Saturday News Chum Stew: From Molassass to Underdog

userpic=murakamiWell, it’s ummm, Saturday, and time to clear out the accumulated links to stories that couldn’t be linked into a coherent theme. Have at ’em…

  • Clearing the Roads. Living out in Southern California, I rarely run into roadway deicing. We get perhaps one hard freeze a year, if that. But other areas deal with deicing regularly… and a story about deicing technology caught my eye. If you live in those areas, you know that the regular approach to deicing is to put salt — or salt water — on the road. This has all sorts of bad side effects. The Chicago Tribune had an interesting article on the future of deicing technology: molassass. Yup, the sticky sweet syrup is evidently a great deicer for roads. Another alternative used by many municipalities is beet juice, a byproduct from the sugar manufacturing process. Molasses is similar to beet juice when it comes to keeping roads safe but differs slightly in that it has less pulp. Both sweet substances are mixed with the salt (requiring less salt to be used). The carbohydrate makes the salt more effective, especially on rural, high-speed roads. Salt that doesn’t stick can be blown away by winds or traffic.
  • Turning into a Monster. Bad theatre reviews are quite a bit of fun… and one can usually find them where a Frank Wildhorn show is found. Now I happen to like Wildhorn’s music (to a point) — I find there are many enjoyable songs in shows like Scarlet Pimpernell, The Civil War, Wonderland, and Bonnie and Clyde. But critics? They hate him with a passion. A Wildhorn show (Jekyll & Hyde) just opened at the Pantages, and local reviewers reflect that hatred. From the LA Times review by Charles McNulty: “But like Dr. Jekyll scrambling to undo the chemical formula that has turned him into a part-time lunatic, [the director, Jeff Calhoun] lacks the fundamental ingredients to pull off the transformation. Which is to say he’s stuck with Leslie Bricusse’s book and lyrics and Frank Wildhorn’s music, and not even the most resourceful chef can make a gourmet meal when bound to a chain restaurant recipe.” Paul Hodgins in the Orange County Register is not much kinder: “Those who remember the musical “Jekyll & Hyde” the first time around might well greet the news that it’s being revived for Broadway with a question: Why? Sweet mercy, why?”. I have no plans to see this show (I saw it at Cabrillo a few years ago in a great production; I have no desire to see Constantine Maroulis and Deborah Cox…) but boy, are the reviews a hoot.
  • Working It Out. If you are like me, you would like to lose a little weight. I’m trying to do it by eating better and working out at the YMCA. But how many days to work out? An interesting article in the NY Times points to the optimal number, which is closer to four (4). I’ve generally tried to get to the YMCA every day, headache permitting. But often, that slipped to every other day or every couple of days. This is showing that the every other day or so is the better approach.
  • Las Vegas History. If you know me, you know that one of my hobbies is history of the Southwest … in particular, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Sun has an interesting article this week on Jerry’s Nugget, which is a family run hotel/casino in North Las Vegas. It has been run by the same family since 1964.
  • The Emperor’s New Clothes. As you know, the Pope has resigned, and there will be a new one soon. Shortly after the puffs of white smoke, the new Pope will appear clothed in Papal finery. Ever wonder how that is done — and who dresses the Pope. Wonder no longer. Hint: He doesn’t shop at the Gap.
  • There’s No Need To Fear… I would think that most people of my generation could complete that sentence, and even tell you the character’s backstory. If you can’t, look up these three phrases: “Underdog”, “Shoeshine Boy”, and “Polly Purebred”. Underdog was a television cartoon funded by General Mills in the 1960s about meek Shoeshine Boy who could turn into the superhero Underdog (voiced by Wally Cox). Alas, I must report that one of the co-creators of Underdog has died at the age of 85. David Backlin, on Facebook, alerted me to this real nice editorial cartoon about the passing:

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