highway is now re-routed about three blocks north and runs in front of the church. I haven't been able to determine why, although I suspect it happened when Blaine's main streets turned to gravel and were no longer fit to serve as the junction of two well-traveled highways.
I continued on, and discovered this:
This building was immediately to the left of the sidewalk. Again, it looks just like a garage. You couldn't see much inside except some big nasty pieces of metal hanging down from what remained of the roof; between the nasty metal and the angry resident, I wasn't about to go in.
This was, by far, the most interesting find. These stairs were in the middle of what's now a grassy lot. They're round concrete stairs, obviously for a building that faced the corner at an intersection on Main. The building is long gone, and I could see nothing under the 18-inch tall grass. This is the moment I realized that ghost town exploring was best done in the winter. Less allergies, mosquitoes, and overgrown brush.
This is the last old building I found, just off Main to the west. As you can see, it's a garage: Dave's Body Shop.
It was an interesting trip. This was the second "ghost town" I visited that day. Both were chosen because they were easy to find, and because of the information in the Fitzgerald book. In retrospect (and after doing a bit of research) I've concluded that Ghost Towns of Kansas and Faded Dreams are both more about the past history of former towns than anything else. There are no directions to the towns, no current pictures, and some of the descriptions are either wrong or woefully out of date. You'll see a clearer example of this in my next Kansas Ghost Town post: Louisville.