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October 16, 2005

"Girls who 'park' in cars are not really popular"

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The line above appeared in Ted Peshak's classic 1947 film, "Are You Popular?"

Peshak, one of the most widely–viewed film directors in the world, died last Sunday in Lake Forest, Illinois at the age of 87.

How come you can't recall ever hearing of either the film or its director?

Perhaps because his movies were of the "Mental Hygiene" genre, shown in schools in the 1940s, 50s and 60s to generations of American children to help them avoid temptation and become better citizens.

And look at the result: you're here reading this.

Oh, well — back to the drawing board.

But I digress.

Peshak served in the Army Signal Corps during World War II and following the war joined Coronet Instructional Films.

The company's aim, according to Adam Bernstein's obituary in yesterday's Washington Post, was to "tame post–war youth with themes of acceptable social values and behavior."

Ginny, who uttered the immortal words comprising this post's headlines, was an archetype of the ideal American girl.

Peshak's first film was "Shy Guy" (1947); he followed that smash debut up with "How Do You Know It's Love?" (1950), "How Billy Keeps Clean" (1951), and "Choosing Your Marriage Partner" (1952).

At the peak of his career with Coronet, where he directed some 350 educational films, Peshak made $190 a week.

He told Ken Smith, author of the 1999 book "Mental Hygiene: Classroom Films, 1945–1970," "Mental hygiene films boiled down to a compromise between real life and life as it ought to be."

Here's a link to a more intimate obituary from his hometown Lake Forester Pioneer Press.

FunFacts: Among the participants (before they got big) in Peshak's films were Mike Wallace as a stentorian–voiced narrator and Dick York, who played the lead opposite Ginny in "Are You Popular?"

York went on to play the husband of Elizabeth Montgomery's Samantha the Witch in the superb TV series, "Bewitched."

October 16, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Johnny Apple Sandal

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This sandal has indentations in the sole that pick up seeds and then drop them along your path.

Created by LIFT Design of San Francisco.

Alas, it's still in beta and has yet to find a manufacturer.

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In the meantime with an awl or screwdriver you could make your own.

October 16, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Isabelle Huppert comes to America: 'The Ice Queen Shatters'

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So reads the headline above Ginia Bellafante's story in today's New York Times about the upcoming New York theatrical debut of the great French star of stage and screen in Sarah Kane's play, "4:48 Psychosis."

Huppert, now 50, made her film debut at 16 in "Faustine et le Bel Été" and has appeared in over 70 movies.

Less well known in this country is that she regularly appears onstage in France.

Kane's play was written in English and was translated into French for Huppert's role in the Paris production (above), directed by Claude Régy.

Joseph V. Melillo, executive director of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (where the play opens this Wednesday, October 19 and runs through Sunday, October 30), saw the French production and decided to bring it to the U.S. in French, with the same actress and director.

And so it will be performed, with minimal supertitles.

The play is especially profound because its author committed suicide in 1999 at the age of 28 a few months after she had completed it.

One of the last lines of the play is, "I have no desire for death, no suicide ever had."

I know this to be true — as well as any person alive, dead, or yet to be born.

October 16, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Pocket Wind Tunnel

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Your own private anemometer.

Slide it onto the portable Skymate (below) to get precise wind speed measurements anywhere, anytime.

Measures from 0.5 to 89 mph in your choice of six different scales:

• Knots

• Km/h

• Meters/sec

• mph

• Feet/min

• Beaufort

The wind tunnel measures 4.75"H x 2.25"W and costs $22.95 here.

The Skymate mounting/reading device is itself a tricked–out piece of kit:

• Built–in impeller to measure wind speed

• Threaded for tripods

• High–visiblity, shockproof case that floats

• Water–resistant to 3'

• Thermometer

• Wind–chill meter

Requires one button–button cell battery (included).

Measures 5.5"H x 1.9"W.

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$89.95 here.

October 16, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Chemistry — by Kay Ryan

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Words especially
are subject to
the chemistry
of death: it is
an acid bath
which dissolves
or doubles
their strength.
Sentiments
which pleased
drift down
as sediment;
iron trees
grow from filament.
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October 16, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Construction Calculators

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James and Morris Carey wrote a nice article about the new breed of calculators that are supposed to make things easier for both do–it–yourselfers and pros.

They offer good suggestions in their piece on how to decide which of the many types of such machines is best–suited for you.

At the end of their review they offer some useful direct links to various websites featuring different versions.

Long story short: these calculators do stuff like add 3⅝ + 2¼ = 5⅞.

I don't think I'll get one, though; I still kind of like doing the math myself.

October 16, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Things that make me go 'huh?'

Kujhkh

This is a feel–good post for all those joeheads out there who — like me — haven't a clue about most things computer–related except that somehow we use these devices and find them indispensable to our everyday well–being.

Welcome, campers.

Here are things I haven't a clue about how to use/what they mean:

• BitTorrent

• Toolbars

• RSS/syndication

• podcasts

• Photoshop

• Bookmarklets

• Trackbacks

• Tags

The great thing is that every time I confess my stupidity re: things technical, readers flood me with email chiding me for lying.

Ah, isn't it the case that the truth is always so much more difficult to believe than an alternative?

I knew it: you point out that I made a podcast, for cryin' out loud: doesn't that show I'm poormouthing myself?

No.

Because Kent Bottles, who invited me to make the podcast in question, gave me these instructions:

1) Call a toll-free number

2) Punch in a numerical code

3) Start talking when he said "talk"

Doh!

Even I could do that.

But that doesn't mean I have a clue about how to actually create a podcast or how to listen to one on an iPod.

So there.

Don't worry about being dumb — it's the only way to fly.

Certainly better than Flyi.

October 16, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Zig Zag Perpetual Calendar

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Move the top bar to align the day with the date.

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Put the red peg in the hole for the month.

$35 here.

October 16, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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