Behold the Ritual Clearing of the Tabs

Yup, it’s that time again: When I look at Chrome and realize, “Wow, I have a lot of tabs open to stuff.”

::  On the oldest book in the world printed with movable type, and it’s not the Gutenberg Bible:

The oldest extant text ever printed with movable type predates Gutenberg himself (born in 1400) by 23 years, and predates the printing of his Bible by 78 years. It is the Jikji, printed in Korea, a collection of Buddhist teachings by Seon master Baegun and printed in movable type by his students Seok-chan and Daijam in 1377. (Seon is a Korean form of Chan or Zen Buddhism.) Only the second volume of the printing has survived, and you can see several images from it here.

Impressive as this may be, the Jikji does not have the honor of being the first book printed with movable type, only the oldest surviving example. The technology could go back two centuries earlier.

::  Why does everyone want to buy candy on Tiktok right now?

Causey’s most successful TikTok videos follow her as she packs old-school candies, like wax bottles filled with sugary juice and vintage candy buttons, into boxes for customers. Her videos also show off new offerings that she eats on camera: Think gummy Nerds clusters and chamoy-drenched dulces enchilados, or Gushers coated in chamoy syrup and rolled in Tajin seasoning. Her account features imported chewy Puchao candies and Pocky sticks from Japan, along with a slew of other Asian candies. There’s also weird stuff — sour candy that you spray in your mouth, candy shaped like unicorn poop, and gigantic gummies, along with nostalgic favorites like fizzy Zots and lemon drops. But Causey’s taste of viral success really began when the jelly fruits trend emerged on TikTok.

In countless videos on the platform, users would eat the jellies — a type of candy sold in fruit-shaped plastic capsules — by popping the capsule with their teeth, causing the jelly to burst in their mouth, often to comedic effect. The hashtag #jellyfruitcandy has racked up more than 27 million views, and for a while Candy Me Up was one of the few places that sold it.

The article goes on to describe “freeze-dried candy”, which is something I saw in a store in Toronto recently. I thought about trying it, but that stuff was expensive, at least in the store where I saw it, and I’d already dropped a chunk of money in an anime-and-comics store that very morning. Alas!

I find Tiktok kind of fascinating, and I hope it, or at least something very much like it, survives the current challenges. (I have to be honest here: I don’t get terribly worked up about the Chinese maybe “spying” on what I’m doing. If they think they can learn something insightful from the odd doings of a guy in overalls who lives near Buffalo, well, have at it, Hoss. Something needs to be done about the car-theft thing, though.)

::  V: The Original Series first aired 40 years ago. Wow.

I actually didn’t watch V the first time it aired. I don’t remember any buzz about it in school, and right around then all our geeky energy was laser-focused on the impending arrival of Return of the Jedi. I think I remember one kid talking about the V show that he’d watched the night before. Plus, V aired on NBC, which was at that point languishing in third place on the networks, and it’s biggest hits of the 80s had either just launched and had yet to gain traction (The A-Team) or hadn’t even come along yet (The Cosby Show), and in those days (wow, there’s a phrase I’m not keen on using to describe the 19-freakin’-80s), buzz was based pretty much on if you saw the commercials on the network you were watching at the moment. So, for me, V came and went very quickly, and I missed it entirely.

A year later, though, the sequel dropped, and that one, I saw. By then we were watching NBC a little (thanks, A-Team!), and I might have watched a movie that I wanted to watch on NBC’s weekly movie telecast, back when the networks actually televised movies. In fact, I think it was a movie, because I remember a long preview at the movie’s end–maybe five minutes long, maybe more–for the upcoming Big! Teevee! Miniseries! Event!, called V: The Final Battle. Now that I was properly briefed, I watched V: The Final Battle faithfully, and I was a big fan right from there. The original miniseries from the year before was re-broadcast soon after, and I was now fully briefed.

V: The Final Battle was produced by a different team than the original series from just a year earlier, which led to some differences in tone and story; the second series is much more action-oriented than the original and it doesn’t focus nearly as much on the allegory of fascism that the original did. Also, the second series features one of the most gobsmackingly bad endings I’ve ever seen, even for a thirteen-year-old kid. But the preceding five hours and fifty-five minutes of the six-hour miniseries was great, so if the ending sucked, I was willing to forgive.

V was a big enough hit that the two miniseries led to a weekly series later that fall (1984, I think), which started off strongly but then bogged down a bit. There’s some handwavey-stuff in the series opener explaining how the humans’ victory from The Final Battle actually wasn’t, and then a favorite character from the miniseries was killed immediately, and the show just wound up bogging down. There was a reboot many years later (ten years ago, maybe?) on ABC, but I didn’t watch any of it.

Oh, and The Final Battle boasted a wonderful 80s-synth score:

::  Ten Essential Songs by Gordon Lightfoot.

SO MANY BRILLIANT songwriters came out of Canada in the Sixties — legends like Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Robbie Robertson — that the talents of Gordon Lightfoot are sometimes overlooked by those who don’t know better. He never even appeared on a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballot before his death at 84. That’s a raging injustice when you listen back to gems like “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Carefree Highway,” and “Early Morning Rain.” These songs earned him a sterling reputation as a songwriter’s songwriter, which you can see when you check the list of people who covered them: Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and countless others. Or you can take it from Dylan himself, who famously remarked, “I can’t think of any Gordon Lightfoot song I don’t like. Every time I hear a song of his, it’s like I wish it would last forever.” Here’s a guide to ten of Lightfoot’s best songs.

::  Color Him Busy: A profile of heavily-tattooed actor Robert LaSardo.

In person, LaSardo comes across as a sensitive soul with a sense of humor. In an interview in his agent’s office he lifted his right forearm as if to prove it, and there, amid a roiling sea, is winsome Betty Boop in her flirty pose. “That’s my comic relief,” he said. He’s reluctant to make too much of the other tattoos — or as he prefers, “illustrations” — that cover both arms, his abdomen, neck, hands, fingers, back and legs. He’s even a bit self-conscious about discussing their significance.

LaSardo admitted the ink has helped him establish a 20-year career portraying thugs, drug dealers and gritty undercover cops. But he said landing roles through his tattoos was never his intention. “It’s my life story,” he said. “It’s the trip through my world.”

A bit of background here: a while back I found a YouTube channel that posts clips from the classic show NYPDBlue, and just this morning there was a clip that features a guest stint by Robert LaSardo. Now, La Sardo has been one of my favorite “Hey, it’s that guy!” actors for years–the proper term is “character actor”, obviously, but “Hey, it’s that guy!” or “Hey, it’s her!” works to convey the same idea. His work as a particularly nasty bad guy in CSI: Miami is a standout in my mind, but he’s always good when he turns up. A quick glance at his filmography reveals five different appearances on NYPDBlue, each time as someone different!

Actors like LaSardo tend to get lots of reliable work by being, well, not only good, but also professional and reliable. The linked article above, which I found on a simple Google search, is almost twenty years old, but LaSardo’s career does not seem to have slackened one bit since then.

(image credit)

::  Chicago Symphony Orchestra librarians know the score:

Shortly before each Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert is set to begin, someone discreetly walks onstage to place a score on the conductor’s music stand, then returns to retrieve it when that first piece is over — a process repeated for each selection on the program.

Those brief, easy-to-ignore trips across the stage are the only times that audiences get a glimpse at the three staff members who work in one of the CSO’s most important if little-known behind-the-scenes departments — its library.

Located one floor below the Orchestra Hall stage, this windowless space serves as a repository for the music the orchestra owns and a work space for three librarians.

Here’s a fascinating article about a little-known facet of professional orchestra operations: the library and its librarians. The music they’re playing–the actual physical music, consisting of the conductor’s score and the orchestral parts for all the musicians–comes from somewhere, after all!

::  30 fun facts about The Voyage of the Mimi.

In 1984, The Voyage of the Mimi debuted on PBS. The groundbreaking educational science series, part of the curriculum of many elementary and high school students (including this writer!), captivated kids throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, spawned a sequel, and kicked off Ben Affleck’s career.

If you’re my age, you may remember watching The Voyage of the Mimi, either in school or on PBS at some point. I’m honestly not sure when I first saw it, but it’s been on my radar for years, so I’m assuming it was in the 80s at some point. It’s a 13-episode series about a research expedition into the North Atlantic to study whales, aboard a ship called the Mimi. There’s a crusty sea captain, two research scientists, their graduate assistant (who is deaf), two teenagers, and the sea captain’s grandson, who was played by a young Ben Affleck, if you can believe that. The whole show is available to watch on YouTube, and it actually holds up pretty well, as period educational shows go. Each episode consists of fifteen minutes of story followed by a fifteen-minute mini-documentary that applies to that particular episode’s topic. I wish it was viewable in better resolution than YouTube’s max from eleven years ago.

Sadly, the Mimi herself fell on funding and ownership difficulties that led to her eventual scrapping (though she was a long-lived ship, originally built in the 1930s!), but I did get to see her once! We were on our honeymoon in May 1997 in Boston and New England, and we went one day on a whale-watching expedition that set out from Plymouth. On the way back in, the boat’s tour guide pointed out two ships anchored nearby: one was a replica of the Mayflower, and the other was none other than the Mimi. I wish I’d taken a picture, but this was in the days (there I go again) of film cameras and I don’t even think I took my camera with me on that trip. Alas!

There was a sequel series to Voyage of the Mimi that I don’t think I ever watched, and sadly, a proposed third series never managed to get funding. Anyway, I like to think that the characters from the show got together again for more adventurey science voyages in the future!

::  Finally, speaking of Tiktok, this particular creator has found an incredible pair of overalls. I’m actually envious of these! The Big Smith brand made a lot of funky-patterned overalls years ago, I’m assuming in the 1970s, and they do turn up on eBay and vintage shops now and again.

@mckailahanna I dont think youre ready for these bibs ✨ #cincodemayooutfit #cincodemayocelebration #cincodemayo2023 #cincodemayo2023 #vintageoveralls #bigsmithoveralls #bigsmith #bagguoftheday #conversehigh #summeroutfits2023 #size12summerfashion #bagguoutfit #vintagefinds #vintageetsy #midsizeoveralls #overallsoutfits @imogene + willie @Converse @BAGGU @Etsy ♬ original sound – McKaila Hanna


That’s all for now. Keep on truckin’, folks! (Hoping to have a much-delayed Substack ready this weekend, too! I’m not nearly done with Rachmaninoff….)



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One Response to Behold the Ritual Clearing of the Tabs

  1. Roger says:

    In my circle at the time, the series V WAS a big deal, for some reason.

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