Tag Archives: video

Harry Houdini and Rochester

Screenshot of film showing Harry Houdini's jump, handcuffed, from the Weighlock Bridge in Rochester. It was his first manacled stunt. (Click image to be taken to the video.)

Screenshot of film showing Harry Houdini’s jump, handcuffed, from the Weighlock Bridge in Rochester in 1907. It was his first manacled stunt. (Click image to be taken to the video.)

Here’s a fun fact that I couldn’t pass up sharing: On May 7, 1907, Harry Houdini performed his first manacled bridge stunt by jumping off the Weighlock Bridge, near Court Street in downtown Rochester. He was wearing two pair of handcuffs which, as you can see in this film, were secured by Policeman Decker (as identified by the Rochester Union and Advertiser).

According to an article in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, in the 1890s Houdini had actually been offered a job in Rochester, ironically as superintendent of Sargent and Greenleaf, a lockmaking company then located here.

That’s just Rochester, making history again!

A photo of Harry Houdini and his mother, allegedly taken in Rochester in 1908.

UPDATE: Just what is the “Weighlock Bridge”?  Turns out, it was a covered area where boats would come in to be weighed to determine their toll. The weight of the empty boat was subtracted from the weight of the boat full of cargo. According to ErieCanal.org, “it was located on the west bank of the canal, on the east side of the Genesee River, just south of Court Street.”

Weighlocks on Erie Canal, Rochester, N.Y. (214976 -- [Leighton & Valentine Co., N.Y.]) - From: Rochester Public Library Local History Division. -- A postcard view of the weighlock, looking north with the city in the background, approximately 1910.

A postcard view of the weighlock, looking north with the city in the background, approximately 1910.

Title: Erie Canal weigh lock [photograph]. Photographer/Artist: Stone, Albert R., 1866-1934. Date: 1911? Physical Details: 1 photograph : b&w ; 7 x 9 in. Collection: Albert R. Stone Negative Collection, Rochester Museum & Science Center, Rochester, NY Summary: The weighlock (or weigh lock) was built in 1852. It is located on the east side of the Genesee River, just south of Court Street. Canal boats enter the covered area, where the toll is determined by the weight of the loaded boat. Rochester Images image Number: sct11583 http://www.rochester.lib.ny.us/rochimag/rmsc/ scm11/scm11583.jpg

Collection: Albert R. Stone Negative Collection, Rochester Museum & Science Center, Rochester, NY

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Jimmy Kimmel’s Halloween candy YouTube challenge – and some thoughts on bad parenting

Halloween was only a few days ago, and late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel issued his annual challenge to viewers: take a video of the reactions your kids give when you tell them you ate all of their Halloween candy.

I admit that it’s pretty funny to see the look of disbelief on the faces of these kids. But as I watched kid after kid after kid throw temper tantrums, I was left with one thought.

What the hell is wrong with parents? Continue reading

Potty mouthed princesses, feminism, and my own little rant

You never know what’s going to show up in your Facebook timeline, and this week it was a video of young girls dressed as princesses dropping the f*bomb for feminism.

Angry young girls. With big f*ing attitudes.

The video is a series of rants about sexist society and a potty-mouthed call for better treatment of women.

Oh, and it’s also a promo to sell t-shirts for a group called FCKH8.

It’s a charged rant, with little girls throwing out the word f*ck repeatedly for two and a half minutes. They make some good points, pointing out issues like pay inequality and rape. But there are some problems with this kind of video.

Oh, so many problems.

First, the use of such a charged word actually distracts from the issue at hand. People are talking about children swearing, not inequality. It reminds me of the story about how Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton joined the bloomer revolution and started wearing the scandalous “pants” that showed their ankles. When people started focusing on their clothing instead of voting rights, they went back to their more restrictive and traditional dress in order to keep the focus on the most important goal.

Don’t get me wrong; I like a good curse word as much as the next sailor. But swearing doesn’t make you strong. It just makes you shocking. And that shock value is being exploited in a video rant with a lot of accusations but no solutions. As they say, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

Second, the object of the accusations about inequality of women is the vast and anonymous “society”. Yes, women often earn less than men for the same job. Yes, rape and date rape are serious issues. Yes, there are issues of inequality. But I think the issue of respect for women is often a “do as I say, not as I do” problem. Because I think if women respected themselves more, “society” would follow suit.

Women want men to see them as more than pretty princesses in need of rescue, and the girls rant that society teaches that boobs and butts are more important than brains. But I’d argue that women teach that, by participating, for example, in shows like “The Bachelor” and related spins offs, like “Dating “Naked”. If women started respecting themselves, we might see a change in the way “society” views us. We might see women who begin to believe that they are not the sum of their body parts, but instead complete spiritual, emotional, creative – and powerful – beings.

Feeling exploited as a women? Cancel your subscription to “People” and “Cosmo”. Stop deifying celebrities – and strive to become a society that erases from its vocabulary words like “Kardashian”.

Third, women have reduced motherhood to a dirty word, but the reality is that the future of humankind literally depends on women’s ability to reproduce. Talk about power. And that power includes the decision to not reproduce. Without women, humans would disappear. If you’re alive, you can thank a woman for that. So rather than treating men and women as biologically equal, it might be time for women to claim that power and flaunt it. Yup, I can lead a company – and grow a human being inside of my own body. Equal? Puleeze. Try and exist without us, men.

Fourth, this is going to be my own little rant: ladies, stop complaining about how fucking hard your life is. A group of women used modern technology to create a business, and then a video containing explicit language, and aired it publicly on the internet. Tell me, how is that female oppression? In what way was their opportunity to do that thwarted by male domination? How, exactly, did “society” silence them?

The reality is that in America, women enjoy rights that millions of other women around the globe would die for. DO die for. Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her bravery, after being shot in the face by the Taliban – because she wanted to go to school. She did it without some ranting video exploiting cursing children for shock value. She simply stood up for what was right.

And got shot in the face. And then she stood up some more.

You want “society” to change the way it treats women? Women, start behaving as if you deserved respect. Start being better role models for young girls by putting your actions into motion every day, instead of just your mouths. Set the bar higher, and behave in a way that demands that men behave like gentlemen. Stop bitching about what other people do and don’t do, and instead get up every morning, look in the mirror, and roar.

You already have the power. Use it.

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50 thoughts on turning 50: #1 Be nice. It’s contagious.

I love this video making the rounds online, mostly because it exemplifies something I’ve learned over my life about being nice: you have to be nice without expecting anything in return.

You can’t “do good” to win favor, raise your standing in the community, earn points you can cash in later, or pat yourself on the back. If you give of your time, energy and money for any of those reasons, you’ll drain yourself dry, emotionally, physically, spiritually. Neither you nor anyone else will be better for it.

Instead, “do good” because it’s who you are, and let the satisfaction from “doing good” be your reward. It’s a far greater return than you could have asked for … and it can change the world.

This post is part of my series, “50 thoughts on turning 50”. Read more here.

Scout gets to play some soccer with real soccer players

Today was the kick off for the next round of the ASPCA’s Shelter Challenge, and Rochester Animal Services hosted a little party in the park, with special guests from the WNY Flash women’s soccer team.

I headed down to take some pictures for the dog blog, and I debated bringing Scout. You know how much he loves to play soccer in the backyard, and how good he is with the ball. I thought he’d have some fun. But I also know how squirrely he gets in strange situations and crowds, and I didn’t want to overwhelm him in the heat, either. So I left him home.

When I got downtown, there wasn’t a big crowd (it’s hard to compete with opening day of Bills training camp). So I went home and got Scout.

I’m so glad I did! He was happy to get in the car, happy on the ride, and when we got there and he saw the soccer balls? In doggie heaven.

Forget about the people and the other dogs. All he saw was the ball. I dropped the leash, kicked him a ball, and away he went. Kaley Fountain of the WNY Flash spent some time with Scout running up and down the field and kicking the ball. A few times he looked to me as if to say, “This is OK, right?” Yup, it’s OK. Go, Scout, go! And then away he went.

If she had been up for it, I think he would have gone home with her.

Scout and Kaley Fountain from the WNY Flash

The girls had to take time for some photos with the shelter dogs, and then Scout went to play with the guys doing the soccer clinic. No kids? A dog will do.

It was a great day for my happy pup. I’d been worried since we found out he was sick that he might be prone to injury or something. But this week Dr. Hall said that she’d let him be a dog and not to worry.

You know, God really does take care of things, even our dogs. I know it seems silly to some people, but watching my pup out there running around made me so happy. I know God cares about him even more than I do and I’m glad his last days – if these even are his last days; I think he’ll be here till Christmas – are filled with the things he loves.

Conan’s advice to Dartmouth grads good advice for middle aged writers, too

My friend Kelsey Timmerman, writer of all things fun and cool, posted this video of Conan O’Brien’s commencement address to Dartmouth College, pointing out Conan’s advice about failure as good advice for grads.

But listening to Conan’s speech, it’s also great advice for … well, me.

Like Conan, I’m 47. And lately, I’ve been wondering if this is all there is. I mean, I’m past middle age – unless I’m going to live to my mid-90s, and even in that case the likelihood that I’ll be able to do anything more noteworthy than wipe my own nose is slim. So I’ve been musing – have I missed my chance to do something significant?

Then along comes Conan, and with his advice to graduates (offered up after 20 laugh out loud minutes) reminds me that sometimes the best years come after you think the best is behind you. Some of his key points:

“There are few things in life more liberating than having your worst fear realized.”

“Your path at 22 will not be your path at 32 or 42. One’s dream is constantly evolving, rising and falling and changing course.”

“It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique. It’s not easy. But if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can become a catalyst for profound reinvention.”

“Whether you fear it or not, disappointment will come. The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality.”

If you have 20 minutes, watch the video. It’s hilarious, and if nothing else you’ll get a good laugh. But you might also find a little inspiration in there, too.

Good intentions, bad results

I’m doing some research for this book idea (yes, I am going to finish the proposal at the very least; go 2011!) and stumbled upon this video from Reason.tv about good intentions with bad consequences – also known as the Law of Unintended Consequences.

I’m doing some research into good deeds gone wrong. Have you ever tried to help and made things worse? Been plagued by a well-intention do-gooder who made your life a nightmare? If you have a story, I’d love to hear it!