Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Hemingway, Midnight In Paris
...Upon Emergent Occasions...meditation 17.

A little stream of consciousness here...we watched "Midnight In Paris" the other evening, a fabulous film, even if it is by Woody Allen, he of questionable character and sullied reputation.

The story is this...a modern day man from the 2000's visits Paris, and much to his surprise, is able to slide back in time in a Peugeot at midnight to the 1920's.  When he does, he finds himself rubbing shoulders with the best known literati and artists of the day: F Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda, Cole Porter, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Gertrude Stein, and yes, even the great Papa Hemingway.

The handling of this time worn cinematic trick of time travel is remarkably well done, and you'll have no problem believing that Gil Pender (played wonderfully well by Owen Wilson), 21st century man, hobnobs nightly with the greats of the roaring 20's.

So why the blog title?  Hemingway lifted a line from John Donne's 1624 work named above (go ahead, look back at the title) for one of his novels, to wit:

"No man is an island,  entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were;  any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. "

So take that.

I was in my garage the other day, enjoying an Arturo Fuente Short Story cigar - that I lit with my Ronson Touch Tip Junior Bartender lighter (thank you, Robert Adams of RonsonRepair) - alright, I admit it, and a glass of rye whiskey - when I had an unexpected encounter:

Ok, so maybe it wasn't all that unexpected...Mr. Bolts actually winters there in our garage...and spends his summers there...and springs...and most of the fall, too.  In fact, he only leaves for a week in late October when he makes his grand appearance on our front porch when we scarify things for All Hallows Eve.  He does a good job and is always a big hit with the trick or treaters.

Here's a family portrait taken on the big night last year:
Why is it you can never get everyone to look at the camera at the same time??  I'm the good looking guy on the right...

In the mid century modern department, a picture of my loft:

I like the stacked stone fireplace, the kitsch kats on the mantel, the Predicta tv and above that a 1962 Austin Cox aluminum chess set...above that, a Nelson style clock, and in the foreground, a Nelson marshmallow sofa.  Other design elements include the hanging lights for a sense of verticality, black and white linoleum flooring, and a partially obscured GE tube radio from the early 1960's in the bottom right corner of the photo.

Whenever I need to get my Draper on, this is where I hang out.

It's 5:30 am and another exciting work day looms, so roger willco over and out for now.

Friday, February 21, 2014

System Issues...

ENIAC circa 1946
...take 4...

Apparently our computer system has morphed into a sentient being that hates my guts, so tonight we took HAL down and changed the disk controller board.  So far, so good, but time will tell...the witching hour has been between 1 am and 2 am, approximately an hour from now.  Can you say pins and needles?

A shout out to an etsy seller...we bought these very cool, vintage wall hanging cats from Fleaosophy and I highly recommend her shop...here are the cats in our living room:

Visit her shop on etsy...you won't be disappointed.

Later, mcm fans...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

System Issues...

...are going to kill me...

Ok, so we're a little more advanced than that, but we're having major issues with a disk controller...too many 3 am wake up calls...as a matter of fact, as I write this it's 3:55 am and I'm just mopping up the third system reboot this week.  I should probably admit defeat and brew a pot of coffee at midnight while waiting for the clarion call.

An upcycled percolator lamp from BenclifDesigns  He has many very cool light fixtures on his site...you should check it out.

If this new and exciting routine we've settled into doesn't do me in before then, we're going to solve it with a system failover event this weekend...big fun.

In spite of these unpleasant circumstances, I generally like the middle of the night.  In a previous life I used to drive back and forth between Michigan and Maine, a 1,000 mile, 18 hour trip.  I'd always do it in one stretch, and my favorite part of the journey was from about 11 pm until 5 am...traffic was light, and for the most part it was just me and truckers counting the white lines as they zoomed by mile after mile.  On a clear night the stars would fill up my windshield and I'd mentally write that bestseller or solve my relational problems while sipping a large coffee and enjoying a Dunkin' Donuts cruller.

So Mr. Bob Adams of www.RonsonRepair.com has been working his magic on my Ronson lighters again...he serviced both my Junior Bartender and Maltese Falcon lighters:

Junior Barrtender lighter
He did a superb job of fixing the touch tip mechanism, and straightening and painting the base...here it is in action:

Here's the Maltese Falcon he repaired:

...and here's a video of it working:

In what appears to be a losing effort to drag this blog back into a mid century modern aesthetic I claim to adore (and in truth, I really do), here's a favorite item that stretches the definition the other way:

My Weltron 2005: radio, 8 track, record player
This was made around 1969 / 1970, and realistically, that's post-mcm...but it has that cool, atomic, space age vibe that was prevalent in the 50's and 60's, so I'm including it here.  A short video of it playing a CRC 45:

I'm home now, it's almost 5 am...as Yukon Cornelius once opined, let's get some shuteye!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Movie Weekend...

...among other things.

Karen and I have a modest home theater room, and I do mean modest...it was a storage area in our basement that we cleared, then hired my son Chris to refurbish, repair and revamp.  When he was finished it was a cozy area, an intimate setting that's ideal for watching a favorite movie...

...so we managed to fit in Four Weddings And A Funeral, Forget Paris, The Maltese Falcon, and The Big Sleep...perfect fare for yet another frozen, winter weekend...the latter two being film noir from the 1940's...the last one a Bogey and Bacall classic.

I do think movies back then were better in many ways than what we have today.  Then they had to leave it between the lines, and so the players had to act...instead of throwing buckets of blood and gore on the audience they had to build actual suspense.

And sexuality?  Those movies were dripping with it.  Today's movies are about as interesting as watching two dogs mating on a street corner...back then the heat was a volcanic flow under the surface...relational...conveyed in a gesture, a lingering look, a phrase left unsaid.

You want to see a true seduction?  Watch the scene between Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint in North By Northwest when he lights her cigarette with a match, pulls his hand away, and she takes his hand, pulls the still lit match back toward her lips and...whoooh...gently blows it out.

If you can't feel the heat in that scene you need to check your pulse.

One thing I had forgotten is how much they smoked in those films...everyone is lighting up in every scene, but that was the WWII generation.  I'm not a health nazi...I tend toward libertarian views tempered by my faith in Christ...but the tobacco companies must have loved Hollywood back then.

Are we better people for having watched these films?  Perhaps not, but we enjoyed our time together and that by itself made them worthwhile.

Another favorite item:
Ok, this is not a true, mid century modern tv...it's a Predicta Meteor, but made by the now defunct Telstar corporation, not Philco...and it was produced in the 1990's, so it's a color tube tv, not a black and white like the original 1959 version.  I do own an original, working, barberpole Predicta, but I admit it...I like this one better.  It's a very cool design Philco wishes they'd come up with back in the day, and it's color...very watchable, and definitely captures the essence of the mcm aesthetic.

Until next time...

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Happy Valentines Day...

...did you remember??

roses and a cake for Karen
You don't need to have an enchanted evening on a high rise balcony in mid century modern splendor, but you should remember your loved one...bring them a rose, a card, and a bottle of champagne (don't gag...Barefoot Wines makes a respectable champagne for less than $10 a bottle...a bit of the bubbly at a price you can afford).

Most important?  Say "I love you" and mean it...so get your Cupid on and be a hero.

In the continuing saga of my new found passion for vintage Ronson lighters, my Junior Bartender had to be sent out for repairs to Bob Adams (www.RonsonRepair.com).  Disappointing since it was listed as "working", which it definitely was not when received.  Here's a pic of the poor lass on the operating table in Dr. Adams' Laboratory (pronounced "la-bore-a-tory"):
Dr. Adams assures me that while all the kings horses and all the kings men may not have a clue, never fear: he knows how to put Ms. Jr. Bar back together again.  When he does, she'll look like this:

And to prove that all Ronson roads pass through www.RonsonRepair.com, see the "Maltese Falcon" touch tip lighter in the top left of the above picture?  That's a lighter I bought from another seller in Ohio, but he sent it to Bob for repair before sending it on to me.  It's referred to as the "Maltese Falcon" b/c of its starring role in the 1941 Humphrey Bogart film of the same name:
movie screen shot courtesy of Bob Adams
That's Bogey using the Ronson to light up another cigarette in this most famous of the film noir entries.

Also picked up a beautiful Ronson Zephyr (not an Ultra Case as I thought...thank you Bob Adams for the correction) from The Classic Collector in New Mexico (www.etsy.com/shop/classiccollector):

Here's a video of this working cigarette case / lighter:

(Yes, that's CCR's "Bad Moon Rising" playing in the background on my 1933 Colonial "New World" Globe radio.)  It's a beautiful piece, and I should note the Ronson Ten A Case and the Ronson Pal I showed earlier were also purchased from the Classic Collector...he is a pleasure to deal with and a seller with integrity...highly recommended.

Enjoyed an hour of conversation with my youngest son, Benjamin, tonight.  When he was just a lad we nicknamed him "the man of few words" b/c he was, well, taciturn...if he strung 4 words together at a time we considered it a speech of epic proportions...now he's actually preaching sermons on Sunday as a fill in for his pastor and regaling me with stories of his life.

An eternal truth: people will surprise you, even those you think you know.  Love you, Benjamin.

And that's the way it is on this Valentine's Eve, 2014...

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Ronson Lighters...

The Ronson Vee Lighter
...a new collecting passion.  O boy; just what I need...another way to spend money.

So a crisis of aesthetic conscience is occuring as it appears I am publicly getting in touch with my inner art deco child lately.  I suppose this is a form of regression, as I move backward in time from present day *(consider this paradox: almost everything today is digitally preserved; almost none of it is worth recording)*, to mid century modern (1950's through 1965) to art deco (1920's through early 1940's).

If this continues, by the time I bid farewell to this mortal coil I'll end up somewhere around the birth of Christ, which is probably appropriate considering I am, eventually, heaven bound...praise God in heaven for that blessed reality.

In the meantime my blog focused on mid century modern continues to take on a decidedly art deco flavor:

Apologies to the 1 or 2 unfortunates who may accidentally stumble onto this url.

Random thought: the other day I was discussing train travel with the highest IQ human being I know - think 190's - he was a student in Europe during the late 1960's and regularly traveled on their rail systems - and he has a friend who is a commercial pilot for one of the big airlines.  While explaining why he prefers train travel to the airlines he shared the pilots' view of coach passengers everywhere...

...they are referred to by the men and women who fly them from points A to B as "self-loading cargo".  In case the current state of commercial flight - which possesses all the ambiance of herding livestock into cattle cars -

- isn't enough to discourage you, knowing how you're perceived by those responsible for your safe arrival should give pause for thought if nothing else.

In the favorite things section, here's a 1930's Ronson "ten a case" lighter:
...so called because it could hold 10 filterless (pretty much all they had back then) cigarettes in the case:
...and for all of you health nazi's out there, I enjoyed a Camel filterless today...but unlike Slick Willie, I really did not inhale.

Here's a short video of the lighter in the tenacase:

And that's the way it is on this fabulous February night.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Working More...

...and enjoying it less.

So how's that for a spectacular bar?  I think that's what's going to be next to the bowling lane in the basement of our mcm ranch home.  It will be the seamless melding of two, usually separate and distinct aesthetics in one fluid blend of art deco and mid century modern motifs...following the natural progression of the 1920's and 30's into the 1940's and 50's, only this time, instead of one giving way to the other, they'll stand proudly side by side in a symphony of artistic cohesion.   Or something like that.

Work is probably going to kill me...the never ending stress of long hours and constant deadlines as we seek to meet every growth opportunity in an efficient, timely manner.  Don't get me wrong...I'm both thrilled and thankful to be employed by a good company, especially in this disastrous Obama economy...but the truth is, I am, in fact, working more and enjoying it less.  It could be as simple as a long winter and rarely seeing the sunshine that is wearing me down...let's hope.

Any "It's A Wonderful Life" fans out there?  If so, here's a treat...an original Midland Jump Spark lighter, purchased from Bob Adams of www.ronsonrepair.com :

So that's the Jump Spark Lighter on the left, a Ronson "Ten A Case" lighter and cigarette case next to it, a Ronson Pal lighter and cigarette case next to that, and the previously featured Ronson Streamline lighter in the background.

Here's a video of the Jump Spark lighter in action (please recite, "I wish I had a million dollars!" just before you click on play):

How cool is that?  Very.

Can't wait until summer when I can light up an Arturo Fuente Short Story using my Jump Spark lighter and enjoy it outside...

Monday, February 3, 2014

Back In The Saddle...


Please note...if you arrived here from the Desert Riviera Facebook page, you can click on this link to see the details of our Palm Springs vacation: http://atomicmonstercafe.blogspot.com/2014/01/palm-springs.html

If not, then welcome to the next installment of the Atomic Monster Cafe blog where I blather on about whatever interests me at the moment and hopefully - eventually - tie it into something mid century modern...

...though just recently and increasingly I'm finding myself attracted to and actually collecting art deco objets d'art more than mcm items...like this 1937 Ronson Junior Bartender touch tip lighter:

How cool is that?  It's definitely art deco, and has a certain je ne sais quois that makes me admire it.  Ok, let's face it, I just used that french term b/c I think it's what a snobby writer who wanted to impress people would do.

Even so, it's definitely high in cool quotient, and when we build our mcm ranch, the bar in the finished basement next to the bowling lane will sport that and several other cool lighters and accessories.  There; I circled back to mid century modern by mentioning our future ranch home.

So we're back from Palm Springs, and re-entry into the workaday world was unkind.  The combination of an increasing workload and the harsh winter weather - see the first picture - made dealing with reality particularly unpleasant...but I'm happy to be employed so I sucked it up and jumped back on the treadmill.

This weekend was Karen's birthday so we celebrated a bit:

.I took her to a jewelry store under the guise of picking up some free earrings...they sent a card ahead of her birthday suggesting she stop in and pick them up...but I had called ahead and purchased a gift card for her, and they put it in the "Karen" envelope in the picture, and placed that in one of their display cases.

Eventually Karen spotted the card with her name on it in the display case and she was truly surprised.  It was a good night.

In the favorite stuff section, tonight's a twofer...1st, a 1930's Ronson Streamline lighter:

That's one I bought from Bob Adams of www.RonsonRepair.com...he is, as a seller in New Mexico recently opined, "the best in the biz", and I can attest to that.  If you've never seen one before, here's how it works:

Pretty darn cool, yes?  Yes....

...and just so I end on a mid century modern note, here's the twofer...an original, 1950's, Coke cooler:

Karen and I use this in the summer quite a bit...we fill it with ice and various beverages, set it on our back deck and enjoy the day outside by the pool.

And that's the way it is on this frozen, February evening...