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Monday, September 30, 2013

Early Colour Film




If you never knew colour film existed this long ago, there's a reason.

The earliest movie film stock was made of cellulose nitrate. There were not many other materials that were feasible for film making. However cellulose nitrate had a couple horrifying drawbacks.
 
First, it was extremely volatile. If not stored under carefully controlled conditions, the film would deteriorate rapidly



Fact: 90% of all film before the late '40s is lost forever due to deterioration of their nitrate film .
If the film lamp was too hot, the entire reel would instantly burst into flames or even explode. And the fire/heat would ignite other film reels in the projection booth. This caused several theater fires.

So the early theater industry came up with a horrifying solution. Should the film catch fire (as sometimes did), some theaters had an automatic shut down mechanisms that would not only close the projector portholes, but also in some cases actually locked the projection booth door, incinerating the projectionist alive or suffocating him (it was usually men who were projectionists. Female projectionists were very rare) using them as a sacrifice to save the theater. Until safety film became standard in the 1950s, it was truly a dangerous job and only for the highly skilled.  

I volunteered as a projectionist at an old theater (and luckily, this was modern safety film I worked with) and I remember seeing the old portholes and the shut down doors above them. It truly is creepy. And those booths were HOT!



Sunday, September 29, 2013

Growing Up Skipper


She's two dolls in one.

You just moved her arm to make her an inch taller.....And her breasts grow.

Amazing what passed under the radar in the '70s...... 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Cooking With The Stars: Food Products Made By Pop Stars


Frank Sinatra was one of the world's greatest pop music singers. So when Ol' Blue Eyes decided to come out with his own line of spaghetti sauce, the world wildly licked it's chops. Sinatra has often told of his family's famous pasta sauce recipe (and with Sinatra's family hailing from Sicily, you KNEW it HAD to be absolutely DELICIOUS.) Unfortunately, the spaghetti sauce bearing his name was a commercially processed sauce not much better than the Classico or other mid-level sauces. While fairly good, it was a disappointment. And a look on the ingredients label indicated why. They had pretty much the same artificial and preservative ingredients as any other of these sauces.
The late Linda McCartney had a wonderful idea - make a line of convenient and healthy vegetarian food products that didn't taste like nuts and twigs, the biggest fear of any foodie. That's easier said than done. Because you have to remove things like meat and anything resembling flavour. And usually replace them with tofu and strange things like oats and mushrooms to give it some texture. Her line was available in America for a few years in the '90s, but was discontinued (I haven't seen it in years in most food co-ops). However, you can still find it in the UK. The Chili Non Carne was surprisingly good.

http://www.lindamccartneyfoods.co.uk/


Country singer Dwight Yoakam came out with a line of microwaveable snack foods called Take 'Ems. They also come in cheeseburgers and pork rib sandwich varieties and chicken fries and rings. I've tried some of them and I'm pretty impressed.

 http://www.bakersfieldbiscuits.com/products.html


Sammy Hagar's Cabo Wabo Tequila - I got a bottle of this a few Christmases ago. Pretty good stuff.

http://www.cabowabo.com/age-gate?url=/

Friday, September 27, 2013

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Chinese Import Video Camera Glasses: A Review

A week ago on a lark, I ordered a pair of Chinese made video sunglasses. They only cost $16.49 - including shipping on eBay.

So I ordered and it did arrive. Quickly...A couple days ago. I got a package from Shanghai. (These photos were taken on my Android tablet. Bear with me.)




 
Comes with carrying case, USB cord and lens cleaning cloth.

"I make these look good..."
The instruction booklet

This also uses a 2 to 32GB Micro SD card (not included.) I pulled a 2 GB card out of one of my old cell phones and reformatted it for use on this.

I was more or less expecting the worst. But they were surprisingly good for the price.

video


The video quality isn't 1080pi HD (but what were you expecting for $16.49?) But a hell of lot better than what you'd expect for that price. I've seen worse video from $200 cell phones.

The downside:

The video files they record are HUGE in pure AVI format (a little over 1 GB for a 15 minute video shoot) The video here took about 180 MB. So to upload onto the web, you'll need video compression software. I used FFConvert for Linux and converted it to a 27 MB MP4 file. But there are a number of these available depending on your operating system.

The lens is just above the bridge of your nose on these glasses. So you will need to keep your head slightly tilted down (don't shoegaze.) I deliberately aimed my head lower to keep as many faces as possible out of this video (which was shot at a library. I picked it to demonstrate average indoor lighting conditions.)   

The built in mic is extremely sensitive in video recording mode (it encodes in uncompressed PCM.) And if you're talking in a normal volume, you'll overmodulate (cause distortion.) So keep your voice very low when recording.

For straight audio MP3 recording (no video), they're very bad. They encode at 8kHz at 128kbps and sound extremely muffled.

I don't know the overall battery life because first, the instructions say the red LED light will stop flashing when fully charged. But after 24 hours of initial charging, it never stopped flashing. Plus as it takes 1 GB for 15 minutes of video and my micro SD card was only 2 GB, I'll have to buy a full 32 GB card to really find out.

The photos are also pretty bad. And the problem is you have to make a time.txt file in the root file of this for the automatic time stamp on the photos (the time reads in 24 hour UTC and not in standard AM/PM. I tried this in every configuration, but I could never get it to read correctly.) It always read as the default 2008/12/31 00:00:00 (give or take a few seconds)



While the photo and audio capabilities are downers, that's not the BEST feature of these glasses, which is the video recording capability. These glasses have quite a few uses. I wouldn't recommend them for recording concerts, namely because of the sensitive mic audio issues as well as the mysterious battery life. But for quick on the spot video recording of public events incognito, they're PERFECT.

Rating *** (3/5 stars)

You can buy them here:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/111137776719?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649

(This review was made uncompensated and totally independent, based only on my own experience. - Larry)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

Apple iPhone Prototype From The '80s?

In the early 1980s, Frog Design and Apple collaborated on this phone prototype with electronic check payment and a stylus for use on the monochrome screen.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Thighmaster


One of the most memorable infomercials of the '90s, starring babe-o-rama Suzanne Somers and her new gadget, the Thighmaster.


You can see she was having a great time with this thing. And so does her doctor. Hmmm......

During the height of this infomercial's popularity, Alice In Chains released their classic Dirt album. In the opening lyrics of the first single "Would?", everyone thought they said......

"Help me/I've broken my Thighmaster....."

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pussy Pop


Yes this was a REAL product. In 1981, the Pet Beverage Company of Covington, KY made this. It was allegedly chicken flavoured. However, cats are persnickety and most don't like carbonation.

(And just what were you thinking....Hmmm?.....)

R.U. A Cyberpunk? (1993)


Hard to believe an average smartphone in 2013 can do all this and more.....

http://io9.com/are-you-a-cyberpunk-this-early-1990s-poster-explains-i-1231691511

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hlchop!

Imagine Sixpence None The Richer's 1999 pop classic "Kiss Me"......

.....now imagine it.........sung in Klingon.

 

You're welcome.....

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Abandoned Radio Stations

Radio stations are a unique breed. Some of them sign on the air and gain instant success, some never amount to much. Or until they are bought and transformed by another entity. And there are those that just simply fall by the wayside.

Every major city has a few AM radio stations that were once popular 40-50 years ago that have gone through countless ownership/call letter/format changes and now languish as unknown ethnic, religious, Radio Disney, sports or fourth string talk formats. The intentions of the owners were good. A new and untried format. Or a stab at competing with the heritage local station with a different spin on their format. But somehow, fate had other plans.

Let's look at a few of those who somehow just fell apart and their remains still stand.......

WHOW 1520 AM Clinton, IL 

Probably the very best (and rare) example of a radio station that has gone to hell.....and BACK to tell about it.

Photo by Tim Messer -  http://photos.tmesser.com/v/radio/whow/
I don't know what the hell happened in here. But Casey Kasem never did it this way. Note the ashtray on the console and dig that Radio Shack mixing board .......

Please note the station had signed off in 2002, about the time these pictures were taken. Note the lack of computer equipment in the WHOW on-air studio. Virtually ALL radio stations in 2002 - including most of the smallest, had fully digital computer controlled automation by that time.) Not WHOW.

There is what appears to be an elderly computer mouse on top of that 1970's vintage automatic record changer you see in the first picture and it's quite possible all the computer equipment was taken out from it. But how many stations played their programming off cassette tapes in 2002? There a LOT of those you can see there, including cassette player - an ancient 1990s ghetto blaster! Most small stations like WHOW rarely, if ever played cassettes in 2002. It just wasn't a suitable quality medium for radio programming 

In fact, cassettes were rarely used in most commercial radio stations beyond recording news bites, occasional public service/religious programs (usually speech), and for DJs to record "airchecks" (a kind of live sampling of how they sound over the air to play for radio stations that hire them....or not., with all the music cut out and just the DJ's monologues and some commercials recorded.) Even THAT had gone to CD-Rs by the early 2000s in most parts of the country, as they were recorded onto hard disk and edited digitally by then.

Today, WHOW is back with modern facilities and runs a News/Talk format with an emphasis on farming news.

There's more....

WISL 1480 AM, Shamokin, PA

Photo by Jim Treese
There's an old gutted tape automation system back there and what appears to be a cart recorder deck and a reel to reel tape deck.


http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=82847&id=660789285&l=f9c85fd27a

WISL was an Oldies station in central Pennsylvania. It left the air in 2003 after it was sold to Clear Channel and a subsequent sale to another broadcaster who could not afford to keep the station on the air and the station's license expired in 2006. The station was officially deleted from the FCC database in 2008. However WISL remains online as a tribute internet radio station  - http://www.wisl1480.com/

KOME 1300 AM Tulsa, OK


Photos by Jim Hartz - Tulsa TV Memories http://www.flickr.com/photos/tulsatv/sets/72157621986456279/
KOME in Tulsa was off the air by 1965 (although the Stetson Hats poster in the studio here looks oddly '80s vintage), the KOME call letters were used a few years later for a rock station in San Jose, CA. However the remains of the KOME station building in Tulsa remain. AM 1300 in Tulsa is now KAKC, an all sports station.

WCHR 94.5 FM Trenton, NJ

WCHR is a religious radio station in Trenton, NJ which currently broadcasts on 920 AM.  WCHR originally broadcast on 94.5 FM. But left the FM dial in 1998 and after a number of call letter/format changes 94.5 is now WPST an Adult Contemporary radio station. This is the former WCHR station building.




KSVY 1550 AM, Opportunity, WA

Photo by Bill Harms
KSVY was an Oldies (later Classical) music station located in the Spokane suburb of Opportunity, WA. The photo above is the remains of the trailer that held their transmitter.

http://radiotowers.info/wa/spok/ksvy/ (You can hear samples of KSVY here.)

Here's the remains of one station in Alabama:

http://rural-ruin.livejournal.com/815925.html

More:



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Take 10 Minutes To Learn The Metric Way!


Ahhh......the metric system. To this day the US, Burma (Myanmar) and Liberia are the only nations in the world who have not formally adopted the metric system.

While the US has authorized the use of the metric system since 1866, outside of science and a few other places, it was largely ignored. In 1975, Congress authorized a ten year plan for national conversion. Which seemed like a good idea.  Canada and Mexico already adopted it

And PSAs like this began appearing. (I remember watching this - my elementary school teachers were (quite reluctantly) trying to teach it and I tried to explain it to my mom and how nearly every country in the world uses it and now the US was changing over. She rolled her eyes and said with deadpan sarcasm "Wow. And all this time, I thought we won the war.....")

Today you find some uses of the metric system. Namely this:

And along the borders for our Canadian and Mexican friends

Speed limit sign in Blaine, WA.....just a few meters over the border.......
 
 And virtually all retail food/drink and household products in America have both standard (or imperial) and metric measurements listed on their containers. Wine and spirit bottles are also metrically portioned. And it's ubiquitous in the illegal drug trade. Foreign imported bikes also use metric nuts and bolts (I found this out with my old Peugeot 10 speed.)

So what happened?

Simple, for the most part, we Americans resisted. In fact, the government gave up around 1982 and closed the metric conversion office when then President Reagan made the first sweeping wave of government cutbacks, ending all funding for a national conversion.

However there are still a few hopeful holdouts. But it's doubtful Americans will ever convert.   

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Oobi

It seemed like a cute idea....

Message on top "I'm Oobi. I contain a message to another human being. Please further my journey an inch, a foot, or a mile. Add a note, if you wish. Then help me to the next nice person like yourself!" 

A strange little toy came on the market in 1971.

A little plastic thing that looked like a giant M&M with eyes. It was for kids to transport written messages to each other using the kindness of strangers. The kids would write the address of their receiving friend on the bottom of an Oobi and leave it out anyplace someone would find it. And, assuming that person had nothing else to do, would presumably take it directly to the kid who was to receive it.
 

That was the idea at least behind the Oobi.

They were sold in packs of three, so they were probably weren't reuseable.



"oobi is a message center for conveying your written thoughts to other human beings. oobi has no home, no owner, but is forever going somewhere, on his way, in transit, never dying. oobi counts on the kindness of strangers to journey him towards his destination, but only the person to whom oobi is addressed may open him. When he is finally broken open, it is only to free oobi's spirit.
          You may buy oobi, but you never "own" oobi. You buy oobi to make him free.

oobi is love"


Parents however weren't as nice to Oobi. And this weirdo hippie 'love' babble only made them extremely nervous (or seriously pissed them off.) And you can't really blame them. They had every reason in the world not to like them. Even in that more innocent age, the very last thing you want is some pervert or creep knowing you and your child's address. The slits that held the notes were also big enough and useful for making your kids unsuspecting drug mules as well. So cops were naturally suspicious of these things as well.

It was the biggest toy failure in Parker Brother's history. And they were off the shelves within months.....

More on the Oobi here:

http://www.deuceofclubs.com/oobi/index.html

Thursday, September 12, 2013

One Weird Trick







Have you ever spotted these web ads and asked yourself "Who do these people think they're fooling?"

"One Weird Trick"....or some variant in ads for everything from mortgage reduction to testosterone building. Nothing screams SCAM louder.

They began appearing around 2008. And became ubiquitous by 2010.

In copy writing, one major no-no is overused superlatives. The reason is simple - They get old. And cliche.

And apparently, I'm not the only one who notices it. 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-09/just-1-weird-trick-to-get-you-to-read-this-article.html