WABAC to The Hollywood Blacklist

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Fascinating Facts

About the

Hollywood Blacklist

“Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?”

“We’re going back to some pretty dark days in Hollywood, Sherman My Boy.”

Following the end of World War II, the fear of nuclear war with the Soviet Union caused many organizations to buckle down on what they considered to be American values. In Hollywood, it was no different. In 1944, the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals (or “MPA” for short) was created. Any screenwriter, director, or actor who was even suspected of being involved with the Communist party was blacklisted from the industry.

10. Fair Wage Protests

After the Great Depression, many people feared that they could lose their jobs, and many workers were being underpaid. This led many of the workers to form unions. In 1933, a union called the American Federation of Actors was formed, and the Screen Guild extended to technicians who worked in the film industry. Most of these organizations were created by members of the American Communist Party. Over 6,000 workers picketed for their rights in the 1930s, and it forced the Hollywood executives to give in to the demands for a livable wage.

Many of the screenwriters and directors who showed their support for cameramen, set builders, and those in the technical professions of Hollywood were duly noted, and later targeted for their Communist philosophy of giving everyone a wage they can actually survive on. Today, it’s normal for the Screen Actors Guild and the Writer’s Guild to go on strike when they feel as though they are not getting paid enough. Strikes in Hollywood are no longer associated with Communist ideas.

9. The Wrath of Hedda Hopper

Hedda Hopper was a former actress who spent her later years writing a gossip column called “Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood” for the Los Angeles Times. She was extremely conservative, and wrote negatively about anyone she did not like, which of course included anyone who was suspected of being a Communist. Her work spread to radio and TV, and she used her influence in the media to frighten people into conforming, for fear of having their reputation ruined.

Hopper pretended that this crusade against the “Red Menace” was because of her loyalty as an American, but she was singlehandedly responsible for ruining the reputations of hundreds, if not thousands of people, whether it was due to being a ‘Communist’, gay, or generally “immoral.” In multiple cases, the people she humiliated actually committed suicide. A British actress named Merle Oberon once asked Hopper why she enjoyed ruining people’s lives so much, to which she replied, “Bitchery, dear. Sheer bitchery.”

Hedda was such an over-the-top character that has been dramatized in a few films: RKO 291 (1999), Trumbo (2015), and inspired Tilda Swinton’s character in Hail Caesar! (2016). The FX series Feud: Bette and Joan from 2017 also showcases a scene (which you can watch above) where Hopper threatens to ruin her friend’s reputation with old nude photos from her youth, and she revels in the lives she had destroyed.

8. The Hollywood Ten

It was a truly Catch-22 situation, because if one denied being a Communist, they would only be questioned more. If they admitted to being a Communist, they were constantly asked who else they knew in the party. The House Un-American Activities Committee asked all of the suspected Communists to admit that they were part of the party, and the only way they could free themselves was to betray their friends and give the names of other party members.

A group of 10 screenwriters refused to answer the questions, which was their right under the Fifth Amendment. One of the most famous among them was Dalton Trumbo. None of these men actually committed any crimes, since they had every right to express their thoughts under the First Amendment, and yet they were all sent to jail for Contempt of Court and blacklisted from ever working in Hollywood again. Many of these writers, especially Trumbo, continued to work as a writer, only under fake names or by ghostwriting for friends.

7. The Company Man

In a 1936 movie called The President’s Mystery (the whole thing is available on YouTube and embedded above), the wealthy owners of a factory decide to shut it down after the Great Depression, but it wasn’t because the company went bankrupt. They just wanted to save money by cutting jobs that they felt were unnecessary. People lost their livelihood by getting laid off. That movie was written by Lester Cole as an adaptation of a novel originally written by Sinclair Lewis. Cole would later become one of the Hollywood Ten.

Companies do, in fact, lay off their employees in order to save money. However, if a screenwriter ever portrayed corporations as being “the bad guys” or showed men who were unhappy with their job, it was considered to be Un-American and punishable by blacklisting. This is why, in the 1940s and beyond, male characters were always portrayed as happy with their 9-to-5 jobs, and that attitude influenced the general public. It became part of “The American Dream” to find a job, stay loyal, and keep working until retirement. By these standards, the movie Office Space would have been the most “Communist” movie ever.

In the 1980s, laying off employees for budget cuts became far more common. By the early 2000s nearly everyone knew someone who had experienced this. Once the Great Recession hit in 2008, there was no denying that corporations were filled with corruption. Rather than suppressing that truth, Hollywood began coming out with movies like The Big Short that portrayed the real greed of Corporate America.

6. Killing Feminism

One common thread among “red” filmmakers was that they put a lot of feminism in their films. In fact, most of the films that were released inside of the Soviet Union had strong female lead characters, usually played by a beautiful brunette named Tatyana Samoylova, who is best known for her performance in The Cranes are Flying.

The 1940s had wonderful feminist movies in Hollywood, but they began to disappear after the end of World War II. When husbands came back from war, they had a hard time convincing their wives to give up their income in exchange for being a full-time housewife. The MPA was frightened that this could mean the end of the traditional American way of life. In the movies released by the Soviet Union, women worked hard and still somehow managed to raise their children. The MPA considered anything along these lines to be Communist propaganda.

In 1951, a movie called I Can Get It For You Wholesale premiered. It was about a woman named Harriet who turns down a marriage proposal in favor of advancing her career as a fashion designer in New York City. In the end, Harriet realizes that friends, family, and love are far more important than money. While the movie had so many pro-Capitalism messages and celebrates the All-American entrepreneurial spirit, the fact that the character who succeeded the most was a woman, and the final moral of the story was deemed far too “un-American.” The movie was banned from theaters, for fear that it would “brainwash” the masses.

Abraham Polonsky wrote and directed I Can Get It For You Wholesale and was brought in for questioning, and he was also blacklisted from the film industry. After that point, writers were afraid to portray feminism in their scripts, because they did not want to accused of being a Communist. It took decades for Hollywood to rebound from the blacklist on feminism. This is why, during the 1950s, in nearly every single film, we see the perfect image of a stay-at-home mom who has dinner ready by 5:00 p.m.

5. John Wayne Supported The Witch Hunt

John Wayne was an actor who is most remembered for his portrayal in movies about the Old West. One of the movies that John Wayne had a huge issue with was High Noon. There is a scene where the people in the town are disrespectful towards a corrupt sheriff. He believed that this was very un-American, and reported it as potential “Communist Propaganda.”

According to Vanity Fair, the screenwriter Carl Foreman actually wrote High Noon as an allegory for the witch hunts of the McCarthy era. Despite the fact that he won an Oscar for the movie, Foreman was sent a subpoena to appear before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He admitted to being involved in the Communist party when he was young, but he quit. When he refused to give up names of other Communists, he was blacklisted from the industry, and forced to become a ghostwriter and let other people get credit for his Oscar-worthy work.

In 1974, John Wayne was asked during an interview if he regretted his participation in the witch hunt, in retrospect. He responded that he believed it was necessary, and that they wanted to stop “radical liberals” from taking over the film industry.

4. Walt Disney and the MPA

During World War II, Walt Disney released several propaganda films for the US Government. In those films, it was easy to see that he was obviously against the oppression caused by Nazi Fascism. So, it only made sense for him to become the Vice-President of the MPA. In their mission statement, the MPA claimed to remove hidden Fascists and Communists from the movie industry, which would lead Walt Disney to believe that the fight against Nazism wasn’t over just yet.

As a beacon of wholesome, American family entertainment, Disney wanted to help the organization identify potentially dangerous content in Hollywood. However, Disney was not as vocal in the over-zealous identification and persecution of Communists as Sam Wood, the president. There is very little record of Disney’s participation in the MPA, except that he got into many disagreements with Wood about how they were running the organization.

Not long after, Disney was removed from his position as vice president. In the late 1940s, during a labor strike by the artists at one of his studios, Disney blamed the Communists for orchestrating it. However, he never tried to identify or fire any individuals he thought may be Communist. He just believed that some of the Communist ideals were beginning to change the younger generation.

3. Ronald Reagan Took a Stand

Long before he became President of the United States, Ronald Reagan began one of his first leadership roles in the Screen Actor’s Guild. In 1946, he mediated a dispute between two different Hollywood unions. One of the groups was a lot more unruly, and it was led by a member of the Communist party. He saw this as proof that all Communists really were trying to take over Hollywood and destroy the American way of life.

In 1947, Ronald Reagan became an informant for the FBI, and began giving names of known Communists in Hollywood. His first wife, Jane Wyman, asked for a divorce the next year. Despite the fact that Reagan was on a crusade against Communism, he agreed to remove Nancy Davis from the list, and married her. These experiences are what began Reagan’s interest in politics, and he eventually went on to become Governor of California, and then the President of the United States.

2. The Committee for the First Amendment

After the persecution of the Hollywood Ten, a lot of people in Hollywood began to stand up for their rights. A lot of famous actors and actresses like Lucille Ball, Lauren Bacall, Judy Garland, and Humphrey Bogart became part of the Committee for the First Amendment. The vast majority of these people were liberal Democrats. Despite the fact that they were not Communists themselves, they could see the corruption and the total disregard for the Hollywood Ten’s Constitutional rights.

However, all of these people who tried to speak up for the rights of Hollywood Communists became targets themselves. In 1948, Humphrey Bogart wrote a piece called “I’m No Communist,” explaining how his involvement in the Committee for the First Amendment caused friends to turn against him, calling him a Communist. He was getting letters in the mail, and harassed out in public. Just like the members of the Hollywood Ten who were asked to only answer in “yes” or “no” statements, Bogart compared this onslaught of accusations to someone asking, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” and the only option for answers being “yes” or “no.” You’re doomed either way. The pressure was enough for many of these actors to buckle under.

1. Breaking the Blacklist

For years, blacklisted screenwriters continued to work as ghost writers. Dalton Trumbo actually wrote the incredibly popular movie Roman Holiday and gave it to his friend Ian McClellan Hunter. The script won an Academy Award. Decades later, his credit was finally restored.

King Brothers Productions was willing to hire Trumbo for low wages to B-movies at a fraction of the pay he was used to earning for his screenplays before being blacklisted. He eventually wrote an Academy Award-winning movie called The Brave One in 1957 under the pseudonym “Robert Rich.” In 1960, Kirk Douglas was the star of the movie Spartacus, and he used his influence to make sure Trumbo’s real name was included in the credits for the screenplay. The events of Trumbo’s life were so inspiring that in 2015, the movie Trumbo was made based on his life, starring Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston.

Even though Spartacus was the symbolic gesture that the Hollywood Blacklist was over, the House Un-American Activities Committee continued to exist until 1975.


WABAC to

The Hollywood Blacklist

Expensive Toys for Wealthy Boys (or Girls)

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Ridiculously Expensive Toys

for the Rich

(Not me)

When money isn’t an issue, one can indulge in some very cool and very expensive toys. These include gadgets, vehicles, and toys that are similar to things people with average wealth own, just taken to the extreme. There are also some toys that rich people own that most of us have only seen in movies about the future. Then there are other toys for the rich that are just downright bizarre, but no less expensive. But these toys are all very real and for sale, if you can afford their hefty prices. We’d say that with Christmas coming up you could just ask Santa but let’s be real here, no one has been this good this year.

Expensive Toys for

Wealthy Boys

Christmas All-Time All-Stars – WIF Pop Culture

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 People Who Helped

Define Modern Christmas

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Christmas All-time

 

All-Stars

A MONOPOLY on Board Games

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Interesting Facts

About the Board Game

Monopoly

Monopoly was first produced in 1935 by Parker Brothers, and has been ruining friendships and tearing families apart ever since. Despite how frustrating the game is, it’s considered the world’s most popular and, as of 2009, over 250 million copies have been sold.

 While the game is meant to be played by people of all ages, it is meant to show the dangers of a small group of people accumulating all the wealth. If you’re playing the game, and someone builds hotels all over the board, and you have a house on Baltic Avenue? You have to borrow money before ultimately going bankrupt and losing. It’s annoying in the game, but it would be tragic in real life.

10. Are You Playing the Game Correctly?

Have you ever taken the time to read the rules of Monopoly? Probably not, because an overwhelming amount of people don’t follow the official rules while playing.

One rule that many people didn’t know existed is that if you land on a property and choose not to buy it, the property goes up for auction. The opening bid can start at any price and the highest bidder pays the bank. This speeds up the game and when playing with these rules, it lasts about an hour to 90 minutes. (Another hint if you really want to speed up the game, but isn’t in the official rule book, is to deal out all the properties at the beginning of the game.)

One reason that so many of us play Monopoly the same way, which is different from the official rules, is because Monopoly is so popular, and many people are taught how to play as children. So for generations, no one read the rules, and older generations just taught younger generations to play the way that they were taught. Think about it – do you even remember learning how to play Monopoly? If you can, did you read the instructions, or were you taught to play by someone who already knew?

As for why no one plays the game according to the official rules, it could be because the game is often played by children, and the auctions may have led to fights, so parents omitted the rule and it simply got phased out as the rules of the game were handed down generation-to-generation.

Another common house rule, which isn’t an official rule, is that when fines and taxes are collected, they go into the center of the board and whoever lands on Free Parking wins the jackpot. However, in the official rules, nothing happens when you land on the Free Parking space.

Finally, some people play that you can’t get money while you are in prison, but there is no official rule against that.

Since the house rules and official rules are so different, Hasbro did a study and ended up releasing official House Rules of the game.

9. Three Most Landed on Spots include Illinois Avenue, GO, and B&O Railroad

One thing that might be helpful to winning the game is getting the square that is landed on the most. According to computer scientist Truman Collins, who built a simulation of the game, the square most likely to be landed on is In Jail. This is for several reasons. The first is that if you land on the Go to Jail square, technically you go straight to jail (duh). Secondly, people roll to get out of prison. All of this in addition to landing on the prison square, and you’re just visiting.

The second most landed on square is Illinois Avenue. This is followed by Go, New York Avenue, and rounding out the top five is B&O Railroad. As for the least likely squares to get visits? Those would be the three Chance squares, the Community Chest Square, and Mediterranean Avenue.

When it comes to the most expensive property, Boardwalk, it’s the 18th most likely square to be landed on.

8. The Characters

In Monopoly, there are several different characters and all of them have their own name. The first one is Mr. Monopoly. He is the iconic character who has a three piece suit, a top hat, and white hair. Also, a lot of people seem to remember him having a monocle, but he has never worn one.

It’s unclear who the inspiration for Mr. Monopoly is. Some people think it is famed American banker and financier J.P. Morgan. It certainly would make sense because they look and dress similar, and both are businessmen.

Others believe that it is based on a salesman at Parker Brothers who had business cards with over-the-top caricatures of himself printed on them. Often times he would be wearing a top hat, or riding a train. Finally, it could be based on Little Esky, which is a former mascot of Esquire magazine.

The character wasn’t given a name until 1946, and even then, it wasn’t announced via Monopoly. Instead, he appeared as the mascot on a different game called Rich Uncle. In the game, the Daily Bugle identifies him as Rich Uncle Pennybags, and he is the man who runs the town.

However, in 1999, Hasbro conducted a study and found that many people didn’t know that Rich Uncle Pennybags was his name, so they changed it to Mr. Monopoly.

Of course, there are other characters in the game. On the Community Chest and Chance cards, there is Mr. Monopoly’s wife, Maude, and his three nephews – Randy, Sandy, and Andy. Finally, there is Officer Mallory, who sends people to jail, and Jake, the Jailbird.

7. People Have Killed Each Other Over the Game

If you’ve even been near a group of people playing Monopoly, you know that players can easily get frustrated. All it takes is one flip of the board to end a friendship.

While most adults don’t resort to violence when it comes to their frustrations over Monopoly, some games have spiraled violently out of control. One such game happened in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on October 25, 2011. 60-year-old Laura Chavez and 48-year-old Clyde “Butch” Smith were playing the game with their 10-year-old grandson. At some point, Chavez caught Smith cheating. A fight ensued and the grandson was sent into a bedroom, and that’s when the grandparents got violent.

Smith hit Chavez with a wine bottle, and then she went at him with a knife. He was stabbed and slashed around the chest, neck, and face. Luckily, he survived.

Another tragic fight that stemmed from the game happened on July 19, 1991, in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. Two best friends, 25-year-old Marc Cienkowski and 31-year-old Michael J. Klucznik, were playing Monopoly when a fight broke out. It got physical and several punches were thrown. Cienkowski grabbed his compound bow and an arrow, and told Kluvznik to leave. Kluvznik left, and when he was seated in his car, his best friend fired an arrow into his chest. Kluvznik ended up dying and Cienkowski was sentenced to nine-to-25 years in prison. We like to think the judge told him to go directly to jail, to not pass GO, and to not collect $200 at his sentencing.

6. You Can Win a Game with 2-players in 21 seconds

Games of Monopoly are notoriously long, and can drag on for hours, or even days. On the other end of the scale, Daniel J. Myers, a professor of sociology at Notre Dame, and his son have figured out the quickest way to end a game of Monopoly. It’s just four turns and nine rolls, and the game lasts 21 seconds.

How it would have to work is that player one rolls double sixes and lands on Community Chest, where they receive $200 because of the “Bank error in your favor” card. Next, player two has to land on the Income Tax square. The next turn involves player one getting double twos and landing on Park Place, where they purchase it, and then double ones to land on Boardwalk, which they need to purchase as well. Since they got doubles, then they roll again and pass GO, collecting $200. Once they are past GO, they need to purchase three houses for Park Place and two for Boardwalk. Player two would then land on a Chance square and pick up the “go directly to Boardwalk” card. When they do, they won’t have enough money, and the game is over.

Of course, the chances of this game happening in real life aren’t exactly good. According to a Columbia professor, it would happen once every 253,899,891,671,040 games. So he’s saying there’s a chance.

 5. Best Way to Win

As we’ve already mentioned previously, and will probably continue to mention throughout the article, playing Monopoly can be downright frustrating. However, if you really want to ratchet up the frustration level among your opponents, and win in the process, you should follow this strategy to win, which comes from a Reddit user named Elfie.

Basically, the diabolical plan revolves around the houses. There are 32 in the box, and once the houses are sold out, then no one else can buy one. So the plan is simply to buy up as many houses as you can.

Early in the game, buy a set of properties and build all houses on it (not a hotel). It can also be any set of properties. Later in the game, get a second monopoly and build up houses on each of those properties. If you get two monopolies containing three properties, then that only leaves 8 other houses out there among the rest of the players.

Limiting the number of houses is important because houses are needed to build hotels. By monopolizing the houses, it makes it harder for people to progress, and then you simply outlast them.

Evil, right?

4. The Real Creator was a Woman Who Didn’t Get Credit For Her Invention

The person credited with inventing Monopoly is Charles Darrow, an unemployed heater salesman from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While Darrow created the Monopoly we know today, he ripped off the idea. The real inventor was a stenographer named Elizabeth Magie, who lived in Washington D.C.

Magie worked at night trying to teach people about the evils of monopolies. She was concerned with the accumulation of wealth and power by a small group of families during the Gilded age. She thought that this type of control by a small group of people could lead to monopolies, which could have devastating effects on everyday Americans. The problem was that her message was hard to spread because many people simply weren’t interested in listening.

Looking to spread her message faster, Magie developed The Landlord’s Game in 1903, and got a patent on it in 1904. The game was never mass produced, and instead, the game spread through word-of-mouth. Usually someone would learn the game, and then they would make their own copy of the board and the pieces. In turn, they would teach it to someone else.

One of those people who learned to play the game was Charles Darrow. He pitched the game to Parker Brothers and they eventually bought the rights to it, and gave Darrow a royalty. However, Parker Brothers knew that Magie actually owned the patent on the game. So they contacted Magie and bought the rights to The Landlord’s Game and another game that she developed for $500. But in a massive jerk move, Parker Brothers never intended to mass produce The Landlord’s Game. Instead, they released a few hundred copies of it, but mass produced Monopoly, which became a massive hit. Beyond the $500, Magie didn’t get any other payment or credit for the game. She died in 1948 and her contributions to the game weren’t publicized until the 1970s. Darrow died a millionaire in 1978.

3. The Unusual Story of Marvin Gardens

 There are localized versions of Monopoly, but the original game, and one that most people in North America are familiar with, has all of the properties named after streets or areas in Atlantic City, New Jersey. With one exception, that is: Marvin Gardens, which is supposed to be Marven Gardens.

While it’s a small mistake, it actually shows the interesting history behind Monopoly. When asked why he chose Atlantic City, instead of Philadelphia, where he was born and lived, Charles Darrow said it was because it was his favorite vacation spot.

However, what we know from the last entry is that Darrow didn’t invent the game, he just signed a deal with Parker Brothers to sell it. Before Monopoly’s publication, when people made their boards for The Landlord’s Game, they would localize the street names. Darrow was taught to play The Landlord’s Game by a couple from Atlantic City and when Darrow was given a copy of the board by the couple, it contained the wrong spelling of Marven Gardens. In turn, Parker Brothers copied Darrow’s incorrect board. Making Darrow not only a thief, but a lazy one at that.

In 1995, Parker Brothers apologized to the people of Marven Gardens for the misspelling. However, they have never credited Magie’s contributions to the game. Just wanted to really emphasize that part again.

2. Monopoly was Rejected by Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers

After Magie developed the game, she didn’t get it mass produced because she didn’t want to. She took it to Parker Brothers, twice. Once in 1910, and again in 1924, and both times it was turned down. The reason they gave was that it was too political.

Jump ahead to 1934, and Darrow pitched his version of the game to both Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers. Both of them sent back rejection letters. Part of the creation myth is that Parker Brothers rejected it for 52 fundamental reasons. However, there is no real evidence of that and it definitely does not say it in the rejection letter. The game was rejected unanimously by the executives of Parker Brothers because they thought it took too long to play and was too complex to be popular.

Instead, Darrow used his own money to make 7,500 copies, which sold well in stores in Philadelphia, and Parker Brothers changed their mind and struck a deal with Darrow. From there, the game grew to be the biggest board game in history.

1. Escape Maps Were Smuggled to British POWs during WWII

When it comes to making maps for war, paper is a terrible material for many reasons. For example, it can’t get wet, it rips, it crumples, and so on. A better material for maps is silk, and it has been used for hundreds of years.

During World War II, a printing company that had mastered printing on silk was John Waddington Ltd. The company was used by the British secret service unit MI9, which was the secret service unit for escape and evasion, to print silk maps. Waddington was also the printer of Monopoly for the United Kingdom. An MI9 agent named Christopher Clayton Hutton came up with the idea to put maps and other materials into board games that would be sent to POW camps. Games were often brought into POW camps by humanitarian and charity groups, and the games wouldn’t have drawn too much attention from the enemy.

Inside the Monopoly boxes were hidden compartments that contained compasses, tools, maps, and under the money were real bank notes. There were six different maps created for areas around German POW camps, and other maps for Italy.

They marked the special Monopoly boxes by putting a red dot on the Free Parking space. Also, to figure out where the maps should go, periods were added to the end of specific properties. For example, if it was going to Germany, there was a period after Mayfair, and if it was going to Italy, there would be a period after Marylebone Station (since the game was the UK version, the properties were named after streets in London, not Atlantic City).

Some historians believe that thousands of POWs used the Monopoly games to escape. Since the war, all of the Monopoly escape kits were destroyed.


A MONOPOLY

on Board Games


 

How Beer Changed the World – WIF Fun Historical Facts

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How Did Beer

Change the World?

Beer Video Below

Hybrid cars, computers, those terrible smartphone games everyone’s hooked on: humanity has come a long way since our cave-dwelling, hunting-and-gathering, Quasimodo-looking forefathers. But why? What drove all of these fantastic exhibitions of human achievement?

But first please indulge me.

I have featured beer in other articles over the years:

This would suggest that I am a consumer of said product. To support my claim of partaking in this addictive amber alcohol bubbly beverage, I spent the first 40 years of my life in Wisconsin. That should be ample proof in itself.

Whether it is because of the brutal winters or the proximity to hops & Barley or the immigration of German brew masters to Milwaukee, WI is a beer hotbed.

True Confessions

If I could reach back into time and speak sound advice to a younger meI would recommend abstaining from acquiring a taste for it.

But the ability to change the past is currently unknown or unavailable to us here in 2017 and the horses are already out of the barn.

The key to drinking is not to get drunk. Moderation is a highly underrated state-of-mind.

  1. Sip – don’t Guzzle
  2. Savor the Flavor
  3. Consider the Consequences

This did not start out to be an advice column. Please feel free to chime in & direct your comments to Gwendolyn Hoff c/o Writing Is Fun-damental (the blog you are reading). Perhaps I have missed my calling.

Or perhaps I have changed the course of someone’s life somewhere out there. “Dear younger you.”

–  Gwenny


How Beer Changed the World –

WIF Fun Historical Facts

At-Home Experiments – WIF Mad Science

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– Mad Scientist –

Experiments

You Can Do at Home

Image result for mad science

For any of you who grew up watching the Back to the Future series, Dexter’s Lab, or anything that showcased zany inventions, then you probably love the idea of mad science. Experiments and projects that look really cool, and provide a lot of fun and awe factor, but may not necessarily be something with a lot of practical value. Below are several cool projects that will make you feel like Doc Brown himself.

While these types of projects can be a lot of fun, and a great way to learn new things, some of them can still pose some small dangers. Always exercise caution, especially when working with electricity or tools of any kind.

10. Make Your Own Miniature Tesla Coil

Tesla himself has basically become an internet celebrity, partly because of a Tesla revival movement, but also because the internet tends to appreciate a good showman. The inventor of the Tesla coil knew what he had created, and used it constantly to wow crowds to help increase his funding.

You can make your own smaller version to wow your friends and wow yourself. Using a capacitor, a small lightbulb, some wire and a few other parts, you will be showing everyone what a science genius you are in no time. You can check out the video above for a full tutorial.

9. Make A Sweet Potato Gun For Cheap

Potato guns are a somewhat controversial project — for those who aren’t aware, a potato gun doesn’t shoot whole potatoes, just little chunks from them. They are hardly truly dangerous for the most part, but some people have abused this childhood “weapon,” and gotten it banned in certain localities. However, the truth is that both when building them or trying to use them, the dangers generally come when trying to build an incredibly large pneumatic potato gun.

This is unnecessarily dangerous, especially for what should just be a fun project. In the video above, there is a tutorial from youtube for how to build a small potato gun using an empty spray bottle and a few other fairly common items.

8. Hack A Nerf Gun To Make It Way More Awesome

Most of us remember Nerf guns from our childhoods. They were incredibly cool, decked out in bright colors that excited the children of the time period, and often had all kinds of cool features. Some could shoot in multiple directions, some had secret hidden attachments and so on — they were the epitome of cool. However, the one thing we all wished was that they shot a bit farther and a bit harder.

It’s not like they would have hurt if they hit harder. They were soft foam and rubber, designed to be absurdly safe. However, the manufacturers made sure that the guns would be incredibly lawsuit and fun safe, and kept the pressure on them quite low. Some have found with some tinkering though, that the pressure can actually be increased. In the video a modder takes a nerf gun apart, and shows how to remove the installed inhibitor device that keeps it from shooting as far as it truly has the potential to. With just a little work, you can unleash the true power of the Nerf.

7. Build Your Own Drone For Whatever Fun Purposes You Wish

When most people think of drones, they think of gigantic remote controlled airplanes with bombs that shoot enemies in the Middle East. However, drones are becoming increasingly common, both commercially and as a hobby, and most of them are quite small. The average hobby drone involves a small body with some parts salvaged from old fans, enough electronic equipment to control it remotely, and usually a mounted camera as well.

In the video above, you can see a full tutorial that many hobbyists have found useful. While it takes a little bit of work, the parts are fairly easy to acquire, and the build is within reach for someone without much experience. Alternatively, if you are feeling really cheap, perhaps you could try strapping a GoPro to an RC helicopter.

6. Construct Your Own Theremin At Home

The Theremin is pretty much the musical instrument for mad scientists, and a must have if you want to have both the coolest and nerdiest way to make music possible. For those who aren’t familiar with them, a theremin is an instrument where you essentially move your hands through a magnetic field to make very otherworldly sounding notes. There are not many people who can play a Theremin well, but those who do provide some amazingly haunting sounding melodies.

And now, you can too, without paying huge amounts to buy a large sized Theremin you may never fully take advantage of. With the help of the YouTube tutorial above, you will be well on your way to making your own theremin. An amplifier, and a power supply are going to be some of the biggest ticket supplies you will need, and even those can be acquired for fairly cheap if you aren’t trying to be picky about sound quality.

5. Make Your Remote Controlled Robot Out Of Cheap Materials

Pretty much everyone wants their own robot. Especially those who want to impress their friends, or their enemies, with their knowledge of insane science. While a truly autonomous robot isn’t that practical and requires extremely complex programming, a remote controlled minion can still be very impressive and requires much less effort.

In the video above, you can see a tutorial on how to build a remote controlled robot that can even walk on uneven paths, and looks quite cool doing so. This robot was built with incredibly cheap and easy to use parts, such as styrofoam, glue, small pieces of crafting wood, and a small motor and battery. Most of it is incredibly easy to acquire and safe to work with. Using the same basic principles, you could easily modify the look a bit to make it feel more like your own personal robot minion.

4. Make Your Own Plasma At Home And Impress Your Friends

If you have ever seen a plasma globe, you have probably wanted to own one at least as a passing thought, and many of you probably have splurged on one at one point or another. Plasma globes are extremely cool, especially the way you can move your fingers across the globe to make it dance around inside. For those of you love science projects, making your own plasma globe is actually quite easy — although it won’t be quite as big or impressive as the commercial ones.

In the video above, you can see the full tutorial, but the parts you need will be minimal. A spark coil, a spring, an incandescent lightbulb and a capacitor. You will also need electrical tape, and you will want to read up first on safety precautions for working on electricity if you aren’t already familiar, to ensure that you stay properly grounded, just in case.

3. Make Your Own Solar Powered Radio Using Recycled Materials

For those of you who have ever went camping for a while, you may have brought along a solar powered radio. They can also be incredibly useful if the power goes out, and they often have lights built into them so you can see in an emergency as well. However, if you like to tinker, you can also take your own old radio, then salvage a solar panel from something else and put together your own solar powered radio.

In the video above, you can see an example of how the project can be completed. However, keep in mind that you really don’t need to buy your own solar panel from a manufacturer, as than can be expensive. There are many different, easy to acquire objects, that you could salvage solar panels from. And, if you are feeling really adventurous, you could always make your own solar panels.

2. You Can Build A Segway At Home For A Fraction Of The Price

Many people are familiar with the Segway, a device that was incredibly popular about a decade ago, and was more recently feature in the movie Paul Blart: Mall Cop. For those of the latest generation, a Segway is sort of like those recent hoverboards — the ones that don’t hover — except it has a giant handle on it to make standing long term easier. The segway goes for an asking price of several thousand dollars, and while the recent “hoverboards” are fairly cheap, they have been known to be fire hazards, and generally made as toys for smaller people, and aren’t high quality.

Using the video tutorial below, which also has a link to the original instructable, you can build your own full Segway, with all the power of a real one, for a fraction of the price — just a few hundred dollars. You can learn and get practice in several new skills, and the project is designed to be approachable even if you don’t have prior experience in any of them. If you want a hoverboard, you can just leave off the handle, and feel safer knowing yours is probably less likely to catch on fire abruptly.

1. You Can Do All Kinds Of Fun Experiments With Non-Newtonian Fluids

Making a non-newtonian fluid is really easy to do at home, perfectly safe, and incredibly fun to play with. Non-newtonian fluids are fluids that act differently under stress, and not just due to changes in temperature. One example of this is ketchup, which acts like a solid in the bottle when upside down, until you apply force to change its viscosity. For those who want to experiment with the properties, the best way is to use a mixture of two parts cornstarch to one part water.

Experimenting with it will show very strange results. When hit, it will act like a solid in that particular spot, even while the rest will ripple. If you pick it up and apply force you can form it into a ball, but if you release the force it will turn back into a liquid and drip through your fingers. With a large enough pool of it, you can basically walk across it and when it is put on top of speakers, it moves around like a strange alien being dancing to the music.


At-Home Experiments

WIF Space-001

– WIF Mad Science

From The Desk of Gwendolyn Hoff

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From The Desk of

Gwendolyn Hoff

…If you are reading this post and you are one of the hundreds who have also been reading THE RETURN TRIP, I want to personally thank you for the privilege of sharing my very 1st book…  originally written in 1986…

And truth be told, I had to do mucho updating to make the book currently relevant. As I edited and posted and posted and edited, it was an absolute GAS adding in graphics, music and others’ photography and art into each & every Episode.

If you would bother to take the time and click thru the Episode Catalog – from 1 to The End – what a transformation from 100,000 words into a picture-book-potpourri-experience.

When I envisioned posting one of my books in this fashion (original & my way), I thought it would be a convenient way for readers to take in approx. 400 words/day and be entertained along the way… 10 minutes/day and off you go with life. Finding & keeping a repeatable format from episode to episode was important to me… every day it has that consistent, comfortable comportment.

It is also important that I properly credit each artist or photographer if I use their works to enhance the theme of the day’s post. So, if you click the link to the painting or photo, it may take you to THEIR or another website.

Like many of my “original” creations, it probably will not catch on. I am either to far ahead of my time OR better off doing this 30 years ago … or whenever the Internet hit town.

So as THE RETURN TRIP is in the can, so-to-speak, I proceed undaunted by dubious success. The NULL Solution will begin tomorrow 9/20/2017, virtually where the last book ended, as the saga of the Space Family McKinney soldiers on.

I hope that Sampson, Celeste & Co. have the depth of character necessary to make you want to care ABOUT them, as well as what happens TO them. They have been a part of my life for 30+ years and I am writing a 3rd book in the series (Chariot of Chaos) as I am penning this love letter to all of you.

-Gwenny


From The Desk

of Gwendolyn Hoff