Archive for the ‘Thursday’s Top Ten’ Category

I bet you think this is going to a list of badly-acted B movies.  Well, not exactly!  Some are certainly in questionable taste and others….you’ll see and decide for yourself.


I  love Edward Norton and his performance in this movie is one of his best and also probably the most upsetting.  He portrays a young man drawn into Neo-Fascist community –  from quiet teen to violent adult.  The movie is bleak and replete with scenes of shocking violence and jaw-dropping racisim.


Janvier  Bardem was acclaimed for his performance here, scooping awards at Cannes and even getting nominated for an Oscar. To receive the nomination, the judging committee had to watch this film once, but I doubt they could bear to sit through it again. Bardem plays a drug dealer diagnosed with terminal cancer, and the combination of the dark and disturbing world matched with Bardem’s ever-worsening situation marks this as one of the finest films you’ll never, ever want to see again. Don’t be fooled by the title.


Requiem for a Dream completely will blow you away the first time you see it. Maybe this is the movie they should show to kids in middle school to convince them not to do drugs? Because it’s way more effective than any after-school special. Once you see what Jennifer Connelly gets herself into just to score some dope, you’ll never be the same.

The Birth Of A Nation

The Birth Of A Nation


This movie is considered one of the first ever movies in the sense that we see them today-with a coherent story, use of jump cuts, and a long running time, which is all good.  But then you  realize the movie is a heartily enthusiastic celebration of the Ku Klux Klan.  Real film buffs and historians will find it worth watching but for the rest of us, a grim example of days gone by to be left on the shelf.


Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Anthony Burgesse’s “unfilmable” dystopian novel is now seen as a seminal movie-but at the time was banned and panned for it’s constant violence and the depiction of rape. A Clockwork Orange is a difficult movie to talk about, because it’s one of those ‘you have to see it for yourself’ kind of films.


Director Lynch excelled himself here with The Elephant Man. The movie tells the true-ish story of John Merrick, played by British thespian actor, John Hurt, a grotesquely deformed man with a heart of gold.  The film shows the despairing plight of humanity and is just too depressing to watch twice. The performances are amazing and the prosthetics  brilliant.

The Road

The Road


I read the book, shivering through most of it and yet had this yearning to see the movie.  As graphic and dismal as the book was, it’s nothing compared to the cold bleak relentless scenes shot in shades of gray.  It’s the story of a man trying to keep his son and self alive in a post-apolcayptic  wasteland.  Full of misery but performed beautifully.

Sophie's Choice

Sophie’s Choice


The film itself has become a byword for onscreen misery, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t see the  film once. Meryl Streep’s performance is typically brilliant-she allegedly only shot the “choice” scene with one outcome, and refused to perform the other.  The tale of her struggling with what she did during the second world war is harrowing and devastating in equal measure. It might be almost synonymous with sadness, but it’s something you have to see to appreciate fully.


Frankly I couldn’t bring myself to watch this movie even once.  Every time I saw the trailer I had to turn away.  The story line is about greed, power and human sacrifices.  In the Maya civilization, a peaceful tribe is brutally attacked by warriors seeking slaves and human beings for sacrifice for their gods. Jaguar Paw hides his pregnant wife and his son in a deep hole nearby their tribe and is captured while fighting with his people. An eclipse spares his life from the sacrifice and later he has to fight to survive and save his beloved family.


I was exhausted after watching this film.  Filled with horrible violence, filth and poverty, it’s quite a snapshot of life in the Five Points in New York City.  At one point I actually did leave the screening room and fled to the ladie’s room to avoid one of the bloodiest scenes.  The narrative and characters are weak but the general sweep and spectacle of the whole thing makes it worth a look. I’ll seen any movie Scorcese does, so I went, but I’ll never watch it again.

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Do you think Baby Boomers invented ThrowBack Thursday as a way to continue touting everything we did or had was better and best?  TBT affords us a stage and setting to look back affectionately on our school days, our toys and to desperately try to hold onto that powerful position we held for so long in the news, the culture and well just about everything.  Just musing….

Anyway it is TBT and here at Pbenjay it is also Thursday’s Top Ten so let the list begin;

1. Skate Key and Metal Roller Skates

Love the Skate Key

Love the Skate Key

Long gone are the days of roller skating along the sidewalks and driveways we once knew.  Nowadays yes kids do roller skate but they are wearing shoe skates – WoW just like what only professional skaters wore when I was growing up or you got to wear them if you went to a skating rink.  Learning to skate is hard enough but when you are dragging clunky metal skates along with you and wearing real shoes so your skates can stay attached to the toe of your shoe, well that’s a whole other experience!  And you hung your skate key around your neck so you wouldn’t lose it!

2. Church Key and Miss Rheingold

A Key To Open A Church

A Key To Open A Church

Pretty Miss Rheingold

Pretty Miss Rheingold

I’m sure just about everybody still has one of these can openers but did you know it was called a Church Key?  I wrote about the origin of that term previously – see blog post: https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/once-common-now-obscure-do-you-know-what-these-phrases-mean/ And let’s not forget Miss Rheingold!  Every year, the photos of 10 or more gorgeous women would be on a poster in the package stores (yes I lived in CT and that’s what we called them) and people would fill out a form and vote for the prettiest Miss Rheingold.

3. No Draft Window

Don't Catch A Draft

Don’t Catch A Draft

At one time this small triangular window was standard equipment on every American automobile. Some folks called it the “no-draft” (its official name), some called it the “vent,” and others (including my Mom) called it the “wing.” Whatever the name, the purpose was the same: in those days when air conditioning was a very expensive option and opening the main driver side and passenger windows caused too much turbulence (not to mention noise) the no-draft provided quiet yet efficient air circulation while driving during warm weather.

4. S & H Green Stamps

S & H Green Stamps

S & H Green Stamps

I used to love pasting the green stamps into the books and constantly checking and re-checking the number of books we had and looking in the catalog as to what we might get.  Green stamps were given out with purchases at grocery stores and gas stations and many other places.  Quite the incentive to shop where they were given out, sort of like points on your American Express card.  This was pretty much a 1950’s thing but I think I may have to admit still collecting some in the 60’s! 

5. Typewriter Eraser

Typewriter Eraser

Typewriter Eraser

Even after White-Out and correction tape were commonly available, neither worked well on onion skin (a type of very thin paper regularly used for multiple carbon copies…perhaps we need to add a twelfth item to this list…) and typewriter erasers were still a necessity. The abrasive end was used like a regular pencil eraser, and then the typist brushed away the resultant debris with the bristle end.

6. Motel Wall-Mounted Bottle Opener

Wall Mounted Bottle Opener

Wall Mounted Bottle Opener

Some older roadside accommodations still have a bottle opener mounted on the bathroom wall, but a lot of the guests in those cases are stumped enough to ask the front desk, “What the heck is that thing?” We refer you back to the bottle-opening end of the church key and further explain that pop machines (“soda machines” to you heathens) at most motels in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s dispensed pop the way God intended – ice cold in 10-ounce glass bottles with a small ring of ice floating in the neck. There was a bottle opener included on the machine, but a lot of folks preferred to wait until they returned to the sanctuary of their room before they popped the cap off and enjoyed that first refreshing sip. And then there were those (wink-wink) who eschewed the pop machine but traveled instead with a cooler full of beer. That’s why the opener was usually mounted in the bathroom – all that beverage spillage was easier to mop up off a tile floor rather than have it soak into the carpeted areas of the room.

7. Pull Tabs

Pull Tabs

Pull Tabs

In between cans requiring a church key and today’s pop tops there were pull tab soda and beer cans. The convenience of not requiring an opener was revolutionary, but the innovation came with a downfall: a new type of litter. Instead of disposing of their pull tabs responsibly, many folks simply discarded them on the ground before chugging away. Walking barefoot on the beach in the 1960s and ’70s was often something of an obstacle course; those tabs weren’t always immediately visible, but they were razor-sharp, and savvy sunbathers included Band-Aids in their picnic baskets for the inevitable sliced toe.

8. Self-Service Tube Tester

Test Your Tubes Here

Test Your Tubes Here

30-plus years ago when a TV went on the fritz you called the TV Repair Man. He was so ubiquitous that he made house calls, but his services were expensive (and today’s Cable Guy has taken the TV Repair Man’s vague “I’ll be there sometime between X and Y o’clock” promise to a new level). Since a good percentage of the TV malfunctions back then were due to malfunctioning vacuum tubes, DIY Dads started diagnosing and replacing the tubes on their own, saving both time and money. Almost every drugstore, hardware store, and even grocery store had a self-service tube testing machine stashed among the gumball and cigarette machines. Dad (or Mom or whoever) simply brought whichever tubes he thought suspect and tested them on the machine to see whether they were functional. If the tube in question was kaput, there was a wide selection of brand new tubes stocked in the cabinet underneath the machine available for purchase.

9. The Palmer Method

The Palmer Method

The Palmer Method

Learning the Palmer Method of longhand now known as cursive, with the Sisters of No Mercy (oops I mean Mercy) was hard enough, I can’t imagine being a lefty and trying to write on the slant, paper tilted and all.  My classroom at St. John’s looked just like this photo.  The alphabet banner was posted above the blackboard and the pull-down maps right below.  Maps on a roller like a window shade.

10. Smith Brothers Cough Drops

Smith Brothers Black Cough Drops

Smith Brothers Black
Cough Drops

I remember these well, and Luden’s Cherry Cough Drops.  When we were kids, any little sniffle and cough was a reason to ask for a box of these candies, er cough drops.

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Looking back over the years and some many things have come and gone from the life I knew!  Throw Back Thursday is the perfect time to show those readers of this blog that are younger than 55.  Personally I’ve had or used every one of these vintage items which only goes to prove I’m a woman of a certain age.

I have such vivid memories of these metal wire pants stretchers.  My father’s work pant were put on them right out of the washer and when they dried they didn’t need to be ironed.

Pants Stretcher

Pants Stretcher

Rubber pants went together with cloth diapers and have the way of them too.  Pampers came along and combined the absorbancy of cotton and the water-proofing that the rubber pants provided and eliminated the stinky diaper pail too!

Rubber Pants

Rubber Pants

We had pencil boxes, rulers, protractors, erasers, library paste AND Mucilage, aka LePage’s Glue.



Wherever did the tradition of bronzing baby shoes go to?  My baby shoes were bronzed and I bronzed my son’s first baby shoes, now I see them at Flea Markets.  I think parents should start doing this again, they’re really cute.

Bronzed Baby Shoes

Bronzed Baby Shoes

If you had straight hair growing up like I did, then at some point you probably convinced your mother to give you a perm, a Toni, to be exact. It NEVER came out the way they showed it on television.  I always had frizzy hair for months and it smelled too.

Shirley Temple Curls

Shirley Temple Curls

Neil Sedaka sang about them, many of us wrote in them daily, kept them hidden in our underwear drawer, filled with teenage angst.  Mine was pale blue, what color was yours?



Now there are rows and rows of hair products in every drugstore, discount store and supermarket.  Way back in the dark ages of the 50’s there weren’t quite so many BUT there was Dippity-Do and a couple of colors too!

Sticky Icky Dippity-Do

Sticky Icky Dippity-Do

Summer Glasses

Summer Glasses

We had iced tea in these cool looking glasses and we only used them in the summer.  

Speaking of glasess, I received a set of these glasses in their own wire carrier as a wedding gift in 1968.  We all had fancy Highball glasses.

Wedding Present

Before computers, tablets, and iPads, all of my friends and myself carried 3 ring notebooks to school.  You could fill it with a hundred sheets of paper and divide the paper into sections marked with plastic tabbed dividers.  There was a mechanical snap lock that you would press hard to snap open the the 3 rings and remove a piece or two of paper.  Sometimes you weren’t careful and one of the holes tore through.  Gummed Reinforcements to the rescue.                                  


Mucilage “Gummies”   

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New York Telephone Co.

New York Telephone Co.

How many of my readers know who I’m referring to?  There was a time way back when the term Ma Bell was known to us all (well those of us of a certain age)   anyway.  The following  explanation comes from Wikipedia:

“The colloquial term Ma Bell (as in “Mother Bell”) was often used by the general public in the United States to refer to any aspect of this conglomerate, as it held a near complete monopoly over all telephone service in most areas of the country, and is still used by many to refer to any telephone company. Ma Bell is also used to refer to the various female voices behind recordings for the Bell System: “

But what you say does that have to do with the photo in this blog?  What you are looking at is a mechanical pencil with a silver ball on top.  This one is a vintage premium from the New York Telephone Co., which was part of the Bell Telephone system.  I found some more information on the web site, Tele Truth. Below is an except:

from “The Unathorized Bio of the Baby Bells & Info-Scandal” updated December 2001)

“For over 100 years, Ma Bell, sometimes called the “Bell System” sometimes called “AT&T”, controlled almost all telecommunications in the US. Once the largest company in the world with over one million employees, the company consisted of 22 local Bell companies, (including New York Telephone and Ohio Bell), AT&T Long Lines, (the long distance division) as well as Western Electric, (the subsidiary that manufactured telephone equipment) and Bell Labs, one of the premier research organizations.

Then in 1984, because of the monopoly control the company had over phone service, the company was broken-up and the local Bell phone companies were divvied up among seven, artificially created, very large companies called “Regional Bell Operating Companies” (RBOCs, pronounced “R-BOKS”) or sometimes the “Regional Bell Holding Companies” (RHC) and sometimes “The Baby Bells”.

Please note: AT&T no longer has any ownership relationship with the Bell companies. However, in our 1993 consumer survey, we found that about 1/4 of the population thought that AT&T still owned the Bell companies. Meanwhile 5% still call the companies “Ma Bell”, or the “Bell Company”.

Each company controls specific geographic regions of the US. For example, Ameritech controlled a five-state region: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

This diagram gives the original Baby Bells, the phone company(s) it controlled, and the state(s).

Today, because of numerous mergers, there are only 4 Bells:
  • BellSouthSBC Communications, which owns Southwestern Bell, Pacific Bell, Ameritech, SNET
  • Verizon, which owns Bell Atlantic, NYNEX, and GTE
  • Qwest, which now owns US West

However, there is mass confusion on the part of the customers, not only because of these mergers, but also because of the various name changes.”

Now that you have the deep background on how Bell telephone which once monopolized the communications network was dismantled by the government.  If they had foreseen the future with so many household NOT using hard line phone service, perhaps Ma Bell would have self-destructed anyway.

But here’s the real purpose of Throwback Thursday – who remembers rotary phones?  The ball tip of the pencil was meant to save your manicure as you dialed a number.  Cute huh?

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I guess that’s a pretty crazy title and I better explain it.  If you think this one’s weird, I almost titled it CATCHING BEES WITH HONEY AND HOW TO CLEAN.  Enough – this is Thursday’s post and so I have some top tips for you.  Not 10 this week, just 9 BUT they are really good to know. 

Your Clean Machine in a Bottle

Your Clean Machine in a Bottle

Cleaning from within  was my attempt at cleverness – look within your kitchen cabinet and find that bottle of white vinegar which is probably way in the back because you haven’t used it since Easter when you mixed dyes for Easter eggs.

White vinegar, unassuming and cheap! It’s your miracle method for cleaning and it’s antibacterial too.  Let’s start in the kitchen.

1.  CUTTING BOARDS:  If you’re cleaning your cutting boards with water or bleach (oh no!) then STOP right now.  Wash the board with white vinegar and scrub it with a rough sponge or brush.  Vinegar is safe for human consumption, bleach is not!

2. SPONGES:  Just like the cutting board, vinegar is your best bet for cleaning and disinfecting your germ-prone sponges.   Soak your sponges in white distilled vinegar overnight. In the morning, rinse the sponges in cold water, then allow to dry naturally.

3.  COUNTER TOPS:  Your counters see a lot of direct contact with food, raw meat, and human hands…so not a good combination!  Unlike water, vinegar disinfects your counters, and is safer than bleach or harsh chemicals. From this day forward, vinegar is your counter top’s new best friend! Simply mix equal parts white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, spray and wipe!

4.  FRUIT AND VEGETABLE SUPER CLEANER: You definitely need to give your store bought produce a good washing. The process of farm-to-table is loaded with pesticides and wax coatings (gross right?). Clean with vinegar!  Use your sink or large basin and fill halfway with lukewarm water and 1 cup of vinegar.  Wash the vegetables, rinse with water and let dry – you will NOT taste any vinegar.  Vinegar is a particularly fab way to wash your fruits and veggies because it easily breaks down the wax coating and kills bacteria and mold. No joke, the editors of Cook’s Illustrated set out to find the most effective way to wash fruits and vegetables, and vinegar came out the clear winner, beating antibacterial soap, water and just a scrub brush in removing bacteria.  I wipe fresh strawberries with a paper towel soaked in a water and white vinegar mix.

5.  WILTED GREENS:  White vinegar can work wonders on wilted, tired lettuce.  Soak the leaves in a bowl with 2 cups of cold water and 1 tablespoon white vinegar for 10 minutes. Finish with a hearty rinse. If you plan to use the lettuce in salad, dry it using a salad spinner and use a vinegar dressing like apple cider vinegar, balsamic or red wine.

6.  CARPET STAINS: Here’s a no-fail recipe; Fill a spray bottle of 1:1 ratio of vinegar to water.  Spray it directly on the carpet stain, and after letting it sit for a few minutes, dab (press down, don’t rub) the spot. Be sure to test the solution out on a small portion of your carpet before cleaning with vinegar, just in case. Vinegar is able to get out almost everything, 

7.  WINDOWS:  It’s finally sunny and pleasant out, yay! Time to let the glorious sunlight into your home by giving your windows the best clean of their lives! Mix  1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup vinegar, and 4 drops of dish soap. First spray the windows and wipe clean with a (microfiber is best!) cloth. The real secret to streak free windows is to wipe dry with newspaper.

8.  REMOVING OLD WALLPAPER:  Difficult wallpaper is no match for white vinegar! Apartment Therapy’s Kate Legere found that cleaning with vinegar, or dousing really, was the only way to remove 20 year old wallpaper. Her technique calls for boiling hot water, vinegar, and a spray bottle. First she removed all possible wallpaper, then mixed equal parts boiling water and vinegar into a spray bottle. After a liberal spraying session, she waited for 5-10 minutes then gently scraped away the stubborn wallpaper with a putty knife. The tougher spots took a few more vinegar and scraping sessions, but after an afternoon, the 80s wallpaper was completely removed.

9.  COLOR RESTORER:   The best way to restore color and vibrancy to carpets is by cleaning with vinegar.  Mix together in a foam dispenser: 2 teaspoons vinegar, 1 teaspoon household ammonia, 4 tablespoons liquid dishwasher detergent, and 1 cup of water.  Apply the foam solution directly, and blot with a sponge. Divide up the total surface into small areas to maintain your focus. For sturdy fabrics, scrub with a flat brush to work in the vinegar.

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How can I name the Top Ten ice cream flavors, I mean really?!  This is just so subjective and for me the list revolves around moods, places and anything else lol.  Of course I have my old standbys, who doesn’t ?  What are yours? Want to share? Please do, wouldn’t it be great if the comment section of this blog  were filled with ice cream flavors and then whenever we wanted to drool, we could just pull up the page and lick the screen.  

This is clearly not the first time ice cream and ice cream flavors have found their way into this blog, oh no!  See this previous post, https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/so-many-flavors-so-little-time/ and your vicarious taste buds will be activated.

So here goes in a true stream of consciousness today’s list of the TOP TEN Ice Cream flavors that come to mind AND are not in any order of importance – they’re just there this Sunday morning when I haven’t had my coffee or breakfast yet – this should be an interesting list ha, ha, ha.

So Many Flavors So LIttle Time

So Many Flavors So LIttle Time

1.  JAVA JOLT:  A delightful mildly sweet coffee ice cream with chunks of dark chocolate and dark chocolate syrup swirled through it.

2. CHOCOLATE MINT CHIP:  A minty green ice cream with tiny square dark chocolate chips throughout. This one is a real oldie and has become a classic

3.  MALTED MILK BALL: OMG when I found this flavor at an ice cream shop in Neptune, I couldn’t wait to taste it – such a throwback to a childhood favorite.

4. ALMOND TURTLES: If you’ve ever traveled to the South and picked up some of those famous chocolate “Turtles”, you know what I’m talking about.

5. PEANUT BUTTER MOOSE TRACKS: Definitely one of my “go-to” flavors for a peanut butter fix.  Thinks vanilla ice cream with chocolate swirls and chunks of peanut butter chips – Yeah you got the picture!

6. CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER: This speaks for itself doesn’t it?  Rich chocolate ice cream with chunks of peanut butter in it. God is good.

7. ALMOND JOY:  The only thing better than chocolate and peanut butter is chocolate and coconut with some almonds thrown in!!

8. CREAMSICLE: Oh my shades of the Good Humor man! Orange sherbet and vanilla ice creme blended.

9. PISTACHIO: Such an old time favorite and so good, never say no to pistachio!

10. PUMPKIN: Definitely seasonal so when it’s out, I eat as much as I can in those two months of the year it appears.

Just TEN for today, but then again it’s till before noon so after our brunch, who knows……

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Ahhh lemons! They herald the coming of Spring (but are available all year long as long as you don’t care too much about their carbon footprint) and add a splash of color or a splash of zing to just so many things.  If you read this blog regularly then you know that many of my recipes call for lemon juice or lemon zest.  Put a bowl of lemons and limes on your kitchen table and the whole room lights up and puts a smile on your face.  How is it that two fruits so tart and sour can be so sweet?  

Lemons are USEFUL – see previous blog https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/sooooo-when-life-gives-you-lemons/ and you’ll discover many uses for lemons.  Today’s blog, another Ode to Lemons is all about the benefits of hot lemon water!  Yes, that’s right, HOT LEMON WATER.  I know some of you must have had grandmothers or mothers who, every morning, drank a cup of warm lemon water – believe me they knew what they were doing!

Here are 16 ways in which drinking hot/warm lemon juice will benefit your health!

Lemon is an excellent and rich source of vitamin C, an essential nutrient that protects the body against immune system deficiencies

Lemons contain pectin fiber which is very beneficial for colon health and also serves as a powerful antibacterial

It balances maintain the pH levels in the body

Having warm lemon juice early in the morning helps flush out toxins

It aids digestion and encourages the production of bile

It is also a great source citric acid, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium

It helps prevent the growth and multiplication of pathogenic bacteria that cause infections and diseases

It helps reducing pain and inflammation in joints and knees as it dissolves uric acid

It helps cure the common cold

The potassium content in lemon helps nourish brain and nerve cells

It strengthens the liver by providing energy to the liver enzymes when they are too dilute

It helps balance the calcium and oxygen levels in the liver In case of a heart burn, taking a glass of concentrated lemon juice can give relief

It is of immense benefit to the skin and it prevents the formation of wrinkles and acne

It helps maintain the health of the eyes and helps fight against eye problems

Aids in the production of digestive juices

Lemon juice helps replenish body salts especially after a strenuous workout session

Packed with all the goodness, make it a point to begin your day with a glass of warm lemon juice. Its cleansing and healing effects will have positive effects on your health in the long run. However it is very important to note that lemon juice when comes directly in contact with the teeth, can ruin the enamel on the teeth. Hence, it is advised to consume it diluted and also rinse your mouth thoroughly after drinking lemon juice.

Source: http://www.undergroundhealth.com/health-benefits-of-drinking-warm-lemon-water/

And a shout-out and thanks to Gail, my favorite sourcer-er for sending me this article.

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