Things That Make Me Feel Old: Metal Ice Trays

This book mentioned one, and when I spoke to Heather about them, she didn’t know what I was talking about. So let me explain it to you damn kids the way it was in the days before plastic could survive the sub-32 degree temperatures of Frigidaires.

The ice cube trays were metal, with a louvre fixture atop of them. Essentially, the tray itself did not have separate compartments for the individual cubes, but the louvre blades made boundaries. You poured your water in and let it freeze. Once it was frozen, you operated this lever atop the louvre which caused the blades to shift back and forth, breaking the ice cubes apart and out of their tray.

None of this little plastic twists to pop individual cubes out. In the old days, when we wanted to drop ice in our scotch, we had to freakin’ operate machinery. Which is why we drank it straight, you damn malternative-suckers.

Book Report: The Brass Cupcake by John D. MacDonald (1950)

I bought this book for $2.00 from Hooked on Books in Springfield last weekend, and believe you me, they have the best selection of JDMcD’s paperback originals than any other store I’ve visited in the Midwest. They might have the best selection in the veritable United States (excluding Florida), but I would get ahead of myself with that pronouncement.

The Brass Cupcake represents the missing link between the Travis McGee novels and the pulps, although I’m not sure that such a link was ever missing. The writing style is grittier and punchier (not always a good thing) than I’m used to. Let’s face it, the Travis McGee books wax downright elegaic for Florida, but this book could have been set in Jersey for all the true local flavor it has.

The book details the story of an insurance company investigator named Cliff Bartells, a former police lieutenant who left the force because he wasn’t crooked enough to fit in and who now recovers stolen gems for a cut of their value (that sounds vaguely familiar…). When an old dowager with gems is bashed to death during a robbery, the dirty cops want to hang it on someone. Bartells, or someone to whom Bartells leads them, or some kid off the street. It won’t matter. Bartells finds himself between the syndicate and the corrupt cops and between the heiress and the possible accomplice. He’s got to set up a buy to get the gems back, without any additional lead accent pieces for himself.

Ultimately, the book disappointed me a little; as I mentioned, I found the two-fisted stylings a little choppy to read, and some characters blurred together when give only names and brief strokes. Also, the end didn’t hang right, like an ill-cut suitcoat draped over shoulders too thin to fill it. But it’s good to see the earliest works of MacDonald to watch him evolve.

Hey, since I’ve joined the Amazon Associates program, every time you order one of these books through my Web site, I get like a penny (for $3 shipping and handling). So if you’re intrigued, why not click through and get your own copy, since my copy is locked up until my estate sale:

Books mentioned in this review:

Man in the Gray Flannel Suit Review, 00:07:18

Gregory Peck is the 1950s Orlando Bloom. Gary Cooper could have beaten him half to death with his left hand, and Cary Grant could have given him a wedgie of a quip that would have sent him back home to momma and his sisters.

UPDATE 00:11:07 If he doesn’t manage that shrew of a wife of his, I’m going to invent a time machine that travels into fictional time, set it back to 1956 Connecticut, and I’m going to introduce Gregory Peck to a little thing called “Taser.” For the simple thrill of it.

UPDATE 00:12:10 Never mind, send back the divorce lawyers instead.

UPDATE 00:17:06 Funny how off-handedly Hollywood whacked America’s enemies (or recent enemies) in the 1950s. Now, of course, heroes cannot even look askew at potential enemies of the Republic.

British Librarians Disprove Value of American English Degree

Apparently, some British librarians have identified fifty books one should read before dying. I’ve listed the books below and have identified those I have read in bold and those I have on my to-read shelves in italics:

    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    The Bible
    The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien
    1984 by George Orwell
    A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
    All Quite [sic] on the Western Front by E M Remarque
    His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman
    Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
    The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
    The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
    Tess of the D’urbevilles by Thomas Hardy
    Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
    Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
    The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
    Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
    Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
    The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
    The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
    The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
    David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
    The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
    The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
    Life of Pi by Yann Martel
    Middlemarch by George Eliot
    The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
    A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
    A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzenhitsyn

Hey, it’s a meme! Everyone play!

Also, please note that should I get to a total of 49 of these books, I will not read the last, because that would indicate I am ready to die. Thank you, that is all.

Free Non-Profit Idea

Get in on the ground floor with your very own non-profit idea in a new agitation industry! You, too, can have jets, spacious hotel accommodations, audiences with kings, reporters, and senators, as well as a good salary paid by your donors while you can simply “educate,” raise funds, and not produce anything but enough money to cover your expenses and fundraising efforts.

To get into this lucrative industry, be the first on your block to be a:

CosmicEnviro Activist!

I got the idea from this post wherein Michael Williams talks about mining asteroids in space for big dollars. I mean, let’s face it, the idea has dangerous sides that can really make excellent bullet points in fundraising letters, such as:

  • Could destroy the cobalt industry in Zambia, driving that country into poverty.
  • Profit-oriented corporations will use asteroids as weapons to pulverize the competition (Did you notice that the bad guys in Niven and Pournelle’s Footfall were elephants? Do the math!)
  • Disruption of celestial bodies will ruin star charts and astrologies for everyone!

Hurry and establish your charity now while there’s no glut in the market! You’ll be able to use Since 2006 in your promotional material henceforth. And by the time the other usual suspects arise to protest, you’ll have the cachet–and the wealthy database of previous contributors!

It would be much funnier if I didn’t fear it’s satire today, semipowerful actual lobbying group tomorrow, and taking credit for the UN ban on space commerce two weeks from now.

Education Story of the Day

Overland Students Walk Out In Support Of Teacher.

You know it’s about that geography teacher who helped his students find Germany or the United States on a world map by comparing Bush to Hitler (both liked dogs! They are just the same!).

I don’t care about the story about its grassrootsification of students walking out of class–hell’s belles, today’s students know they won’t get punished for “political expression,” so they go on these little short-term field trips when the cafeteria is out of chocolate milk. No, I like a story that includes multiple implications for what’s wrong with our public education system (the teachers, the students, the administration, to name a few) that offers insight like this:

“I think he inspires so many students and he’s a great teacher,” one student said during the rally. “I mean he makes people do there work and he makes people care about things.”

If you don’t know what’s so pleasantly wrong with that, I’m not going to explain it to you. Ask your fellow alumni from Overland High School.

Jim Talent Outsources American Manufacturing

Sort of. I mean, action:

The Senate gave final approval Thursday to broad anti-methamphetamine provisions that will impose tight curbs on the sale of popular cold remedies used to make the highly addictive drug.

The long-stalled crackdown on cold medicine sales – initially opposed by retail and drug lobbyists – passed after months of intense negotiations with those industries over the scope of the new restrictions.

The measure, part of legislation reauthorizing the Patriot Act, has already passed in the House. The president is expected to sign it.


Missouri drug investigators say there are fewer makeshift labs churning out methamphetamine, but they also warn the state’s menacing meth problem might be taking a new direction – changing from small-time illegal operations to a fertile market for imported drugs.

Police say imported meth is starting to sneak into Missouri as area drug labs shut down. Just last month, seven Mexican citizens pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of conspiring to distributes large quantities of meth in southwestern Missouri. Police in the St. Louis area say they expect to see similar cases in the area as organized crime, particularly Mexican drug-trafficking groups, take over the local meth trade.

As a result of the Talent-Feinstein meddlings and the happy Federal determination that some states could not use common sense in their retailing of certain cold remedies and that all must abide by an asinine standard since Talent and Feinstein know better than individual legislatures, crank heads will still get their meth, but my wife will not be able to stock up on Claritin when it’s on sale.

Thank you, Senator Talent. Hopefully, this year we can send you on the next step of your career: lobbyist.

The New Battlestar: Galactica Miniseries Review, 5 Seconds Into the DVD

How modern; the premise of the original, where the Cylons where the mechanical spawn of an ancient race inimical to man (or, if one goes extra-textually to the actual broadcast of the original series, merely an ancient race inimical to man), has been replaced with the premise that man created the Cylons to serve man.

Kinda like America funded Saddam Hussein in the 1980s or any other variation on the Biblical theme that all the evils you face today are retribution for the sins of your fathers and so on.

Your honor, note that this person is a hostile witness (and a rabid partisan of the original series).

Man, I hope this improves after the expository stills.

Twenty-First Century Nuclear Family

All blowed up:

Some women have their book clubs, and others belong to professional groups. Some connect in therapy and others through sororities. But here is a relatively new connection: a group of 11 sharp, educated and independent women brought together on the Internet by one man’s sperm.

Not one of them has met the donor — his identity is kept secret by Fairfax Cryobank in Virginia. Known only as donor 401, he has fathered all of their children — 11 so far, and Leann Mischel, 41, a Pennsylvania college professor, has a second child by way of his sperm on the way.

“It’s an emotional connection. We have a common base,” explained Carla Schouten of San Jose, who adds that the women have less interest in knowing the donor than they do one another. “Most of us are single. We all desired children, and we were all attracted to the same donor.”

Perhaps these women hope for a future that looks a lot like Utah, but where men are only kept in barns to be milked when needed. However, more traditional people will outbreed these cretins and hopefully their fatherless children will grow up well-adjusted enough to be Republicans or Libertarians.

Were I this 401 guy, though, the thing I’d dread most is the possibility of getting on the hook for child support. It hasn’t happened, gentle reader, but that just means it hasn’t happened yet. One creatively-reasoned (i.e., made up) legal argument and one progressive judge is the narrow distance between the increasingly tenuous reality and settled law.

Book Report: Planning & Remodeling Family Rooms, Dens & Studios Sunset Books 1979

I bought this book for a dollar from Hooked on Books this weekend and sat down to mostly glance at its pictures. Of course, I’ve recently been considering family rooms, dens, and studios, not to mention some rathskellar basement bars, so I hoped to get some ideas from the book.

The book puts me in an odd place; although I remember rooms designed like this, I think it screams for James Lileks treatment on the rooms and color patterns and whatnot. The strangest bit, though, is the people. I can convince myself that some of these environments were warm and inviting and even “neat,” but not the haircuts and dress. Also, the remodeled rooms all feature neat places to hide your 19″ television and some of the more modern studies feature electric typewriters.