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Sun Valley Serenade

This full movie is cued up to start at the musical and dance entertainment portion. You can rewind to the beginning to see the full movie if you wish. This is a level of entertainment that is probably not possible today.

The orchestra was led by Benny Goodman who was as big as the Beatles in his day – about 25 years before the Beatles. Benny’s instrument was the clarinet, something that’s been nearly entirely missing from the mainstream music scene for at least fifty years.

Sun Valley Serenade was recorded in Sun Valley, Idaho. The venue still exists to this day. Your author and his wife had the pleasure of staying in the Sun Valley Lodge 20 or so years ago where we met ice skating legends Scotty Hamilton, Katarina Witt, Oksana Baiul, and others in person. The room the orchestra played in looks the same to this day.

Skating stars tend to vacation in Sun Valley and neighboring Ketchum, Idaho in the summers during their off season. Many of them practice in the two skating rinks and some participate in public shows on Friday or Saturday nights. Sun Vally has a year-round outdoor ice rink, one of the few, and perhaps the only year-round outdoor rink in the world. To keep the ice frozen, they have four Diesel-powered refrigerators each as big as a full-size cargo container.

I believe you’ll agree with me that the dance sequence is one of the best ever. It is performed by the Nicholas Brothers and Dorothy Dandridge. The brothers were born in 1914 and 1921 to a pianist mother and drummer father.

The Nicholas Brothers, Harold and Fayard, who lived to the age of 92, later taught master tap dance classes as teachers-in-residence at Harvard University and Radcliffe College. Janet Jackson and her brother Michael studied under the Nicholas brothers.

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Fred Astaire Biography

Fred Astaire’s birth name was Frederick Austerlitz. He lived to the age of 88, continuing to perform up to 82 years old. Fred was born in 1899 in Omaha, Nebraska. He was more than just a dancer, also being highly skilled in singing and acting as well as playing clarinet, accordion and piano.

Not being happy with Omaha, Fred’s mother hoped he, and his older sister Adele might take up vaudeville performing so she could move to some place more interesting to her, such as New York City. Adele enjoyed her dance lessons, but Fred was simply not interested – at first.

Around 1933, Fred was hoping to break into movies. After an early screen test, a casting director reported, “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Balding. Can dance a little.”

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30 Things Only Baby Boomers Will Remember

When VCRs came out, they sold for $1,200. Eventually, you could rent videos for $4.95/day (US). At the end of the era, you could buy a VCR, complete with a remote for $59 and movies were often five videos for five days for five dollars.

Your author was fortunate to take typing lessons in public school during 5th grade, around age eleven. We all had to bring our own typewriters from home. Mine was about 30 pounds in came in a box like a hard suitcase. I was envious of the kids who had smaller typewriters. I was especially envious of the few who had electric typewriters. Imagine, with an electric typewriter, one didn’t have to make a point of pressing the A and the ; keys hard enough to match the impressions on the paper of the J and F keys.

When the phone rang, you answered it! There was no way of knowing who was calling, and they couldn’t leave messages until later, when answering machines became common. Most of the answering machines used cassette tapes. You had to rewind or fast-forward through the tape to hear your messages. Every now and then, something would go wrong and the tape would spill out of the cassette. When that happened you had to carefully suck it back in by turning one of the spools with a Bic pen stuck through it’s middle. Bic pens fit just right. Nothing else worked as well.

All serious amateur photographers had darkrooms. This was a room in the house where the photographer could lay out trays of chemicals, and a vertically-oriented projector that would shine light through negatives onto light-sensitive paper. The paper was then soaked in three trays of chemicals to develop the print. Drying these was always problematic. You couldn’t just leave a print laying around. It would curl up into a tight spiral. For black-and-white photos, which most were at the time, the darkroom had a dim red or orange light, called a safelight, that allowed a person to see, but would not harm the photos. For color photography, the safelight was a ridiculously dim olive green.

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What the Deaf Man Heard

You know any movie with James Earl Jones has to be great, right? This offbeat movie is no exception. Set in the 1960s, it’s about a boy who grows up hearing more than most people expect and the actions he ends up taking.

James Earl Jones, who was the voice of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars, has played many roles, many are just wonderful and uplifting. Born in 1931, in Arkabutla, Mississippi, James Earl Jones is still with us as of this writing – February, 2024. He is 93 years old. His deep voice is considered basso profondo. He was planning to become a medical doctor until participating in the Korean War where he became a first lieutenant. Afterward, he took up acting, while supporting himself as a janitor, starting with Shakespearean roles. With his basso profondo voice, Broadway was a natural fit for him, where started performing in 1957.

His mother was a teacher and maid. His father who survived until the age of 96, was a a boxer, butler and chauffeur. At five years old he was shipped off to be raised by his grandparents in Jackson, Mississippi.

His childhood wasn’t easy. He had a stuttering problem so severe that he refused to speak for a year, which you’ll understand is very significant in the context of this movie.

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North Dakota

North Dakota has an area of approximately 70,700 square miles (183,000 square kilometers).

The state’s nickname is the “Peace Garden State” because it is home to the International Peace Garden, located on the border between North Dakota and Manitoba, Canada.

North Dakota is the least-visited state in the country, making it a great destination for those seeking a quieter and more peaceful experience.

The western part of the state is known for its picturesque Badlands, featuring unique rock formations and stunning vistas.

The state’s economy is largely driven by agriculture, with wheat being the primary crop grown in the region.

North Dakota is one of the top producers of honey in the United States, thanks to its vast fields of wildflowers that attract bees.

North Dakota is rich in fossil fuels, particularly coal and oil. It has significant oil reserves in the Bakken Formation, making it an important energy-producing state.

Rugby, North Dakota, is considered the geographic center of North America.

The state is home to several Native American tribes, including the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, and Lakota Sioux.

North Dakota has a strong Norwegian influence, and the city of Minot hosts the Norsk Høstfest, the largest Scandinavian festival in North America.

North Dakota has a vibrant rodeo culture, with numerous rodeos held throughout the state during the summer months.

Laws Still on the Books in North Dakota

In Fargo, North Dakota, it is illegal to wear a hat while dancing.

Don’t keep an elk in a sandbox in your yard. That’s breaking the law.

You may not let your horse sleep in your house.

It is illegal to fall asleep with your shoes on.

It is illegal to shoot an Indian on horseback, provided you are in a covered wagon.

It is illegal to dance to the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

It is illegal to play hopscotch on a Sunday.

It is illegal to dance while wearing a hat in a courtroom.

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North Carolina

North Carolina is known as the “Tar Heel State” and its residents are called “Tar Heels.”

The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, conducted their first powered flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903.

The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, is the largest privately owned house in the United States. It has 250 rooms and covers 178,926 square feet.

The state’s official beverage is milk.

Pepsi Cola was invented and first served in New Bern, North Carolina, in 1893.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the oldest public university in the United States, chartered in 1789.

The state’s Outer Banks are a chain of barrier islands that are constantly shifting due to ocean currents and winds.

The state is known for its beautiful lighthouses, including the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, which is the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States.

North Carolina is one of the leading producers of sweet potatoes in the country.

The town of Wilmington, North Carolina, is a popular filming location for movies and TV shows, earning it the nickname “Hollywood East.”

The “Research Triangle” is a region in North Carolina that includes Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. It is home to several prestigious universities and research institutions.

Blackbeard, one of the most infamous pirates in history, had a hideout in Beaufort, North Carolina.

North Carolina is the largest producer of tobacco in the United States.

Cheerwine, a cherry-flavored soda, was created in Salisbury, North Carolina, in 1917 and remains popular in the state.

The city of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was originally two separate towns, Winston and Salem, which merged in 1913.

North Carolina is home to the largest military installation in the world, Fort Bragg, which covers over 251 square miles.

Silly Laws Still on the Books in North Carolina

It is illegal to use elephants to plow fields unless they are accompanied by a state-licensed elephant driver.

Bingo games cannot last more than five hours.

Alligators may not be kept in bathtubs.

If a man and a woman who are not married enter a hotel room together, they may be arrested.

It is against the law to sing off-key.

Women must have their bodies covered by at least 16 yards of cloth at all times.

Fights between cats and dogs are prohibited.

It is illegal to sell more than two drinks to the same person at a time.

No one may sing “Happy Birthday” in a public restaurant.

It is illegal to go to bed without first having a full bath.

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New York State

New York City was originally settled by the Dutch in 1624 and was known as New Amsterdam until it was captured by the English in 1664 and renamed New York.

In 1785, New York City became the first capital of the United States under the new Constitution before it was moved to Philadelphia and eventually to Washington, D.C.

The Seneca Falls Convention, held in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, marked the beginning of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States.

The New York Draft Riots, which took place in 1863 during the Civil War, were the largest civil insurrection in American history, sparked by opposition to conscription.

In 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City resulted in the deaths of 146 garment workers, leading to significant labor reforms and safety regulations.

The Empire State Building in New York City was the tallest building in the world until the completion of the North Tower of the World Trade Center in 1970.

The Empire State Building, completed in 1931, was constructed in just over a year and became an iconic symbol of New York City and the United States. During WWII, a US bomber pilot lost his way in cloudy conditions, smashing into the 78th floor of the Empire State Building. Unlike the World Trade Center, the building did not collapse. The damage was totally repaired.

The abolitionist movement gained momentum in New York State in the 19th century, and it became a critical hub for the Underground Railroad, helping enslaved individuals escape to freedom.

The construction of the Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, was completed in France in 1884, and it was then disassembled and shipped to New York City where it was reassembled on Liberty Island.

The Great Blizzard of 1888 paralyzed New York City and the surrounding area with record-breaking snowfall and strong winds, resulting in significant loss of life and economic disruption.

The Catskill Mountains in upstate New York were a popular destination for vacationers, entertainers and artists in the 19th and 20th centuries, inspiring the Hudson River School of landscape painting.

The Finger Lakes region in upstate New York, with a population of around 4 million people, and known for its wine production, particularly Rieslings and other cool-climate varietals, is named after the long, narrow lakes that resemble fingers on a hand.

The Adirondack Park in northern New York is the largest publicly protected area in the contiguous United States.

The Woodstock Music Festival, one of the most iconic music events in history, took place in Bethel, New York, in 1969.

The first American pizzeria, Lombardi’s, opened in New York City in 1905 and is still operating today.

New York State has hosted the Olympic Games four times: twice in Lake Placid (1932 and 1980) and twice in New York City (1904 and 1932).

The world’s first commercial-scale electric power plant, the Pearl Street Station, began operation in New York City in 1882.

New York State is home to numerous prestigious universities, including Columbia University, Cornell University, and New York University.

New York State has more ski resorts than any other state in the United States, making it a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts.

In 1859, Central Park in New York City had a “Vinegar Hill” – a small, isolated mound of rock that was made entirely of discarded vinegar barrels.

The town of Phelps, New York, holds an annual “Sauerkraut Weekend” festival to celebrate its history as a major sauerkraut producer.

In the town of Cairo, New York, there is a building known as the “World’s Smallest Church,” which can only accommodate a congregation of about 8 people.

The town of Medina, New York, is home to the “Floating Bridge,” which is a bridge built on a pontoon system, allowing it to rise and fall with changes in water levels.

The Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York, is home to the world’s largest collection of glass art, spanning over 3,500 years of history.

New York State has a town named “Sodom,” located in the Finger Lakes region. Its name has sparked various theories about its origin.

The village of Lake George, New York, hosts an annual “Winter Carnival” featuring events like an outhouse race, ice diving, and a chili cook-off.

The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, houses the National Toy Hall of Fame, where iconic toys like Barbie and LEGO have been inducted.

In the town of Saratoga Springs, New York, you can find the “Spam Museum of Saratoga Springs,” dedicated to the canned meat product.

The world’s largest kaleidoscope can be found in Mount Tremper, New York. It is housed in a silo and offers a mesmerizing visual experience.

New York State has a town named “Chili,” which is often subject to jokes and puns related to the spicy food. The town name is pronounced like “Chy ly” but also “Che lee.”

TThe town of Geneseo, New York, holds an annual “Dog Parade” where participants dress up their dogs in creative costumes and march through the streets.

The town of Sackets Harbor, New York, hosts an annual “Civil War Weekend” featuring reenactments, historical tours, and cannon firings.

Silly Laws Still on the Books in New York State

It is illegal to take a lion to the movies.

You cannot allow a donkey to sleep in your bathtub.

It is illegal to jump off a building more than 50 feet tall.

It is illegal to greet someone by putting one’s thumb to the nose and wiggling the fingers.

It is illegal to keep a bear as a pet.

It is illegal to honk someone else’s car horn.

If you intend to dry your laundry on a clothesline, you must first obtain a permit.

It is illegal to frown at a police officer.

No more than three unrelated people can share an apartment.

Do not pee on pigeons unless you’re OK with breaking the law.

It is illegal to wear a bulletproof vest while committing a crime.

It is illegal to eat peanuts and walk backward on the sidewalks of Rochester, New York.

It is illegal to wear slippers in public restrooms.

It is illegal to ride an elevator with more than four people and a dog.

It is illegal to throw a ball at a person’s head for fun in a city park.

It is illegal to walk around on Sundays with an ice cream cone in your pocket on Sundays.

You cannot legally change the color of a rabbit’s fur.

It is illegal to perform a puppet show without a state license.

It is illegal to keep more than two dildos in a house.

It is illegal to dye a duckling blue and offer it for sale, unless more than six are for sale at once.

It is illegal to give a dog a lighted cigar.