To the plastic mattresses.

Who or what is responsible for museum sleepovers? “Night at the Museum” — inspirational children’s fantasy film or threat to maternal lumbar health? Yeah, whatever. That’s where I was this weekend. At the Henry Ford/Greenfield Village complex.

Remind me to never do it again. There’s nothing wrong with the idea, but the execution’s all wrong. The root problem is, when you put 30 fifth-grade girls together on a warm Saturday with 24 hours of fun activities ahead of them, they get a little excited. So what’s the first rule? No running, no loud voices, no this, no that, no no no. This casts all the chaperones in the role of Joseph Stalin, a familiar one for the modern parent, but not a comfortable one. I had five girls in my mini-group, and all I did was nag. Knock it off, cut it out, don’t make me tell you again.

At some point, there’s a good argument to be made for just turning them out, like yearling fillies. Let them run around the pasture kicking up their heels before you try to teach them anything.

This was my first trip to Dearborn’s big attraction, and between bouts of arm-twisting, I could see why it’s so popular — it really is a fine museum, dedicated to the American experience, particularly in Ford’s lifetime, probably a subject beyond the appreciation of most fifth-graders. Not mine, however. It’s hard to look at some of the exhibits there and at Greenfield Village — Thomas Edison’s workshop, Henry’s Model T, the Wright Brothers’ bike shop — and not be impressed. Here’s Orville Wright in the dunes at Kitty Hawk and he faces the wind in his strange contraption, then cables home to dad: “Inform press.” Henry’s great idea, the assembly line, drops the price of a car by more than 60 percent and his factories create the American middle class.

I wanted more of the dark side, though. These 20th-century titans were as much defined by their flaws as their virtues (as all of us are). There’s a whole section on the civil-rights movement — including Rosa Parks’ bus — but nothing on the Dearborn Independent (that I saw, anyway, and admittedly I didn’t see every part of the place). It would be a tricky exhibit to put together, but I don’t know why someone shouldn’t try.

Day two, spent outdoors at Greenfield Village, was better. Sleep deprivation sapped everyone’s horsing-around energy, so other than having to smack down the incessant blowing of the Weinermobile whistles, we had a nice time. Ran into an avid cyclist in the Wright Brothers’ bike shop, who pointed out the slot in the actual W.B. bike seat in the window. The slotted seat was recently revived for modern cyclists, and is said to relieve a whole set of nasty symptoms, including the dreaded Cyclist’s E.D. And yet, all anybody wants to credit them with is that dumb flying thing.

I left early, however, and ran off to the Detroit Film Center to take a half-day class in lighting. I don’t expect to use it for anything other than appreciating movies, but I learned a thing or two, including:

* Many of the old Hollywood babes had lighting issues written into their contracts, usually specific clauses saying they had to be lit X thousand foot-candles brighter than anyone else. Because they’re stars, dammit, and stars shine.

* No one in showbiz is as bugged by “Hollywood rain” as I am. This is the artificial rain created by sprinklers, usually on sparkling Los Angeles days, so you get the incongruous shot of the stars embracing in a downpour, casting sharp shadows through rainbow sparkles. This is just what rain is, in the movies. Deal.

* Directors of photography carry a bag of tricks that require trucks to haul around, so if you looked in the mirror this morning and didn’t see Kim Basinger looking back, don’t feel bad. Neither did she.

* SunPATH, sun-tracking software, is a sextant in reverse. Instead of using the sun to find your position on earth, you use your position on earth to find the sun.

* Gordon Willis loves wet gutters. The teacher worked with him on “Presumed Innocent,” and said he had a standing order that in all street scenes, the gutters be wet. Crew guys walked around with tanks on their backs, keeping them nice and puddly. They give the scene depth, he said, a nice delineation between sidewalk and street.

Oh, and I also learned the difference between a gaffer and a key grip. But I consider it my secret.

Bloggage? Oh, let’s leave that to you folks. Anyone see “Expelled” this weekend?

Posted at 10:33 am in Movies, Same ol' same ol' |

53 responses to “To the plastic mattresses.”

  1. Laura said on April 21, 2008 at 10:52 am

    I worked for the COSI (Center of Science and Industry for you non-central Ohioans) Camp-in program while I was in college. They had alternating teams working every other weekend from 4 p.m. Friday to noon Sunday. Talk about sleep deprivation. I’d get home and nap for six hours or so. While at work, we would amuse ourselves by speculating on which of these sweet young kids would become a teen mom, a drifter, etc.

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  2. nancy said on April 21, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Mine was surely voted “Most Likely to Grow Up Resenting Her Mother.”

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  3. sue said on April 21, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Our middle school used to have a “read-a-thon” for the seventh graders, which was basically a lock in activity night. It was great – every seventh grade teacher participated, the principal too, and dozens of parents, all in shifts so that the adults could go home and sleep, and save their backs. There were three sets of rotations for the kids, lots and lots of snack time, and finally the settling-down time (well after midnight) for the kids to read or sleep (the kids came in their pajamas). The rotations were all reading-based but out there, for instance a “beat cafe” where the kids put on black berets, drank (decaffeinated) coffee and made up poetry based on beat poets, then had to read it at the microphone with a straight face (no one made it through a poem without laughing). The kids got to sign up for a class in each rotation, and pick alternate choices, so they had three chances of getting their favorite. The parent volunteers had lots of time to socialize as well, since the kids were so scheduled. I taught a class in botanic Latin – it sounds more impressive than it was; we just learned the names and pronunciations of the plants we used to make potpourri and scented water, etc., and matched some of the names to everyday language. The thing I found most fascinating was that in every one of my three classes (limited to 10 kids each), for every year I did it, there were at least two boys who had figured out that this class was where the chicks were. They were not there for the scented water, that’s for sure. I seldom enjoyed myself so much on a school outing. The read-a-thon isn’t done anymore; I assume budget cuts and/or insurance issues.

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  4. Peter said on April 21, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Nancy, that was your first time there? Holy shit, I’ve taken my son there three times and I’m in Chicago. The kid just can’t get enough of that place – and we’ve always gone in the dead of winter so we haven’t been to the village.

    Is the dymaxion house still there? That was way cool.

    That being said, I was really disappointed that the windows on Rosa Park’s bus don’t open – I really wanted to do the Honeymooner’s pub shot where Ralph leans out the driver’s window and motions to Trixie, Ed, and Alice in the back, but I couldn’t do it.

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  5. MichaelG said on April 21, 2008 at 11:26 am

    When I’m with my grandson I make a conscious effort to say “yes” as much as I can which is 99% of the time. I feel badly about all the “noes” I said to his mom.

    I’ve never looked in the mirror in the morning and seen Kim Basinger but then I never cared for her. I have, however, been priveleged to see numerous other lovely morning faces over the years.

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  6. brian stouder said on April 21, 2008 at 11:37 am

    A few weeks ago, I volunteered to chaperone with our daughter’s upcoming day-trip to the Indianapolis Children’s Mueseum – and didn’t make the cut! They already had enough volunteers, but they DID need a volunteer for the overnight at the YMCA camp at the lake…..

    The way I figure it, the next time there’s some plum-assignment (day trips! Bah!!) I’ve got some stripes, now!

    (PS – I will say – ‘our’ group of boys had mostly simmered down and gone to sleep by about 10:30 pm*, while we could easily hear all sorts of commotion from the other groups up to midnight….so that was a moral victory, of sorts)

    *the young fellows had begun to good naturedly mimic my all-purpose refrain of “Young fellows, let’s calm down” before the end of the expedition

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  7. nancy said on April 21, 2008 at 11:38 am

    I thought the Dymaxion house was a fascinating study in design as a way to demonstrate Buckminster Fuller’s inherent superiority over lesser human beings, but would I want to live there? Um. No.

    The accompanying video showed how the single family who bought one adapted it to their needs. Basically, they built a regular house adjoining it.

    I know you’re an architect, Peter, and I appreciate architecture, but this goes back to our mini-tiff over Michael Graves’ Snyderman house. On paper, wow. In photos, wow. Actually living under its roof? Not so wow.

    I did like the details of the design, however — the central mast that held the thing up and worked as a ventilation shaft, the hidden rain gutters, the built-ins, etc. I just don’t know if I’d like living in a stainless-steel yurt with walls that don’t go all the way up.

    A colleague of mine in Fort Wayne had a Lustron house. That seemed to address many of the problems Fuller was trying to solve, but in a less radical way. They hang their pictures with magnets, and once a year go over everything with a bottle of refrigerator touch-up paint.

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  8. Connie said on April 21, 2008 at 11:53 am

    My parents chaperoned my younger brother’s marching band trip to Florida. My mother described it as a miserable experience. At our house the Dad has always done that stuff. Ropes course with the fifth graders, Fort Wayne Zoo with the eighth graders, and I am thankful for him.

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  9. Jolene said on April 21, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Not being a parent, I haven’t had any of these chaperoning experiences, but some of them sound like fun. I’d definitely be up for the read-a-thon.

    The lighting course sounds very cool. I’d like to know more about how movies are made. I’m always curious about how the members of the academy decide things like who should get the Oscar for film editing. I mean, how do they know what choices were made? They don’t know what ended up on the cutting-room floor, do they? What are they looking for? What is it that impresses them?

    I guess I could listen to href=”″>this interview with Thelma Schoonmaker, Scorsese’s film editor and the winner of at least a couple Oscars, and find the answers, but would be interested to hear what you all would see in a movie that would make you say, “Wow, great editing!”

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  10. sue said on April 21, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Brian: re “young fellows”. I always called the kids “dear ones”, as in “Come on, dear ones, out of the tree/lake/restricted access area”.

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  11. Jolene said on April 21, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    On chaperoning, from a kid’s perspective, my parents chaperoned my high school class trip, and I was proud of them for doing it. They weren’t especially cool in any way that I can recall, but they seemed to enjoy it and didn’t get in the way. They were, in fact, generally available for hauling packs of kids around, something that was really valued in a rural community in an era before every sophomore had his or her own car. Years later, at a school reunion, one of my classmates told my mother how great it was that they were so willing to chauffeur us to basketball games in small towns all around the countryside.

    So, those of you who are worrying about back pain now might take comfort in the “good parent’ cred you are building up.

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  12. nancy said on April 21, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Jolene, I assume you’re talking about this interview?

    You raise a good question: What does good editing look like? I guess, at some point, you have to step outside the experience of enjoying the movie and ask yourself if the cutting matches the pace of the story. (Among other things.) I wish, just once, I could work with someone who does anything — movies, newspapers, dishwashing — with the talent and dedication of a Scorsese:

    If you’re editing a scene and he hasn’t already ordained some background music, do you cut to a temp track?

    Oh, no. He occasionally shoots to playback. For example in GOODFELLAS, all the scenes showing the people who had been killed by Jimmy Doyle because he didn’t want to pay them the money, they were all shot to “Layla.” All the camera moves were all done with that music playing as a guide track. But most of the rest of the film, he knew what he wanted to put in some of the critical places, such as the freeze on the young boy after he’s taken to court for the first time; the next shot you see him grown up, there are two airplane shots – he knew exactly how he wanted to lay “Stardust” there, and he designed the shot that way. But there were other sequences where he didn’t know which of maybe six songs he wanted to use, so after we cut the scene, pretty far along to the fine cut, then he and I sit, he listens to six pieces of music and we try them all and then one usually works the best.

    Earlier she says:

    A lot of the reason why he’s such a good director is he’s such a good editor. When he shoots, when he writes, he’s already thinking of the editing in his head. And that means he can also shoot less because he knows he can eliminate things, because he knows in editing we can [work around it]. I keep prostletizing that I wish more directors knew more about editing, because it is so critical. I get credit really for what he does, as far as I’m concerned.

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  13. 8th grade mom said on April 21, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    I really have come to dislike field trips – thankfully, I have been spared the overnight ones. What I can’t stand is that they go to someplace, like Navy Pier to go on some boat ride or to a play and then we spend so much time either arguing about the gift shop or whether the kid who brought $40 spending money can go on rides that the others who heeded the recommended spending amount can’t afford. UGH! I’d be interested in your daughter’s appraisal of the trip. When I haven’t gone, it seems like the gift shop is all too often the highlight of the trip.

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  14. Jolene said on April 21, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    No, it was a Terry Gross interview on Fresh Air. Sorry for screwing up the link and thanks for the link to this other interview.

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  15. sue said on April 21, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Jolene, many of the parents that I know best all share a secret: if you offer to drive regularly, you soon know way too much about what is going on, because the kids in the car FORGET YOU ARE THERE. Even into high school, the chatting that goes on in the back seat is enlightening and sometimes disturbing. Needless to say, it works better with girls than boys. So, as they say, shut up and drive. Of course, the first time you use the info and get caught your cover is blown and you might as well hand the driving duties over to someone else.
    And Nancy, I agree about watching or working with anyone who excels at what they do. Except when there’s an ego that goes with it, which is often the case.

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  16. Jolene said on April 21, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    Great excerpt from the Schoonmaker interview. Another thing I hadn’t though enough about: making the pacing of the scene match the music.

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  17. nancy said on April 21, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    8th grade mom skirts a good point about the museum experience — the profit motive. Of course we visited the gift shop, and of course it was a difficult experience. I had to wrestle a pen the size of a fungo bat away from one of them, and another girl wanted to spend $30 on Michiganopoly. I told her neither of her parents were Michigan grads, that they were generally frugal people, and even if they do root for UM during football season they’d probably not be pleased if she spent that much on a board game. I finally had to make a ruling and told her to put it back. That’s what prompted me to buy the wiener whistles. I wanted everyone to have at least one cheapie souvenir, and that was about rock-bottom, costwise.

    But here’s the other thing: Museums are gassing a lot about “interactivity,” and the new-style zip-zoom exhibits are doing a lot of business behind that — surely lots and lots from field trips. But I really, really hate those places, at least as “educational” experiences. They’re fine for wasting a January day, but please don’t tell me that kids learn anything there. They run from exhibit to exhibit, pressing buttons, barely waiting to see what happens, and then run to the next one — or the gift shop. Whereas I’ve never seen a group of kids go through an old-school museum like the Field or Natural History and fail to learn at least something. The Henry Ford walks a pretty careful line, but there were a few places where I wanted to strangle the exhibit designer. (Did I mention that the “future” exhibit included a place to play “Guitar Hero”? You want to see kids standing in line to participate? Go there.)

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  18. beb said on April 21, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    Calling the Dymaxion House a steel yurt does seem to hit the nail on the head. My wife and I saw another of Fuller’s concept houses at the Smithsonian several yeas ago. It was an interesting solution to many housing problems but I couldln’t see living there. It had ten foot ceilings as I recall and used all the overhead space for storage but who wants to be climbing a ladder every time you need to get something out of a closet.

    Equally interesting as the several showcases “houses” at the IKea store in Plymouth. They have walk through displays of “a complte house” in 900 square feet, 700 sq. ft, 500 and a rock-bottom 300 sq ft. As ingenius as their solutions for storage and furniture are, those showcases were damned claustrophobic.

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  19. Peter said on April 21, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Nancy – don’t get me wrong; I agree with your opinion of the Dymaxion House – I don’t really know if I want to live there, but it was just cool.

    As for Lustrons, there’s quite a few in the western Chicago suburbs, and they’re really neat, too, but their sad decline is another, long, story.

    Beb – You need to remember that IKEA is a swedish outift that most Europeans use either for their pied-a-terre, kid’s place out of college, or we’re on welfare. There’s plenty of places in Europe that are 300 and 500 square feet; the NY Times had an article about an LA develpment that was selling 325 square foot condos.

    TRIVIA VERIFICATION TIME: I had heard that IKEA is the Swedish initials for “I Know One Name”, which is also used for IKON here in the states; I thought I read that IKEA’s founder was a recovering alcoholic who got sober and found Jesus…I don’t want to follow Tim, so NN pals please confirm or deny!

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  20. nancy said on April 21, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Here’s what interests me about the Dymaxion — how it was perceived to be the solution to a problem that history told us would be temporary. Millions of soldiers returning home, housing shortages, etc. What to do, what to do…I dunno, why not build more houses? And that’s what happened. Fuller designed the thing to be struck like a tent, and taken with a family when it moved. You think, huh? Why? Who buys a vacant lot when they relocate?

    This is where I think more micro-knowledge of the era would help me understand; it’s probably one of those times you had to live through to really absorb.

    Of course, occasionally we do need swiftly constructed, non-insulting human-scale housing, after Katrina, for example. And we can’t seem to do any better than mobile homes or travel trailers. These are cute little things, but have you ever seen one outside of a news photo?

    As a homemaker, I’m interested in how we choose to live. The few friends I’ve known with 10,000 sf houses were, in the long run, all miserable (and never put more than five people in all that room). The kitchen/family “great” room was probably a reaction to mothers working, the rise of technology, and families wanting to spend what little time they had under the same roof in something approaching togetherness.

    And for all the blather crunchy cons give us about front porches, they can’t seem to catch on again in new construction. I loved my porch on my 1917 house in Fort Wayne, but even new-home construction now is all about luxurious “outdoor rooms” in back yards and maybe a very small shaded area out front. It’s such a shame; front porches really make a neighborhood.

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  21. John said on April 21, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    IKEA was founded in 1943 by Ingvar Kamprad in Sweden and it is owned by a Dutch-registered foundation controlled by the Kamprad family. IKEA is an acronym comprising the initials of the founder’s name (Ingvar Kamprad), the farm where he grew up (Elmtaryd), and his home county (Agunnaryd, in Småland, South Sweden).—Wikipedia

    I caught Ben Stein plugging his movie on Fox over the weeknight. There was scarcely time for any other news with the Big Guy in town playing at the stadium. I think the gist of Ben’s plug was if you agree with him good, if not, you must have a closed mind. Seems to be the right argument for the demographic they are selling to.

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  22. Harl Delos said on April 21, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Beb – You need to remember that IKEA is a swedish outift that most Europeans use either for their pied-a-terre, kid’s place out of college, or we’re on welfare.

    Welfare recipients in Europe can afford IKEA? Kids fresh out of college can afford IKEA?

    I hope Europeans are reminding their children to eat their vegetables because there are people starving in America.

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  23. Jeff said on April 21, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    I miss eaves, too. From where else can one drop?

    Trailer/modular homes work because you can move them, even when they’ve built up a concrete block skirt and a squad of outbuildings. For a big chunk of the country, the double-wide life means keeping your options open, and that’s the flavor of the era.

    Ben Stein has drunk a very strange glass of grape flavor-ade, from what i’m reading. Even Jonah Goldberg is taking him down on this one, but is the winner website for all your “Intelligent Design” deceitfulness needs.

    ps – i’m supposed to be part of the demographic they’re selling to, and the marketing plan missed by a mile. They’re aiming at the “contrails are the government spraying our reproductive organs full of chemicals” and the “look at the backs of highway signs for the real UN drive on the left side deal” crowd.

    Which is a scary demographic, but not that big and not growing much, either, contrary to Harper’s Magazine’s shrieking.

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  24. Harl Delos said on April 21, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Fuller designed the thing to be struck like a tent, and taken with a family when it moved. You think, huh? Why? Who buys a vacant lot when they relocate?

    I dislike many of Bucky’s designs, but I don’t think the idea here was to relocate the place. It was simply a first go at manufactured housing.

    And you don’t necessarily have to buy a new place to want to move your house.

    The new owner of the farmhouse I grew up in, a 1927 four bedroom, two story farmhouse with a stairway to the attic, decided the place needed a basement, and that it was too close to the road, so built a new basement about 100 feet back, and had the house moved.

    His brother, about a decade ago, built a basement right behind his double-wide several years ago, then sold it, and bought a larger one to go atop the basement. He apparently liked the 2-acre pond he had built, his freestanding four-car garage and workshop, and his neighbors. He just wanted a larger house and a basement.

    The few friends I’ve known with 10,000 sf houses were, in the long run, all miserable (and never put more than five people in all that room).

    But don’t you suppose they were miserable before they bought/built that house? Don’t you suppose that’s partly why they bought/built that house?

    According to recent studies, SSRIs are only 1% more effective than placebo in curing depression.

    If they’re trying to cure misery by buying or building a huge house, they aren’t going to be much less successful – and although Medicare Part D doesn’t cover drywall or Subzero refrigerators, most people eventually turn a profit when they move out of their personal residence.

    Prozac, on the other hand, depreciates rapidly in value once you swallow it. There’s hardly any resale value at all.

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  25. Sue said on April 21, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    I haven’t seen Expelled and don’t plan to, since I am a member in good standing of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and believe that Mr. Stein and his ilk are ignoring my equally important beliefs in their insistence on the acceptance of intelligent design in the classroom. I can’t imagine Ben Stein convincing anyone of anything, actually. (“anyone?….anyone?”)

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  26. nancy said on April 21, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Harl, hell yes kids straight of college can afford Ikea. Been there lately? It’s cheap as hell. Alan bought Kate a handsome wall-mounted CD rack a few weeks ago — $3.99. That’s to go with her two new pieces of storage furniture, crafted of locker metal painted bright red, at $99 each. Bricks and boards might have been slightly cheaper, but you can’t put refrigerator magnets all over that.

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  27. Harl Delos said on April 21, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    I had heard that IKEA is the Swedish initials for “I Know One Name”, which is also used for IKON here in the states; I thought I read that IKEA’s founder was a recovering alcoholic who got sober and found Jesus…I don’t want to follow Tim, so NN pals please confirm or deny!

    Great question. Looks like a deny to me, but my research is a tad on the shoddy side.

    Alco Standard Corporation, which had been functioning as a holding company since the 1960s, changed their name to IKON Office Solutions, Inc. in January 1997. The IKON name was already being used by their Kopier, Outsourcing and Networking subsidiary, and they sold off or spun off everything else.

    There used to be a Zeiss Ikon lens. Apparently Nikon ended up owning that brand, because at the time of the name change for the parent company, Nikon was suing over the name. I don’t know whether Nikon lost or Nikon was paid off, but IKON is still using the name.

    John Stuart headed the company from 1993 until 1998, when lack of profits and a sagging stock price got him fired. If he only knew one name, it sounds like it was the wrong one.

    The new head honcho, James J. Forese, promptly riffed 1500 people, and spent $140 million to restructure the company. They haven’t yet recovered from that clever idea. Both Xerox and HP grabbed IKON market share at that point, and they kept it.

    They also spent $111 million on stockholder lawsuits. Turns out the company manipulated their books to boost stock prices, then bought small companies in exchange for stock. Neither those new stockholders, nor the SEC, was really happy about that.

    Jesus was unavailable for comment, but the Holy Ghost commented, “You know about ITEK, don’t you? This guy at Kodak was considered a PITA by his boss. He told his boss he’d resign in exchange for technology that Kodak thought worthless. It sounded a lot cheaper than firing the guy. He recruited former co-workers familiar with the technology, and they started ITEK. Their salesmen boasted to customers that ITEK stands for I Took Eastman Kodak.”

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  28. brian stouder said on April 21, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    We have no plans to see Expelled, but this past weekend we enjoyed Juno – which is an all-around good-hearted movie. (I was sort of reminded of Juno by the reference to 10K sq ft homes housing an unhappy couple)

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  29. Jolene said on April 21, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    Juno was really charming, wasn’t it? That Ellen Page is just so darn cute! I also really liked Allison Janney and J.K. Simmons as her parents. Lots of people seem to have found the dialog a little too contrived, but I enjoyed it.

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  30. Harl Delos said on April 21, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    A four-shelf bookcase at IKEA costs $79. Target has four-shelf bookcases for half that. A stuffed chair at IKEA runs $400. At a garage sale, you can get something nice for $75.

    I notice you say Alan bought the stuff from IKEA, not Kate.

    If you’re on your own, you’ve suddenly got a ton of stuff to buy when you get out of college. You’re expected to wear business attire, not blue jeans and t-shirts, so there goes a bundle. You need to get back and forth to work, so there’s a car payment on a used car. You have to pay deposits on your apartment, and the lights, and the gas and the phone, and buy car insurance.

    You can get by with paper plates for a while, but you really need pots and pans and potholders, and silverware, and a shower curtain, and towels, and clothes baskets. Even at Odd Lots prices, that’s too much to come out of your first paycheck, or your second or your third.

    IKEA furniture? Hell, I had trouble trying to figure out which staples I could get out of that first paycheck; I couldn’t buy salt AND pepper AND toilet bowl cleaner AND a toilet bowl brush AND paper towels AND toilet paper AND Windex. I’m pretty sure I got toilet paper, and I remember borrowing disposable salt and pepper shakers from the company cafeteria, but I couldn’t afford everything.

    When I got out of college, I ended up sleeping on the floor for six months – and then I ended up buying a mattress and box springs, used, from a furniture rental place. And about three months later, I got a free sofa when the girl across the hall moved out. It turned out to be no bargain; it ended up giving me lice.

    If you figured out how to pay for college with grants, perhaps you can think of IKEA five years after graduation – but if you have a zillion dollars in college loans outstanding, they may still not be paid off before you start collecting Social Security….

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  31. Dexter said on April 21, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    My Vietnam Veterans Against the War chapter in FWA made a movie in early 1972. Some guy named Ted filmed us, that’s all I remember about him except he was a film student. He ended up as a gaffer in Hollywood and I saw his named credited one time…it’s so long ago I can’t recall that movie. When I see the word gaffer I think of Ted.
    The title I always sort of wondered about was best boy, but I never researched it until now. Drivl explains it.

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  32. brian stouder said on April 21, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Jolene – I don’t think Juno was contrived at all! They presented Juno as an intellectually sharp young lady, with reality-based parents, and they had some snappy dialogue – but nothing that was impossible.

    On the other hand, Pam and I were watching a movie that made me comment “this is looking cartooney” (which made her mad – negative comments during movies from me are like negative comments from her at a restaurant; they begin to limit the whole experience)…what was the movie????…..I forget. Might have been Flyboys (which, to be fair, never aspired to be anything more) – or some such

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  33. Sue said on April 21, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    I saw The Queen over the weekend (Helen Mirren). I had heard it was so good, and Helen won an academy award. I was not impressed… honestly, do they expect anyone to believe that Tony Blair, at that stage of his career, needed to be reminded by the queen what her role is? Queen E comes off as not too bright and I got the feeling that they wanted to make sure everyone knew certain things, like how traumatized Elizabeth was by watching the burden of the monarchy kill her father, so everyone got a line or two explaining things. It felt patched together and I didn’t come away with any new understanding.

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  34. richard said on April 21, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    My senior prom was at Deerfield Village. My mom was a chaperone. I helped pick out her dress. Second floor of some mansion.

    What do y’all think about Danica? Just another Kuornikova.? Well she started racing open wheel when she was 16 and she was very good with sorry ass cars.

    So what’s the point? She just races smarter?

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  35. richard said on April 21, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Kiss my ass. Richard? Moron.Whay to go moron. The clue you think you have, not in this lifetime.

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  36. Danny said on April 21, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    I’m not sure if we will go see, “Expelled.” I do not consider the focus of this form of apologetics to be essential to the Christian faith. Though some of these questions were important to me in the first few months after my conversion to faith in Christ, I think I was probably an exception to the rule.

    Plus, this whole debate has been polluted by charlatans and intellectually dishonest folks on both sides of the aisle. Creationists and evolutionists are both guilty in overstating their cases. The former want to call what they are doing as science when it is clearly philosophy. The latter tend not to make the distinction when have left what is science and lapsed into what is philosophy. For me, as a rational person of faith and science, both are odious.

    It makes me heartsick to see people within Christiandom use PT Barnum-like tactics to promote sloppy arguments and outright falsehoods. The only thing that makes me take heart is the knowledge that the majority of the Apostle Paul’s letters took the form of correctional epistles. It seems that in addition to having the poor with us always, we will also have the deceitful.

    On the flip side of the coin, it troubles me when scientists extrapolate their arguments beyond what is scientifically provable (falsifiable) and fail to make the distinction when their arguments have moved from science to philopsophy. And this is an important point that gets lost in all of this squabbling. Not everything is settled with science. Don’t act like it is. If someone wants to hold forth that everything sprung up ex nihilo and progressed willy-nilly from pre-biotic soup to man landing on the moon, have at it. Just make the distinctions where they need to be made. Don’t just pad arguments with phrases like “…and over perhaps billions of years…” when what you are really saying is, “I don’t know how this happened or even if it could have happened this way, but I’ll just add a bunch of time to overcome astronomical odds … and voila .. QED.”

    And I have several friends who are biologists and genetics researchers. They agree that this happens a lot.

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  37. Danny said on April 21, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    Sue, “The Queen” made us sleepy, but I did like the part where Tony Blair’s wife teased him that he was going to see “his grilfriend,’ the Queen.

    This weekend we watched, “The Outsiders.” Odd little movie.

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  38. Harl Delos said on April 21, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    Drivl explains it.

    I remember a conversation with my (late) first wife, an RN, on our first date. We went to see a movie, and we both had the habit of watching the credits, rather than trying to elbow our way out before everyone else. I knew a gaffer was an electrical rigger, and a grip was someone who toted, but foley operator had me stumped.

    “What in the world is a foley?” I asked.

    “It’s a catheter you leave in,” she responded, with a straight face.

    I’m not sure, but I think I fell for her at that point. Strong, intelligent women are dangerous that way.

    this whole debate has been polluted by charlatans and intellectually dishonest folks on both sides of the aisle.

    Faith has an important role in our lives, but whether it’s the right wing promoting “creationism” or the left wing promoting “global warming”, replacing evidence with faith works about as well as replacing the cheese on a pizza with cheez whiz.

    their arguments have moved from science to philopsophy

    Science is just a tool, in which we isolate one variable in order to determine what effect that one variable has. The study in which we apply the tool of science is called “natural philosophy”.

    Scientists don’t move from science to philosophy, just like the mechanic down at the garage doesn’t move from air wrenches to cars. He uses an air wrench to work on cars.

    Not everything is settled with science.

    The reason scientists fail to make the distinction between extrapolating and, uh, extrapolating, is that no such distinction exists. Nothing is ever settled. Not now. Not ever.

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  39. coozledad said on April 21, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    I grew up in a 1960’s split-level house, and it was ugly as sin. Nothing really fit in it, and it was always mostly a place to try and get away from. Rooming in old houses in college converted me, and with brief exceptions, I’ve always found myself living in some version of a 19th century frame house.
    Three years ago, my wife and I moved into our current house. The rear part of the house was constructed in the eighteenth century. It’s basically a yeoman’s cottage with a steep staircase going to a sleeping loft. The downstairs is timberframe with brick nogging, and has a large old cooking fireplace, which we equipped with a Swedish woodstove.
    In the 1850’s the occupants added a hall-and-parlor house
    with a traditional English floor plan that dates from the Elizabethan period , and another set of stairs that will break your neck if you try and ascend or descend them while drunk (or sober, for that matter). All the rooms are small, to conserve heat, and we heat the house solely with wood. We haven’t had much of a winter since we moved out here, but it’s a comfortable little place, even on a ten degree night.
    There’s a family cemetery in the front yard. The earliest marked burial is from the 1830’s, but there are about fifteen graves marked only with fieldstones.
    I plan to die here myself, if I can help it.

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  40. Peter said on April 21, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Thanks for clearing my misconceptions about IKON and IKEA. The Wiki response floored me; I guess I’m too old school to think of stuff like that on Wikipedia. Sheesh.

    Richard, nothing personal, but did I miss something?

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  41. Danny said on April 21, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    …replacing evidence with faith works about as well as replacing the cheese on a pizza with cheez whiz

    Ah, I am not making that argument. Did you really think I was?

    Scientists don’t move from science to philosophy, just like the mechanic down at the garage doesn’t move from air wrenches to cars. He uses an air wrench to work on cars.

    Again, I am not really making the argument you think I am. Philosophy has been more the parent to science and they have always gone hand in hand. I have stated this before on this blog, but before you were around. But though they go hand in hand, there is a clear distinction to be made between the two. Philosophy may lead one to hypothesis, but science must be used on hypothesis.

    What I am objecting to is moving to the next hypothesis (..perhaps billions of years…) and misidentifying it as fact. Waxing philosophical and passing it off as science. Not cool.

    The reason scientists fail to make the distinction between extrapolating and, uh, extrapolating, is that no such distinction exists. Nothing is ever settled. Not now. Not ever.

    Harl, several of us have given you short shrift around here because:

    1) Of that incredibly stupid argument you made about it being okay that OJ killed Nicole (it’s a man’s right or soemthing) and,

    2) You seem to have a lot of time to waste by getting in endless disputes where you get to use your words and hold forth like you’re an intellect to be reckoned with.

    If you wish this situation to change, please stop cherry-picking comments, ignoring the main thrusts of arguments and arguing against claims that are never made. That is all.

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  42. Deborah said on April 21, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    If you haven’t yet heard how PZ Myers got expelled from Expelled go to his website, Pharyngula. Google it. I don’t remember where I heard this story initially, maybe it was here? Myers was not allowed in to the movie after going through all the proper chanels but Richard Dawkins managed to get in, no problem.

    Regarding Buckminster Fuller and pre-fab housing: Americans are just not going to let pre-fab happen in any major way (except for sad and pathetic trailer parks), it goes against the grain of the system of suburbanism and financing as we know it. There are some really interesting things going on with prefab housing but it’s unfortunately a dead end here, thanks to the banks.

    And one more thing, I loved The Queen. Helen Mirren is my all time fave. I saw her recently in Tesuque, New Mexico near Santa Fe. She’s gorgeous!

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  43. Harl Delos said on April 21, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    Of that incredibly stupid argument you made about it being okay that OJ killed Nicole (it’s a man’s right or soemthing)

    I never said it was his right to kill someone who is abusing his children, if he can’t get it to stop any other way, it is his DUTY. I can’t believe that you’re defending the abuse of children.

    If you wish this situation to change, please stop cherry-picking comments, ignoring the main thrusts of arguments and arguing against claims that are never made. That is all.

    If you’ll name one indisuptable scientific fact, Danny, I’ll agree that scientists should distinguish between fact and conjecture.

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  44. Jolene said on April 21, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    Harl, if you think it is better for children to have their mother killed by their father than to see her making love to another man, well, you are one amazing guy.

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  45. ellen said on April 22, 2008 at 12:07 am

    I used to work for an Ingvar Kamprad-owned company in the UK. It’s about bringing the kind of good design (design-forward is a buzzword) people associate with much more expensive contemporary furniture at a price that is affordable to a much broader segment of the population. Some of it also has to do w/how Americans live vs how Europeans live. When you move house in someplaces in Europe (in Germany, for example, and to some extent in the UK), you might take nearly the entire house with you, up to and including stuff Americans would consider fixed items that stay with the house, such as the kitchen cabinets and the light fixtures. IKEA stuff is designed for that kind of portability. Some of it is crap, but the stuff isn’t meant to be heirloom. Its meant to be cool and contemporary and priced in a way that you can feel OK about replacing it with the next cool thing that comes along.

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  46. whitebeard said on April 22, 2008 at 4:28 am

    Back to IKEA and brick and board shelves, we had the latter in Montreal before we moved to this centuries-old farmhouse which has floor to ceiling bookshelves on three walls in one stretched room we naturally call “the library.”
    I was amused by Ellen’s comment about Europeans and Brits moving everything, “such as the kitchen cabinets and the light fixtures. IKEA stuff is designed for that kind of portability.”
    Portability was a key ingredient in the July 1 “La fête de déménagement” (The moving holiday) in Montreal when tens of thousands feverishly create traffic jams as they switch apartments Yes, a very unusual but legally enforced moving day in La Belle Province that is like no other.
    It’s also Canada Day, or Dominion Day as i still call it, to mark Canada’s birthday.
    I had an old Ford Econoline van then and was very popular among my colleagues, especially in the creative breaking of those July 1st leases.
    How do you break a lease? Well, you move on any day you choose, usually around midnight when the powers that be (landlords, building supers, concierges) are asleep, you hope. There’s a certain danger, of course, when you are using ropes to lower a sofa from a seventh-floor window. An IKEA bookshelf would be much easier to lower that way.
    There were other frightening moments, too. On one midnight move, dictated by when I left work for the night, a somewhat unfriendly policeman asked me, the driver, what I was doing and asked for my driver’s license. My friend, the moving tenant, followed suit and showed his license, but then asked me later why I was so polite to the policeman instead of refusing to show any piece of paper as I usually did, legally by the way.
    Well, I said, you did not see the police sniper, his cap on backwards, watching us from around the corner of the school. That made me extremely polite and informative, I said. This is at the time when LEO (law enforcement officers) were frantically searching for the kidnappers of the British trade commisioner in Montreal.
    One final note on bricks, when we were moving from Montreal I hired day laborers to load the rented U-Hell vans. One of them was slowly lifting a smallish box, one of several, and asked what was in it, bricks? Yes, i replied, pointing to the word “BRICKS” on the boxes. Another one carefully loaded a black plastic garbage bag, we discovered on unloading. that contained ashes, not grandfather’s ashes but plain old ashes from cleaning the chimney.

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  47. Terry WAlter said on April 22, 2008 at 7:12 am

    On the topic of houses,anyone been to The House On The Rock in Wisconsin? A huge,rambling somewhat spectacular place, that in no way seems like somewhere that you would actually live. Also, could someone please explain the popularity of “great” rooms. Here you have a room that takes up a large part of a house’s square footage. In return, you usually have a high ceiling with a ceiling fan trying to whip the huge temp differential back into something palatable (anyone else find ceiling fans annoying?). Oftentimes a fireplace that never gets used. And the basic premise for them is totally wrong these days. The idea that ma, pa and the kids are all going to want to do the same thing at the same time. Like watch reruns of Bonanza? Aside from opening Christmas presents,when does this ever actually happen? Seems to be one of those ideas that somewhere down the line will have disapproval ratings like W. or Hilary.

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  48. brian stouder said on April 22, 2008 at 7:36 am

    The House On The Rock in Wisconsin

    Up ’til a week ago, I’d never heard of the place, but this summer’s Family-palozza Road Trip will be to the Wisconsin Dells, with several vacationey features, including The House On The Rock, which made me think of the one in Lemony Snicketts when I heard the name, and which even looks a little like it!

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  49. sue said on April 22, 2008 at 10:01 am

    I haven’t been to the House on the Rock for years. As I recall, it looked rather neglected when I saw it (the things behind glass needed dusting). But there was some kind of merry-go-round museum attached to it that was pretty gorgeous. Make sure you go through that if it’s still there. The Dells are great for kids. Are you staying at a resort? Some of them seem expensive but are so inclusive (golf course, on site, or admissions elsewhere included) that you probably save money by not having to buy admissions everywhere.
    And Harl, not to pile on, because I think we should all back slowly away from the OJ thing, but do you realize that when you wrote “I can’t believe you’re defending the abuse of children”, you wrote a response that is the equivalent of a right-winger’s “Why do you hate Jesus?”. You’re not funnin’ with us, are you?

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  50. brian stouder said on April 22, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Are you staying at a resort?

    Pam looked at those, and also at cabins. The cabins struck us both as the quintessence of ‘vacation’ – but they not only aren’t inexpensive, but they also have lengthy ‘minimum stay’ requirements.

    So, we thought “piffle”, and went for a more conventional deal at a hotel with a pool near a lake

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  51. sue said on April 22, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Have you got any coupon books or anything? I don’t pay too much attention, but I think there are usually coupons offered locally – I can look around if you want.

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  52. brian stouder said on April 22, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Sue – if you see a goody or two – by all means!

    Some years back, when SeaWorld was still in Cleveland, we went there and paid the full admission price, and had a marvelous day.

    Later, when we were departing, we thought we’d make a quick stop at the McDonalds drive-through for some ice cream (and icy cold Diet Coke!)….and we got discount coupons on the back of the receipt….which would have saved us more than $20!!!!


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