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J.D. Salinger 1919 - 2010

Posted by Whitmore, January 29, 2010 10:55am | Post a Comment
Every obituary for J.D. Salinger, who died yesterday at the age of 91, will inevitably mention that he was a celebrated author and an enigmatic recluse who detested the spotlight. He was the Garbo of letters so too J.D. Salinger obituaryspeak, whose first novel, The Catcher in the Rye, published in 1951, is an anthem of adolescent angst and youthful rebellion, and in the 1980’s a couple of sociopathic assholes claimed they read something into the book that doesn’t exist, which drove their actions. A few obits might also mention that Salinger was a big fan of Ring Lardner and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Alfred Hitchcock, W.C. Fields, the Marx Brothers and even psychic Edgar Cayce. But Salinger lives. His novels' popularity obviously endures today. His books continue to sell, Catcher alone sells more than 250,000 copies a year in paperback, as do his other books, Nine Stories, and two compilations, and possibly his very best writing, about the fictional Glass family-- Franny and Zooey and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction.
 
As for me, here's something I'll add, Salinger wrote one of my all time favorite lines, I ate it up as a kid and even memorized it: “If you had a million years to do it in, you couldn't rub out even half the 'Fuck you' signs in the world. It's impossible.”
 
Here are some other quotes from J.D. Salinger:
 
 “I hope to hell that when I do die somebody has the sense to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody.”
 
“I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It's awful. If I'm on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I'm going, I'm liable to say I'm going to the opera. It's terrible.”
 
“All morons hate it when you call them a moron.”
 
“If a girl looks swell when she meets you, who gives a damn if she's late? Nobody.”
 
“Among other things, you'll find that you're not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior.”
 
“Goddam money. It always ends up making you blue as hell.”
 
“I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff—I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all.”
 
“Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”
 The Catcher in the Rye
“Grand. There's a word I really hate. It's a phoney. I could puke every time I hear it.”
 
“I'm sick of just liking people. I wish to God I could meet somebody I could respect.”
 
“It's funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they'll do practically anything you want them to.”
 
“It was a very stupid thing to do, I'll admit, but I hardly didn't even know I was doing it.”
 
“You take somebody that cries their goddam eyes out over phoney stuff in the movies, and nine times out of ten they're mean bastards at heart.”
 
“It was that kind of a crazy afternoon, terrifically cold, and no sun out or anything, and you felt like you were disappearing every time you crossed a road.”
 
“Almost every time somebody gives me a present, it ends up making me sad.”
 
“In my mind, I'm probably the biggest sex maniac you ever saw.”
“Sex is something I really don't understand too hot. You never know where the hell you are. I keep making up these sex rules for myself, and then I break them right away. Last year I made a rule that I was going to quit horsing around with girls that, deep down, gave me a pain in the ass. I broke it, though, the same week I made it -- the same night, as a matter of fact.”
 
“People always clap for the wrong things.”
 J.D. Sakinger cover of Time
“I felt like jumping out the window. I probably would've, too, if I'd been sure somebody'd cover me up as soon as I landed. I didn't want a bunch of stupid rubbernecks looking at me when I was all gory.”
 
“It's no fun to be yellow. Maybe I'm not all yellow. I don't know. I think maybe I'm just partly yellow and partly the type that doesn't give much of a damn if they lose their gloves.”
 
“Catholics are always trying to find out if you're Catholic.”
 
“Take most people, they're crazy about cars. They worry if they get a little scratch on them, and they're always talking about how many miles they get to a gallon, and if they get a brand-new car already they start thinking about trading it in for one that's even newer. I don't even like old cars. I mean they don't even interest me. I'd rather have a goddam horse. A horse is at least human, for God's sake.”
 
‘Anyway, I'm sort of glad they've got the atomic bomb invented. If there's ever another war, I'm going to sit right the hell on top of it. I'll volunteer for it, I swear to God I will.
It's funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they'll do practically anything you want them to.”
 
‘That's the nice thing about carousels, they always play the same songs.”

Bubble Wrap® Appreciation Day

Posted by Whitmore, January 25, 2010 10:05pm | Post a Comment
Bubble Wrap® Appreciation Day
The who’s who of calendar demarcations, Chase’s Calendar of Events, has designated the last Monday of January, today, as Bubble Wrap® Appreciation Day. (And of course do not forget, bubble wrap is trademarked, so just try and name your band Bubble Wrap ... see where it lands you!) Since its invention in 1960, Bubble Wrap® brand cushioning material has been used by and has entertained kids of all ages, from two to one hundred and two!
 
According to legend, the birth of Bubble Wrap® took place in a garage in Hawthorne, NJ. Of course, isn’t stuff like this always invented in a garage and in Jersey? Two engineers, Marc Chavannes and Al Fielding, were trying to make plastic wallpaper with a paper backing, something, no doubt, that would compliment the Bubble Wrap® Appreciation Daypopular trend of the day, popcorn ceilings. They failed miserably. But in a moment of pure unadulterated genius, with just a hint of desperation, they turned their attention towards a new direction: Packaging. Yes, the future was in plastic, plastic packaging. Their invention would be perfect for cushioning all sorts of products when shipping. At that time, only abrasive paper products were used for packaging, which were often insufficient for heavy or delicate items. They founded Sealed Air Corporation soon after, and today Sealed Air is a leading global manufacturer of a wide range of food and protective packaging materials and systems with annual revenues in excess of four billion dollars.
 
How is Bubble Wrap® packaging made? The process is a trade secret. But some details are available at the Bubble Wrap® website. “Bubble Wrap® cushioning starts as polyethylene (plastic) resin, in the form of beads about the size of small peas (just not as green). The beads go into an extruder -- a long cylinder with a screw inside that runs its entire length. As the screw is turned, heat builds up and the resin melts into a liquid that is squeezed out of the cylinder into two stacked sheets of clear plastic film. One layer of the film is wrapped aroBubble Wrap® Appreciation Dayund a drum with holes punched in it, and suction is applied, drawing one web of film into the holes that form the bubbles. The second layer of film is then laminated over the first so that when the two films are joined, they stick together and trap the air in the bubbles.”
 
And this all may sound easy, but polyethylene is a very porous, sponge-like material. Because air can easily leak out through the pores, which tends to limit the cushioning ability of the packaging, Sealed Air started using a Saran coating to seal the air in the bubbles. Eventually, a method -- the secret method -- of encapsulating an air retention barrier in the polyethylene during the extrusion process was developed.
 
So enjoy Bubble Wrap® Appreciation Day. I’ve been hearing popping all over the city today. Pop away citizens, pop away!

Django Reinhardt

Posted by Whitmore, January 23, 2010 08:41pm | Post a Comment
Django Reinhardt 100th birthday
Legendary Jazz guitarist  Django Reinhardt was born 100 years ago today, the 23rd of January, 1910.

From the Gypsy camps where he learned to play to his Quintette du Hot Club de France fame in the Parisian jazz scene, the man’s style has probably been ripped off more times than any other guitarist of the 20th century. His playing was joyous, often wild, always expressive and lyrical. His legend was sealed way before his early death from a brain hemorrhage at the age of 43.django100th birthday
 
The most amazing story about Reinhardt is, of course, how at the age 18 he was caught in a caravan fire that left his left hand partially paralyzed. As the story goes, one night on his way to bed he knocked over a lit candle, it hit the floor, catching some artificial flowers made off celluloid and paper on fire. Everything, caravan and all instantly burst into flames. His injuries, from trying to save his pregnant first wife, Florine "Bella" Mayer, were severe. The entire right side of his body was badly burned, especially his leg, which doctors intended to amputate. His left hand, his fretting hand, was also horribly burned. Reinhardt would spend over a year in and out of hospitals. He was never expected to play again, but his brother bought him a new guitar, urging him to give it a try. With only the index and middle fingers on his left/fret hand for soloing, and his two twisted fingers for simple chord work, he re-invented his own technique.
 
Happy Birthday Django Reinhardt!



Art Clokey 1921 - 2010

Posted by Whitmore, January 12, 2010 08:31am | Post a Comment
Art Clokey
Art Clokey
, the animator who created Gumby and Davey and Goliath, both coming into being by way of stop motion clay animation, died this last weekend at his home in Los Osos, California. He was 88.
 
Fashioned from a little green slab of clay, Gumby made his television debut in 1956 on The Howdy Doody Show. The following year The Gumby Show premiered. Along with his constant pony pal and sidekick Pokey, together they rambled though what could best be described as a series of gentle but weird LSD trips. Their colorful adventures against a toy strewn landscape often included Gumby's pestering nemseses, The Blockheads. (According to his son, Clokey did try LSD once, but under medical supervision and years after he created Gumby. I like to think he tripped with Cary Grant and Steve Allen.)Gumby and Pokey
 
Though the initial show was short-lived, Gumby enjoyed a comeback in 1961 running through 1968, then again in the 1980s and once again in the 1995 feature film, Gumby: The Movie, also directed by Art Clokey. Eventually 233 episodes were produced. Davey and Goliath, which ran in the 1960’s and 70’s, had over 300 episodes underwritten by the Lutheran Church of America.
 
Born as Arthur Charles Farrington in Detroit on Oct. 12, 1921, he lived with his father after his parents divorced. But at age nine Art’s father was killed in an automobile accident and instead of rejoining his mother, he was placed in an orphanage near Hollywood. Art was adopted sometime later by Joseph Waddell Clokey, an established composer and music professor at Pomona College in Claremont.
 
Art Clokey earned a bachelor’s degree from Miami University in Ohio and later attended Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, intent on becoming an Episcopal priest. He left soon after and entered the University of Southern California, where he studied film with Slavko Vorkapich, a pioneer in modern montage techniques. In 1955, Clokey made a student film, Gumbasia, with animated clay shapes gyrating to a jazz score. The film was the inspiration for the later television series. (The film is included on the DVD Gumby Essentials, released in 2007 by Classic Media.)
 
In 2006 Art Clokey was the subject of a documentary film, Gumby Dharma.
 
Art Clokey’s first marriage, to Ruth Parkander ended in divorce. His second wife, Gloria, died in 1998. He is survived by his son, Joe, a stepdaughter, Holly Harman, and three grandchildren. Another daughter, Ann, died in 1974.

Webster's New World Word of the Year for 2009

Posted by Whitmore, January 11, 2010 09:40pm | Post a Comment
Dictionaries are as competitive as any cross-town sports rivalry. I suspect there are fewer incidents of stealing mascots, but the urge to kick your opponent’s ass from one goalpost to the other is eternal. The Word of the Year is a nasty, ego driven business. It’s ruthless. Not quite a bloodsport -- less cockfighting, fewer carcasses -- but intense none the less. Anyway, Part One is here and Part Two is there. Now, Part three -Webster's New World Dictionaries 2009 Word of the Year- Webster’s New World® College Dictionary Word of the Year for 2009 is actually a phrase, but somehow the word gods allowed its selection.
 
Drum roll please!
 
The Word of the Year is: Distracted Driving.
 
So to get into the word-groove of Webster’s New World’s 2009 pick, I’m writing this in traffic as I drive. Drove right by one motorcycle cop already, he never saw my magic thumbs in action. Oh oh!... close call, almost side-swiped the 181 bus on Hollywood Blvd ... OK, now I’m at a red light ... anyway -- I’m blogging this on my Blackberry driving to Amoeba for yet another day in the Lair of the 45’s ... left down Vine Ave, I see the chess playing guy is back in front of the Montalban Theater ... right on Sunset, maybe, one of these days ... some people take their sweet ass time crossing the street. Wow, one of LA’s finest just gave me a dirty look but kept on going ... now I’m pulling into the parking garage ... Damnit! Dropped the phone under my seat for a second, its not easy making that sharp right turn  ... anyway ... word of the year ... actually just a minute, just remembered -- CrackBerry, a mocking term for 'addictive' BlackBerry use was Webster's Word of the Year back in 2006 ... anyway, almost finished here ... looking for parkin ... Oops! not good ...
 
Distracted Driving is defined as another consequence of what many are guilty of, using digital devices on the go and not paying attention to what they need to be paying attention too, like driving and where they are going and whether or not other people driving might be heading for that same exact, finite location simultaneously. The term is said to be entering the lexicon of lawyers and barristers around the world. Webster calls distracted driving a "sign of the times" and a natural corollary of our ongoing love affair with all things digital and mobile, slick and shiny. The New Oxford American Dictionary also had a word for a similar condition -- intexticated: “distraction caused by texting on a cellphone while driving a vehicle.” Webster likes to point out that distracted driving is actually a crime in many places around the world, but here in the good ol’ U.S. of A., I believe it’s only a national state of mind.
 
Runners-ups for 2009 Word of the Year at Webster’s New World were:
 
cloud computing: Computer operations in which documents and data are created, edited, and stored remotely on servers and accessed by the user via an Internet connection (this term is so well established that it will likely be added to the annual update of the College Dictionary in 2010).
 
wallet biopsy: Applies mostly to health care and the means of investigating before medical service is provided, of a patient’s ability to pay, enabling the health care provider to decide whether free or discounted medical care is appropriate; a term fueled in part by the debate on national health care reform.
 
By the way, the 2008 Webster’s New World Word of the Year was -- overshare (verb), “divulging excessive personal information, as in a blog or broadcast interview, prompting reactions ranging from alarmed discomfort to approval.”

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