Tag: Nostalgia

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

Read Part One here and Part Two here. As we pulled out of the college complex and its air-conditioned world of elevators and babies, my sister cried. She had bonded with one of the young married ladies whose card-playing circle had been so friendly to us. I internally rolled my eyes, not happy to have […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. D.C. and Other Adventures, Part Two

 

Read Part I here.

Arizona and the swimming pool far behind us, ensconced in our plush burgundy interior, we pressed on toward our vague summer destination in D.C. as the American landscape flashed past our windows. Long trips can mean being entertained by small things, such as the trick of the eye where, if you fix your gaze on the telephone poles, your vision will slide up the pole and down the drooping wires in a repetitive, undulating motion.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Caretakers

 

I work in technology. I write the software that moves machines, that gets embedded in factory equipment and automates the making of things. I’ve been doing it a long time for a man of my (ahem) youth, and I’ve seen a lot of change.

Three decades ago I happened to be the fellow who introduced a particular kind of automation to a then-thriving industry called library conservation. This industry was never large but it was once hugely profitable, a cozy collection of minor magnates whose family fortunes were made binding and re-binding library books, one expensive volume at a time. Part of that profitability stemmed from their habit of meeting each year to fix prices across the industry. Photographs of such meetings, of rooms full of well-dressed, cigar-chomping, portly men of means boldly pushing the bounds of anti-trust law, capture a bit of the flavor of the “age of industry”; no gathering of today’s high tech billionaires would feature so many black ties or gray hairs, nor look so happily, contentedly, gloriously criminal.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Sound of Melancholy and Nostalgia

 

Released in 1962, “Champa Battambang” was a big hit for the composer/lyricist/vocalist Sinn Sisamouth. But the song would be immortalized in the Khmer psyche in the years following the fall of the Khmer Rouge. We’ll get to that part in a moment, but first the song and its title: champa is the name of a flower (magnolia champaca) and Battambang is the name of a province in northeast Cambodia.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. History and the Vector of Shame

 

Perhaps you have seen the meme that shows WWII soldiers and says something along the lines of “they stormed the beaches for us, we’re just being asked to stay on our couches.” As far as exhortations to stay home go, I suppose it is one of the less annoying and more anodyne ones, but it’s still full of a smug, pompous, and scornful shame directed at us today, extolling the virtues of our honored ancestors over and against the alleged sins of our current generation.

It absolutely reeks of the sort of derision that says “not only are you no better than them, but you’re actually likely a great deal worse since we have to nanny you into staying in your own home.” It is an appeal to heroic nostalgia for a sepia-toned and non-existent past, where somehow the people were “more real,” more manly (or womanly) than today. Putting aside my general annoyance with such nannyism, as a perpetual student of history, I also have to cry foul over the comparison and call it what it is: bilge.

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Look at this picture for a minute. Why are these children spiffed up in dated clothes? Why are they lifting their feet? Maybe it’s a school event, but if so, why the clutter in the corner?  More

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Toys of Christmas Past

 

“No one ever forgets a toy that made him or her supremely happy as a child, even if that toy is replaced by one like it that is much nicer.” Stephen King

“‘Tis the season,” so they say, so now I offer up something light, silly, and hopefully a little fun. Because I am Mr. Fun! All my friends say so, right? Right? (Nobody here except us crickets, man.) Ahem. Well, be that as it may, I got caught up in a conversation the other day about the toys we had as kids. Sure, it’s not an uncommon conversation, but whenever they start, it quickly evokes the same feelings of competitive envy I had when I was nine, when everyone would go back to school and compare notes on who got what for Christmas.

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There’s been a lot of reflection in 2018 about the year 1968, a half century past. Generally regarded as one of the most disquieting years in American history, there were assassinations, urban race riots, the ongoing and controversial war in Viet Nam, all the campus protests and unrest, the Democratic National Convention which descended into […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Long Shadow of Reagan

 
Seen the other night at a clothing store aimed at younger buyers

President Ronald Reagan represents the high-water mark of Republican presidencies within living memory. Eisenhower’s quiet leadership and managerial style are, much like Calvin Coolidge’s, largely forgotten. Nixon’s presidency was marked by an expansion of federal power, followed by a scandal and implosion. Ford is hardly worth mentioning. Bush 41 tried to tack away from Reagan on domestic matters and lasted only a single term. Bush 43 will be long associated with scandals and a collapsed economy, in spite of whatever good he did (and he did do a lot more than we normally acknowledge, but so much was temporary, and the rest is tainted).

Above all of the rest, Reagan stands as a colossus, casting a shadow on every candidacy and campaign. He is invoked as a totem, and, in a way, even prayed to as a saint. I spotted this sweater the other night at a clothing store aimed at ironic younger shoppers. All too often today, in conservative discussions on policy, tactics, or personality, you will eventually hear the phrase “What would Reagan do?”

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Will Steven Spielberg’s new novel-based movie Ready Player One push the gaming concept of an “easter egg” into mainstream culture? Like the American tradition of egg hunts on Easter morning, a virtual easter egg is an allusion to something external hidden with a game world. For example, one game might subtly reference another in admiration by […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Old Wooden Shoeshine Box

 

Back in 2005, I was searching for a shoeshine box for my husband. I know that it’s a nutty gift, but I found all his shoe polish, old rags, and brush in a nasty, zip lock bag. He would get it out and polish and buff his shoes on occasion. He was taught to take care of his shoes, his car, his clothes, all his belongings.

I had fond memories of this wooden shoe box that belonged to my dad. My dad’s wooden shoe box contained all the supplies needed to make your leather shoes look like new, and a footrest to buff, on top of the box. I loved that box – it was a part of my dad’s life, like his army dog tags in his cedar box on the dresser from the 1940s, where he was deployed to Japan and served as military police, and his hand-tied fishing hooks that I still have from his fly-fishing days.

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My parents had different approaches when it came to preparing for long trips. My mother was neat and efficient. My dad, while a believer in Tetris-style precision packing, had an offbeat sense of time. It was no wonder then that close to midnight on the day we were to leave on a cross-country trip, my mother […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Saturday Night Science: Slide Rule

 

Slide ruleBefore computers and calculators, there were slide rules. It is difficult for people today to appreciate just how magic it was to be able to carry a small tool, made of bamboo and plastic, that could perform many of the computations of engineering and science which used to be so tedious in mere seconds, as long as you were happy with its limited precision.

In my own years in engineering school, I did almost all of my homework and examination calculations with a slide rule and, when I graduated and was able to buy one of the first generation of pocket calculators (an HP-45), was amazed by its precision and ease of use, but had to admit that in practical work I could get the job done just about as fast with a slide rule.

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Today I turn – cough – cough.…well, as my friend of the same age put it, it’s the 39th anniversary of my 21st birthday. I feel weird. I don’t know what it is about the number, but it startles people. When I mention how old I am, their eyes bug out, their mouths form a […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Post-Christmas Blues, or Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used to Be

 

shutterstock_99661805I would occasionally view some Ricochet essays that tiptoed on the lighter side of life in a less than interested mood; until, that is, I submitted one of my own ditties that explored the profundities of Blazing Saddles, which is surely a great representation of modern artistic sensibilities. But much of the time, it has been a matter of trying to break free from a “Most liberals are fascists!” mentality, and that’s hard to do, especially since the comparison increasingly seems unfair to fascists.

Then Christmas came along, a time of great joy and celebration, of course, when all thoughts of politics, culture, and the frequent nastiness of things in general needed to be put aside. It was an occasion to immerse oneself into a sugar-plums-dancing-in-your-ears, Jack-Frost-roasting-on-an-open-fire, Hillary-free day, to be enjoyed by everyone in the household ranging in age from seven months to seven decades or so. Christmas music hummed in the background, red and green lights twinkled everywhere, peals of laughter and mirth rippled through the air, a 90-pound black Labrador imitated a lap dog, trying out one lap after another — things didn’t get better than that. Until, that is, the first present was opened, in this case, by one of the grandchildren.

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Watching on BBC America right now. Any other fans out there? More

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Member Post

 

If you were a child of 70s or 80s you doubtless remember the terrific growth of the action figure industry, led by the runaway phenomena first of the Star Wars figurines, followed by GI Joe. I remember re-enacting many a movie battle with my own figures, plus crafting entirely new stories involving the entire jumbled […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. When We Remember 2015, What Will Evoke Our Nostalgia?

 

nostalgia_watch-wideI’m so prone to nostalgia, and so aware that I’m prone to it, that I’ve in the past sent notes to my future self to correct my tendency for emotional historical revisionism. I was prompted to search for one of these after seeing a photo of an old flame’s high school yearbook on Facebook — which filled me with nostalgia — and, to my amazement, I found the very note. It was stuffed in a pile of papers in my attic, and had somehow survived more than 30 years of my peripatetic wanderings.

Any historian would be satisfied, based on this documentary evidence, that I should not have felt nostalgic. I was in fact miserable after we split up. I made a point of explicitly recording this. I strongly suspected that one day I’d be wistful about the whole business. This thought infuriated me, given that I was sure the experience merited no such sentiment. The note from Claire-of-yore to Claire-of-now is as clear as it gets: “However you’re tempted to remember this, don’t kid yourself: You didn’t enjoy this at all.”

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Those Were the Days

 

white-christmas-movie-poster-1020283120[5]

After the end of the semester and a particularly awful work week, I finally got a chance to bake some cookies, put up my Christmas tree, and just generally do Christmasy things. One of these things was to watch my second favorite Christmas movie, White Christmas (feel free to inquire what my most favorite is).

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