Disney Girls Gone By

Shelley Fabares and Doreen Tracey

Annette is gone, and so is my favorite Mouseketeer, Cheryl Holdridge. Being concerned with things closer to home recently, I failed to notice the passing of Doreen Tracey last week. Doreen was one of the Mouseketeers who made the cut to the teenage material Disney produced later, that introduced soap opera elements of romance and conflict between the kids. The only Disney Girl in this picture I didn’t have a crush on was the one every other boy lusted after — Annette. Shelley Fabares was a regular in the cast, and she became BFF with Annette. Shelley is, thankfully, still with us, having survived a serious illness that required a liver transplant.

Cheryl Holdridge, Shelley Fabares, Annette (no last name needed), Doreen Tracey

There is a Table, Turn, Turn, Turn

Among other potential uses for the logo picture in the upper left corner, I’m posting the covers to some of the albums I’ve been playing. With all of the buzz about the resurgence in interest for vinyl records as a music medium, I never stopped listening to them.

Thorens TD-166 Mk II turntable with Ortofon Super OM20 cartridge.

I bought this high-quality German-made turntable new 35 years ago, and as you can see it’s still in excellent condition. As a small retirement project I have done a bit of work on it, so it is now working perfectly. The RCA plugs were shorting, so I snipped them off and soldered on new connectors, with the most modest of soldering kits.

There is a very active online community for vintage Thorens turntables. The rim of the platter on my record player was looking quite dull and it was slightly pitted in spots. One tip I picked up from the online forums is that the rim can be shined up very nicely by polishing it with a fine grade of steel wool. It took only 15-20 minutes of effort to get the shiny finish seen in the picture. The rubber belt for the turntable was loose and starting to crack, so I ordered a new one. There are a lot of knock-offs for turntable belts, but mine is from Thorens. Before installing it I cleaned off a lot of rubber residue left behind on the motor pulley by the old belt. I finished my project by installing and aligning a new phono cartridge. An alignment jig came with the turntable, and after using it I checked the stylus by downloading a free protractor and printing it on card stock to ensure accuracy. The alignment checked out as being spot-on. Yay!

Next I need to turn my attention to my 300-disc Sony CD carousel. The CX-335 began fading a few years ago, and eventually became completely non-functional, which is why records have been my primary retirement music medium. There are three rubber belts that are shot and need replacing — one for the door, another for the carousel’s turntable, and the third is for the loading mechanism. As with turntable belts, generic versions are everywhere, but to my surprise Sony makes OEM parts available online, and I now have two sets of belts on hand.

Sony CX300-series CD Carousel Changer

I’m still dealing with my late father’s estate-related matters, but that isn’t fun, and having First World hobbies to indulge is good at keeping me distracted from the stitched-up mess on my scalp. The first follow-up exam with the plastic surgeon is in a couple of days. So far, I feel pretty much the same as it did exactly one week ago upon leaving the hospital. There are a couple of puffy areas, an occasional sharp twinge, and a fairly regular tingling sensation.

The Failure of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism

I have watched this installment of “Frontline” three, or maybe even four, times since it first aired in 2009. If anything I think it goes easy on Bill Clinton, by not pointing out that at the end of his administration he agreed to ending the Glass-Steagall Act.

Mr. A by Ditko

Steve Ditko’s take on Ayn Rand’s philosophy deals with good vs. evil in terms of violent criminal activity, as you would expect from a comic book creator. As covered in the Frontline documentary, former SEC chairman Alan Greenspan adopted the extreme free market aspect of Rand’s Objectivism, as you would expect from an economist.

I like to think the fictional Mr. A would agree with me that what the Wall Street banks did by taking advantage of deregulation to commit legal fraud, in both its intent and the outcome of ten years ago, was corrupt and evil. Therein is what I see as the inherent irony of Ayn Rand’s philosophy.

The Peasants Are Revolting

I stopped watching “The Simpsons” after the third season, mostly because I was extremely busy, not only working but also being a new father. Now I’m an old father, and retired, so I’ve been recording “The Simpsons” on the TiVo OtA DVR. Now that I’m recuperating from surgery, I’ve started watching the episodes. The 28th (!) season opener puts the yellow-skinned denizens of Springfieldland in a fanciful medieval feudal society. Maybe it’s supposed to be a parody of “Game of Thrones,” but I don’t know because I don’t watch it.

Anyway, while watching the Simpsons I was reminded of a BBC historical documentary series I had seen maybe ten years ago, created and presented by Monty Python alumnus Terry Jones. I was hoping it’s on YouTube, and here it is.

Sadly, Jones now suffers from a form of dementia that has robbed him of the ability to communicate, so we don’t know if he retains any of his cleverness and wit. By chance, just a week ago Michael Palin had this update on his old chum’s condition. Palin and Jones had worked together years before “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” Most notably in what was ostensibly a children’s show, but it became one of the precursors to Python. The delightful series “Do Not Adjust Your Set,” which also featured the wacky and wonderful Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.

“Alexa, Where’s the Nearest Chinese Laundry?”

Thankfully, I have had only two bouts of lower back trouble. The first time was almost ten years ago, as posted here. What got me moving again were a couple of Percocets. I was amazed at the immediate relief the drug provided, but it made me feel terribly sick. One tablet would have been enough, and I later commented to my primary care physician that I couldn’t imagine becoming addicted. He replied, “You’re not a 15-year-old with a football injury. They have a very different reaction. It makes them feel great.”

So here we are, once again struggling with opium as a nation and a society, centuries after the first crisis. My buddy Denro sent a link with a brief history from the Smithsonian.

“It’s a poor town now-a-days that has not a Chinese laundry,” a white opium-smoker said in 1883, “and nearly every one of these has its layout” – an opium pipe and accessories.

So far, post-op I’m doing all right with Tylenol and Celebrex. I have a prescription for an opiate painkiller, but do not anticipate having it filled. By the way, my original post regarding back pain turned out to be wrong. The problem was a simple muscle spasm, and taking a muscle relaxant would have been just as effective as the Percocet. After the second time my lower back gave me trouble, a physical therapist told me the best preventive measure is doing push-ups, and he was right.