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Finding the ‘golden fleece’

Since RDH Great Stories moved to Lawrence County, Indiana, we have been trying to track down the site of the abandoned pyramid and Great Wall of China models project.

The project began in the late 1970s and was abandoned in the early 1980s, left incomplete. It was the beneficiary of federal funding, but became the subject of considerable criticism.

It was awarded U.S. Sen. William Proxmire’s Golden Fleece Award. The Wisconsin senator issued the awards from 1975 until 1988, when he retired. He presented 168 of the awards.

The Taxpayers for Common Sense in 2000 listed the Bedford project funded by the Commerce Department as the second most classic example of “wasteful, ridiculous or ironic use of the taxpayers’ money.″

How much federal and other government funds were invested in the project is unclear. However, when the plug was pulled, there were insufficient funds to complete, according to published accounts

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Over the past 35 years, the site has gradually deteriorated and is marked with no trespassing signs. The remains are located at the end of a state road near Judah, Ind., surrounded by a quarry, farm land, a cemetery, and homes.

On our third visit, we determined we had found the site. We observed the “no trespassing signs,” but took pictures from the road.

If you know who owns the property, please have them contact us. We’d like to take a closer look and ask a few questions.

All photos by Ronald Hawkins.

Featured

What are the best Christmas movies?

This Turner Classic Movies and movie fan was delighted when Jeremy Arnold, author of “Christmas in the Movies: 30 classics to celebrate the season,” appeared as a guest to introduce a “Christmas movie.”

And better way is there to enjoy a chilly, holiday evening?

The movie was “Beyond Tomorrow, a 1940 movie, this writer knew nothing about. After watching on TCM, however, we began looking at our collection of holiday movies and found the movie in a three-disc collection.

We also went looking to buy the book, but found it was on back order. So we ordered the ebook version.

It is an interesting book with several movies we didn’t think belonged on the list and others we didn’t know much about.

The movies that clearly belonged on the book include Holiday Inn (1942), Scrooge (1951), A Christmas Story (1983), Christmas in Connecticut (1945), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Miracle on 34th Street (1947), The Bishop’s Wife (1947), Love Actually (2003), Home Alone (1990), and The Shop Around the Corner (1940).

On the other hand, Die Hard doesn’t belong in the book even though it takes place during the holidays and has many Christmas elements in it. The movie, however, is far too violent to be a favorite Christmas movie.

Also, how could National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation be one of the 30 and the delightful Santa Clause movies be excluded?

Those weren’t the only movies we think shouldn’t be included. While Elf is a holiday related movie, it isn’t very good. And we’ve also found The Nightmare Before Christmas rather distasteful.

Even though we don’t agree on everything that’s in the book and what’s excluded, books that list what the writers think is best in a particular field almost always are at least entertaining and an inspiration for discussions about what’s in the book. This book is delightfully fun and well worth reading.

You just might find a movie that will make your holidays a fun, festive time.

Here’s the complete list of the 30 movies in no particular order:

  1. Miracle on Main Street
  2. The Holly and the Ivy
  3. White Christmas
  4. We’re No Angels
  5. The Shop Around the Corner
  6. Remember the Night
  7. The Man Who Came to Dinner
  8. Holiday Inn
  9. Christmas in Connecticut
  10. Miracle on 34th Street
  11. It’s a Wonderful Life
  12. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  13. Home Alone
  14. The Nightmare Before Christmas
  15. Remember the Night
  16. Love Actually
  17. A Christmas Story
  18. Die Hard
  19. Gremlins
  20. The Lion in Winter
  21. Meet Me in St. Louis
  22. Beyond Tomorrow
  23. I’ll Be Seeing You
  24. The Apartment
  25. The Bishop’s Wife
  26. 3 Godfathers
  27. Holiday Affair
  28. Trail of Robin Hood
  29. Elf
  30. Little Women

So get a hot beverage, get the movie you pick ready to watch and settle in your favorite seat.

Happy holidays!

Featured

LOC 2018 film registry selections listed

The winter holidays season is a time of many delights, despite what one’s spiritual and/or religious beliefs are.

One of our favorite events, however, is the annual announcement each December by the Library of Congress of 25 films that are being named to the National Film Registry.

Some of these films are well-known award-winning titles, some are highly respected rarely seen titles and others are landmark productions reflecting the times they were made and changes in American culture.

The 25 films just named to the registry include one dealing with alcoholism (Days of Wine and Roses), sexual norms (Brokeback Mountain), the Vietnam War (Hearts and Minds), and the emergence of African-American filmmakers.

There are musicals on the list two including Academy Award-winning best picture My Fair Lady and the Gene Kelly-Frank Sinatra film On the Town.

“Monterey Pop,” 0ne of the best rock music movies ever made, is added to the list. It took place before Woodstock and some of the concert performances filmed are vastly superior to those of the festival that happened later.

For those with a hankering for science fiction and horror films, there are two added this year: Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” and Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.”

Lots of film making giants are reflected in this list including Spencer Tracy (Bad Day at Black Rock), Walt Disney (Cinderella), Paul Newman (Hud), Orson Welles (The Lady from Shanghai), and Alfred Hitchcock (Rebecca).

This is the sort of list that makes one want to learn more about film, particularly about titles that aren’t widely know.

So, take a look at the list and then, if you so choose, watch some of those you don’t know much about it. We recommend it.

Films Selected for the 2018 National Film Registry 
(alphabetical order)

  1. Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
  2. Broadcast News (1987)
  3. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
  4. Cinderella (1950)
  5. Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
  6. Dixon-Wanamaker Expedition to Crow Agency (1908)
  7. Eve’s Bayou (1997)
  8. The Girl Without a Soul (1917)
  9. Hair Piece: A Film for Nappy-Headed People (1984)
  10. Hearts and Minds (1974)
  11. Hud (1963)
  12. The Informer (1935)
  13. Jurassic Park (1993)
  14. The Lady From Shanghai (1947)
  15. Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
  16. Monterey Pop (1968)
  17. My Fair Lady (1964)
  18. The Navigator (1924)
  19. On the Town (1949)
  20. One-Eyed Jacks (1961)
  21. Pickup on South Street (1953)
  22. Rebecca (1940)
  23. The Shining (1980)
  24. Smoke Signals (1998)
  25. Something Good – Negro Kiss (1898)

A Bedford Winter Holiday opening

BEDFORD, IND.

One thing many small towns do just right is celebrate holidays. Bedford kicked off its winter holiday celebration Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, with a variety of activities including a nighttime Christmas parade.

One of the great Bedford holiday attractions across from the Lawrence County Courthouse is the dazzling, multi-story 12 Months of Christmas store, which beginning next spring will be open year round. All photos by Ronald Hawkins.

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Great stories from Bedford Indiana have arrived

 

 

BEDFORD, Indiana

In case you have wondered what happened to RDH Great Stories, we have been in the lengthy process of moving to Bedford, Indiana, in Lawrence County.

This is a beautiful city, far different from the Indianapolis suburban town of Mooresville, which has its own strengths. Bedford is rich in scenic beauty, history and tradition.

Bedford is the self-proclaimed limestone capital of the world. And if you drive down Ind. 37, south of Bloomington, you will quickly see why it has made that claim.

There’s even one mystery we are trying to unravel regarding the abandoned project to build small models in limestone of the Great Pyramid and the Great Wall of China. We’ve been told, since it involved federal  funds, that it was abandoned after being declared the worst example of Congressional pork barrel spending. That’s understandable to some extent, but we would still like to see what remains of the abandoned project.

Still, there are lot more things to see and learn about. For example, Mitchell was the hometown of three astronauts including Virgil Gus Grissom, the second U.S. astronaut in space who died years later during the testing of an Apollo craft.

Grissom’s Mitchell connection is duly noted with signs and an impressive monument at Mitchell Town Hall.

If you drive north to Oolitic, you will find a statue of a nearly forgotten comic character. The statue is a part of a salute veterans.

The character is Joe Palooka, who was featured in an American comic strip about a heavyweight boxing champion, created by cartoonist Ham Fisher in 1921, according to Wikipedia. The strip debuted in 1930 and it was carried at its peak by 900 newspapers.

The strip was eventually adapted for a short-lived, 15-minute CBS radio series, 12 feature-length films, nine Vitaphone film shorts, a 1954 syndicated television series, comic books and merchandise, including a 1940s board game, a 1947 New Haven Clock & Watch Company wristwatch, a 1948 metal lunchbox, and a 1946 Wheaties cereal box cut-out mask. In 1980, a mountain in Pennsylvania was named for the character, according to Wikipedia.

After a 63-year run, it ended Nov. 24, 1984. The impressive statue, however, remains.

Least we forget, Bedford North Lawrence High School, led by star Damon Bailey, won the Indiana High School men’s basketball championship in 1990, when Indiana had only class in the state champship.

There’s lots more that we’ll be covering from our new base, but it seemed to be time to tell you a little bit about Bedford and Lawrence County.

 

All photos by Ronald Hawkins.

All You Need is Love rocks again at Abbey Road on the River

The great All You Need is Love from Belleville, Canada, performs a Beatles song May 28, 2018, at Abbey Road on the River in Jeffersonville, Ind. The audio isn’t the best, but the video shows what dynamic performs these guys are. Video by Ronald Hawkins.

Panel set to help youth avoid smoking

If you live in or near Morgan County, Ind., the event at 6:30 p.m. May 31 in the Monrovia Branch of the Morgan County Public Library, 145 S. Chestnut St., Monrovia, Indiana may be of interest to you and could assist you in preventing the youth around you from taking up smoking or helping them stop if they have already started.

The message below about the event described below iis from Jennifer Walker, executive director of Ready Set Quit Tobacco.

Dear Friend,

Have you ever wondered why youth start smoking, given all the scientific data we know about the harm from tobacco use? Surely, our youth are receiving messages about not using tobacco from their teachers and school administrators, little league teams, scouts and 4-H leaders, right? Indeed, they are!

While no doubt today’s youth are warned about the harm from tobacco use, including smoking cigarettes, chewing tobacco and now electronic cigarettes, we have to wonder, “how do they get started using?”

With all the social issues we face today, why are we concerned about a seemingly insignificant thing like a youth smoking?

Here are a few little-known facts…

o Morgan Co. youth use electronic cigarettes at rates higher than state rates, with increases reported in 2016.

· o Electronic cigarette solutions can have very high concentrations of nicotine leading to impaired adolescent brain development, including susceptibility to addiction.

·o Tobacco use is a gateway drug, much like alcohol and marijuana. It works on the brain receptors of an adolescent’s brain that is not fully developed, leading that youth down the path to addiction, starting with nicotine addiction.

o Reducing tobacco use reduces other substance abuse. Most illicit drug users use tobacco or alcohol prior to illicit drug use. www.nih.gov/…/news…/nih-study-examines-nicotine-gateway-drug.

o Among current smokers in the U.S., 24.1% report illicit drug use compared with 5.4% of nonsmokers. www.in.gov/…/MH_and_Substance_Use_Disorders_October_2015.pdf
o If smoking continues at the current rate among U.S. youth, 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 years of age are expected to die prematurely from a smoking-related illness. This represents about one in every 13 Americans aged 17 years or younger who are alive today.

Tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides COMBINED.

You are encouraged to attend a Community Conversation about Tobacco Marketing to Youth
Keynote presenter: Kristinia Love, Executive Director, Morgan County Substance Abuse Council

Moderator: Ronald Hawkins, RDH Great Stories

Panel: Annabelle Hadley, 8th grade Student, Monrovia Middle School

Ted & Shelley Voelz, Co-Directors, St. Thomas More Free Clinic

Tina Jacob, C.H.E.S., Health Education and Volunteer Manager, Little Red Door Cancer Agency

Questions? Call Jennifer Walker at 317-306-1282 or email: Jennifer@readytoquit.org

NIDA-funded research in mice shows that nicotine primes the brain to enhance cocaine’s effects.
NIH.GOV