Archive for December, 2012

Value, in the Eye of the Beholder

It’s kind of sad, if you stop and think about it, how much history is getting destroyed these days. I’m not talking about the fad of “upcycling”, wherein all too often perfectly serviceable antiques, or at least things that are old, get – if we’re honest – ruined and turned into… uninspired objets d’art, and then listed for sale on Etsy in the hopes that there really is a sucker born every minute. (I kid. But only slightly.)

No, what really depresses me is how much history is being destroyed, these days, because of inflated precious-metal prices. Grandma’s gold wedding ring? Melt it down! Uncle Bobby’s Air Force wings, in sterling silver? Melt ‘em down! Those old salt cellars sitting in the cabinet? Melt ‘em down!

Artistic value? Historical value? Sentimental value? All subservient to the intrinsic value. Nobody cares about anything except the weight, anymore. Which is a bad thing, because as precious-metal prices have increased several-fold in the last decade or so, the market value of most old jewelry, silverware, and so on has not increased accordingly, so that a really huge number of artifacts from the last two-hundred years are worth, in many instances, the same or even less to collectors than to precious-metal refiners, which is not a terribly enviable situation, if you care about history.
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Published in: Geekiness, History | on December 31st, 2012 | 1 Comment »

Thomas Jefferson’s Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese. The name, in much of the world, conjures up a familiar image of elbow macaroni in a yellow, cheddar-y sauce. According to Wikipedia, the English-speaking world’s love of the gooey stuff owes much to President Jefferson, who encountered the dish in France in the late 1700s, and became enamored of it.

The Wikipedia article points out a recipe for macaroni and cheese in an influential 1824 cookbook, and it’s quite a simple one, at that: Macaroni, cheese, and butter.

Guess what? That’s not the original recipe for mac and cheese, as we know it. It’s almost certainly not the recipe that Jefferson enjoyed at the White House.
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Published in: Geekiness, History | on December 10th, 2012 | 3 Comments »

Untitled Bit of Link-Heavy Self-Serving Nonsense

No count has yet been made of the number of movie patrons who went to see The Seventh Veil in fond expectation that it would combine the most salient features of Salome and Minsky. It didn’t, of course: the veil that was lifted concealed only actress Ann Todd‘s innermost thoughts.
A more pertinent estimate made recently, however, indicates what producers have long suspected—that one-fourth of all movie-goers select their entertainment solely on the appeal of a film’s title. High-powered publicity, star casts, critics’ reviews and personal recommendations mean nothing to this phlegmatic 25 per cent. If the title “sounds pretty good”, they will pay their money without further ado.
Any businessman will tell you that 25 per cent is a figure to be treated with respect. In the move industry, it often means the difference between red ink and black. Small wonder that some of Hollywood’s highest-paid brains labor mightily over movie titles—occasionally bringing forth a mouse.
Twentieth Century-Fox had a sad experience when it first released Bob, Son of Battle, from the book of the same name. This was at a time when war stories were fast loving favor and movie-goers mistook it for a picture about the war. The thousands of dollars already spent to publicize the title had to be written off, and the opus—about a dog—relabeled Thunder in the Valley, a phrase which suggested intense conflict in a satisfactorily vague fashion.

Do not adjust your Internet. Yes, this gossip, though interesting, is slightly dated. It may still be somewhat relevant, however…
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Published in: General | on December 1st, 2012 | No Comments »