Sunday, November 30, 2008

Chocolate Santas, Mortgage Woes & Scopitones

Somehow, the first serious snow of the year always seems to show up around the beginning of meteorological winter, namely December 1, and sure enough snow has been falling most of today, though some of it was rain and some of it has melted. Still, a thin white coating has stuck to the ground.

The Long Grove Confectionery in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, has a moderately interesting factory tour. There was no school on Wednesday, so I took Lilly, Ann and a friend of Lilly's on the tour, which consisted of first watching a commercial for the company (that is, a video about the company and its many fine products), then walking down a hallway with interior windows that looked into various parts of the factory. Certainly it smelled good there in the hall. But there wasn't a lot of candymaking activity in the factory, except in the packaging department, on the day before Thanksgiving.

I did get to see a 500-lb. Santa Claus, a man-sized statue of an Indian -- something like a cigar-store Indian -- and an assortment of famous paintings, all rendered in chocolate. They were worth getting out of bed to see. I also learned that the company has a sculptor on staff to carve such things, along with what he usually does, creating molds for chocolates and other confections: an unusual job description. There were free samples at the end, of course. Long Grove Confectionery makes good chocolate, that's for sure.

This is a photo for our time. History will probably forget that there was a credit squeeze in the mortgage business for a year before the full-blown credit freeze of this fall, but there was, and this company probably fell victim to it. I actually took the picture early this summer, but was in the vicinity of the building recently, and saw that the space is still vacant.

Sometimes I think the Internet was designed specifically for my wandering, tangential sort of mind. Reading about communications satellites led to a whim to listen to "Telstar" on YouTube, which led to this song and its bizarre video. Except that it isn't a video, not as members of the MTV generation knew them, anyway. It's a Scopitone.

If I'd ever heard about Scopitones, which is possible, I'd completely forgotten about them. More than anyone needs to know about this short-lived public audio-video phenomenon is here.


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