Old Movies

I’ve always been a fan of old movies.  Though I don’t watch them as often as I used to.  When Turner Classic Movies came out in 1994, I was a little over 10 years removed from high school, and I’m almost positive we had cable in our first house together.  Even then, watching old movies wasn’t all that hard, as long as you were able to get down to the video store and go into the ‘Nostalgia’ section.  Movies like Gone with the Wind or  The Music Man were fairly easy to come by, as few people were renting them, rather than whatever was new at that period of time.  Even so, there were some movies I’d never watched, and even now I’ve never seen Citizen Kane or Murder on the Orient Express.  

Jimmy Stewart movies are especially near and dear to me, though like many the one that really stands out would be It’s a Wonderful Life.  I’ve never actually seen Mr. Smith Goes to Washington though I’ve seen snippets of the movie over the years, especially the part where he filibusters a bill or something in the US Senate in the penultimate scene late in the movie.  Certainly, I know the basics of the plot, but for one reason or another, I hadn’t had the time, or the desire to sit through the whole movie.  That is, until last night.

I was especially weary after a really long day at work; having come off 6 days of vacation, I really needed something to take my mind off my weary body and wanted something to watch while my wife and I were eating dinner.  Flipping through the cable channels, I happened to notice TCM, and lo and behold there it was.  MSGtW.   I asked my wife if she had anything else she wished to watch and she said no.  Typically she doesn’t have any preferences at dinner time, her shows generally come on later in the evening.  So I settled down with my dinner and watched the movie, though by the end of dinner I was only about halfway through.  Luckily, the movie was available on Amazon Prime, so for a modest fee, I was able to watch the rest of it on the larger tv in the den after dinner.

I have to admit, the movie didn’t disappoint, though I can well understand that Frank Capra did tend to hit the moviegoer over the head a little with his incessant patriotic flag-waving early in the film.  I can understand writing the character of Jefferson Smith (Stewart’s role) as a bit of a country bumpkin that really didn’t have any business being in Washington, certainly not as a US Senator.  Even though Donald Trump managed to get elected President without any prior political experience (and look what we got from that) putting someone in Congress with no experience is the very essence of wasting a seat.  Though I suppose the alternative was having someone in the vest pocket of a mover and shaker back in the home district, someone that was going to be a veritable ‘yes man’, rather than someone that might actually listen to the voters and do some good for the rank and file of that district.  There was no ‘Citizens United’ in those days, but many a Congressman has been ‘gifted’ with a seat and done the dirty work of the people that put him or her there, that’s not a unique or new piece of history.

All in all, it was a good movie to watch and it stuck a movie into my bucket list.  Just this afternoon I purchased a few more movies that I’d been meaning to see, some again, some for the first time.  Perhaps in the coming days, I’ll sit down, grab a bowl of popcorn and enjoy Here Comes Mr. Jordan,  or the aforementioned Citizen Kane.  I might even have a go at 12 Angry Men again.  Though I don’t think I want to see Marty again,.  I like Ernest Borgnine, but not in that film.

Preserving my past

As I mentioned in a previous post I have a box of slides that need to be digitized and converted into a better form for viewing.  As I’m discovering, 35mm slides aren’t the easiest thing in the world to work with.  Modern printer/scanners aren’t really all that good when it comes to them, because they’re not print media (pictures), they’re transparent, so they don’t scan very well.  One needs a dedicated piece of equipment to work with them, and the better ones are expensive.

When I first got the slides, I used an app on my Android phone called ‘Lightbox’ which basically did what it says, backlit them so that I could take a picture with a second phone, in order to see the slides as if they were in a projector.  Of course, that’s a quick and dirty method, I need something that can be used to doing the same thing, but with a bit more clarity as well as finesse in bringing out the natural colors and nuances of the slide in question.  I knew that there were dedicated machines to do the work, as well as businesses that are skilled in doing it, but many of the businesses are still in their infancy, charge an arm and a leg for the work, and there’s the bugaboo of sending your memories out to a 3rd party, and you might not get them back.  US Mail has never been an exact science.

20220311_075021[1]When I got home, I had more opportunity to seek out a machine that could do the work and do it efficiently for an affordable price. Oddly enough, I found one that had good reviews on Amazon, and it had a familiar name.  With a little digging, I discovered it wasn’t really made by the company emblazoned on it’s chassis, it was just being used because it was familiar to consumers, but sneakily enough the company name was actually being used in a legal sense.  (Kodak had gone through bankruptcy in the early 2010s and sold off many of it’s lucrative patents) The nuance wasn’t really lost on me, as the company that had processed the slides, made the original film and even produced the camera that originally took the pictures were all one and the same, but it’s definitely a different world.  The Kodak building might still be in Rochester, NY, but it’s most definitely NOT the company it once was.

Even so, after purchasing the unit through Amazon, it took a little trial and error before I could use the unit efficiently.  It has a slider that one can load and push through the unit, which is set up to receive slides of different shapes and sizes, one just has to find the right one and it works pretty well.  I wouldn’t say that it works professionally, but certainly way better than the clunky way the Lightbox app operated.  I was able to hook up the unit to my computer via USB and instantly copy the scanned slides to my hard drive, once I had adjusted the slide for size as well as being sure the slide wasn’t in the unit backwards.  Several times I had to look at a slide to be sure that it wasn’t reversed, going back in my memory about how a certain piece of furniture or light switch was situated in my parent’s house, so as not to give the reverse impression of the items in the slide.

I have about 700 slides and all in all it took me about 3-4 hours to process them.  I did have to scan some of them multiple times in order to be sure they were done properly, since some of the slides weren’t in the greatest of shape after having been stored in various places over the years.  Certainly some of the really old ones (1950s) were completely oxidized and useless, though for the most part they showed people I’d never met and had no idea who they were.  Since my parents are deceased, I can’t use them for reference, and my cousins don’t live close by, so it’s likely they wouldn’t recognize them either.  Who they are will remain a mystery.  Such is the way of historical records sometimes, without proper annotation, it’s just a picture.

But, I’m pleased to have them in my possession, and for the longest time they were just sitting in my brother’s attic, unused, unseen and unknown.  Now I can share them with him, with my cousins and for a new set of eyes, my birth mother, who missed out on my youth and all the adventures I had.  She’s been very pleased and intrigued by the images.  So I’m happy it all worked out.  Thanks Kodak.

Use it or lose it

It’s March now, and I’ve used up almost all of my vacation time that I accrued in 2020.  At my workplace, they have a policy of ‘use it or lose it‘ in terms of how vacation time is managed.  I’ve earned four weeks of vacation a year due to how long I’ve worked at this particular company, along with a codicil that was agreed to in the union contract when my fellow employees and I were absorbed into this company from our previous one.

Basically, it said that employees that had 10 plus years of service with the absorbed company were due 2 weeks of vacation, rather than having to ‘build from the ground up’ with the new company.  Though that’s all well and good, by this time, had the old company still been in business, I’d have accrued FIVE weeks of vacation, so I’m getting stiffed by one week, not that I tend to use all of my allotted time for the purpose of going anywhere. That being said, I guess I’m grateful for having the time given at all, when by this time I’d still be at three weeks in the current company system.

Where’s all this going?”  I’m sure you’re asking yourself.  Well, nowhere actually, only emptying my brain on a Monday evening, in the midst of my vacation time.  Then again, I haven’t written in awhile, so I thought I’d throw out some things while my brain was interested and my fingers were nimble.  Yes, lucky you dear reader, lucky you.

By my recollection I’ve started any number of entries since my last tome hit the interwebs back in October of last year.  I wrote for a little while and then set them aside to mildew and fester, and finally tossed them into the rubbish bin as they were no longer either viable, or current.  For whatever reason my blogging jones just doesn’t seem to be able to get off the dime to finish an entry before it becomes dated.  Even this one is now 2 days after when I started it.  Go figure.  Procrastination, thy name is me.

We’re quickly winging our way down from the end of winter to the beginning of spring in about 2 weeks.  While I’m writing this, it’s snowing outside.  This after a day of 70° weather on Sunday.  Yeah, really.  A good amount of the snow that had accumulated over the winter melted, then was pummeled into submission by the rainstorm we had Sunday evening.  Naturally after that the temperatures went down to more seasonable 30s and 40s culminating with the snow that’s currently falling here at Casa Leathers.

The remainder of the week has appointments, and a visit from the local plumber/electrical repair guys, to do some work that has been needing attending to for probably the better part of a year.  What has been needing fixing are assorted electrical and plumbing issues, though one became very immediate on Sunday evening when the kitchen sink developed a clog.  I tried getting rid of it with the usual remedies (a plunger then noxious chemicals) but neither of them worked.  Time to call in the experts.

Suffice it to say, I have other reasons for this last week of vacation, the house is in dire need of cleaning and sprucing up.  It’ll be interesting to see if I can get that accomplished.  Wish me luck!