By Shane Ross

Earlier this year I was sitting in a screening of a show I was part of a team of editors cutting. This was a screening for the owner of the production company, the Executive Producer (EP) of all the shows the company produces. This EP has a habit of straying from the screening and expounding on some great historical story from film or TV. It might be some great story about THE TOWERING INFERNO, on how Steve McQueen and Paul Newman’s name in the credits appear in the movie, one appearing first, the other appearing slightly higher in the frame…both the same size, and the reasons behind that. About how the most recent 20th Century Fox logo was designed. One day, three of us editors sitting in a row reminded him of the Three Stooges, so he spent an hour telling us the history of the Stooges. Fascinating stuff.

So here we were, in this screening and discussing the show we just watched. He expounded on the fact that we present the show as one thing…it appears to be about one thing, but hidden inside it is another story, a story within a story. He compared this to a laundry detergent brand from his youth. He was grasping for a name…and finally surfaced with “DUZ DETERGENT.”

Duz Detergent wasn’t “top shelf” stuff. It wasn’t the best brand out there. In fact, in order to sell it, the company came up with a brilliant marketing plan. They would include free items in every box of detergent. If you bought the really large box, you would get a towel…a full sized bath towel. If you got the next size down, you got a hand towel…and the smallest box contained a wash cloth. Buy enough of the detergent and you would have a full set. This is how they would sell the detergent…not because it was good, because it probably wasn’t…it was pretty cheap. No, you bought it to get the free stuff.

This sounded a little familiar to me, but it didn’t quite click…not yet.

He then grabbed a laptop to Google Duz and see if he could find out more about it. He found a couple old TV commercials and played them for all of us to see. These commercials didn’t mention towels, but another product. Duz Detergent didn’t only contain towels. They also included dishware, and glassware. The commercial my boss found (from 1967) showed a husband pulling out a glass from the box and showing his wife.

Then it clicked.

When I was 7 years old, my mother was raising me on her own while attending college. We didn’t have a lot of money, so of course my mom bought the things she could afford. And what a deal the DUZ laundry detergent was…not only could we afford it, but we could get glassware out of the deal. I remembered going to the laundry room with my mom and opening the box, and digging the glasses out of the detergent. But they weren’t the clear glasses as the commercial showed. I recalled the glasses being yellow, and having a raised pattern on them…and some had stems, like tumblers.

I spoke up. I told my boss that I remembered my mom buying boxes of detergent, and getting glasses from them. But they weren’t clear, they were amber and had a pattern. He googled again and found that in the 1970s, the glasses in the boxes were indeed amber glass, with a raised pattern:

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When he showed them to me I was excited. “Yes, that’s them!” So funny…here we were, a room full of five editors, three producers, two researchers and the company president, and EP and I were having a trip down memory lane about cheap dishwashing detergent. And I was obviously more affected by this than he was…it was a very personal memory from my childhood….doing laundry with my mom, finding a glass in the box of Duz. For me, it was like opening a present…open a box and get a prize. Just like the occasional sugar cereal box I’d get to open when I went to spend a weekend with my grandma…or when you opened a box of Cracker Jack. It was exciting. At that time I didn’t realize how poor we were, I just loved opening the box and getting a glass…the fabulous prize.

The show ended, and I left for a bit to work on another show at home. When that wrapped, I returned to work on the third season of a series. I’ve been working for a week when the EP called us all up (editors, story producers) up to his office for show meeting. We were all waiting in the lobby while he wrapped up his last meeting. When he came out, he greeted us and said we should all go into the conference room. But he pointed at me, and said; “you…come with me.” I followed him into his office.

“I have something for you.” He bent down behind his desk and pulled up a box wrapped in black plastic. Pulling a pen knife from his desk, he cut off the black plastic and then handed the knife to me. I proceeded to open the box and when I finally cut away all the tape, I found five more round boxes inside. ‘What on earth could these be?’ I wondered.

I started cutting the tape on a round box…a bit quicker than I should…I was curious. “Careful,” he said. “Slow down.” So I did, and gently opened the box.

And found an amber tumbler inside. The exact same glass that we got in the Duz Detergent boxes many years ago. I looked up with excitement. I don’t recall if I said anything, but the excitement must have been written all over my face, because he was giddy with delight…smiling and laughing with me.

My boss must have seen the look in my face those many months ago in that screening. He didn’t expect anyone else to know about this product, he’s used to being the only one to know the story. But he must have noticed how strong of a memory that was for me, and, finding the glasses on e-bay ordered them for me. And then waited months for my return in order to give them to me.

I didn’t know what to do. This was an amazing gift. I wanted to hug the guy…but he’s my boss, so the best I could manage was to reach out and shake his hand and say thank you. A very sincere thank you.

They might be very cheap glasses…gotten from a very cheap box of detergent. But to me, the value goes way beyond that. They are precious memories.
Thank you, Kevin.


The World, In Stereo ~ by Sam

Yesterday, I heard my daughter play at the Central Avenue Jazz Festival. This might not seem like such a revelation, because you are probably thinking, “Haven’t you seen her play a lot, at lots of impressive venues? You know, like Vitello’s, The Catalina Jazz Club, The Hollywood Bowl? Why was yesterday such a big deal?” Let me repeat what I said: Yesterday, I heard my daughter play at the Central Avenue Jazz Festival. I heard her. Really. I mean, I heard her the way everyone else has probably always heard her (or as close as I will get), with both of my ears, in “full-stereo surround sound,” as my audiologist says.  You see, yesterday was the first time I have attended one of Justice’s performances since I started a hearing aid trial on July 1st.
I recently learned that I have congenital hearing loss, meaning I was born with it, in my right ear.  In short, I have never heard the world in stereo.  So, we are attempting to address the issue with the use of a hearing aid.  A Siemens Pure binax hearing aid, to be precise.
To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t expecting the performance to be much different than others I’ve attended. I mean, live music is loud, so, I figured I was pretty much hearing it, right?  My other ear works pretty much the way it should, so I figured I was hearing all of the sounds. The thing was, I wasn’t hearing all of the sounds with both ears.  I can’t really hear low and mid-range tones with my right ear, so…well…imagine a stereo in which the speakers aren’t correctly balanced, so you have a lot more treble on one side. So, then, because you are getting a double dose of treble, and just half as much bass as you should, it sounds…well, different. I was hoping it would make a difference, but I was also trying not to get my hopes up, because I didn’t want to be disappointed.
The band was introduced; and then, they played. I was stunned. It was like the first few days with the hearing aid, when I kept looking to the right, thinking someone was following me, only to discover it was my own footsteps I was hearing; or when I would try to figure out what “weird sound” my car was making, only to realize I was simply hearing road noise and traffic on the right side. I am not exaggerating when I say it brought tears to my eyes. Then, when the gentleman to my left commented, “That bass player got it goin’ on!” and the men next to him agreed, it brought more. I had to close my eyes to keep from blubbering like a fool. With my eyes closed, I was completely bathed in the music, just lost in it, and it was just so strange and wonderful to be completely surrounded, for the first time ever, by my daughter’s music.

I know words could never truly express the difference the hearing aid makes. It is just something you have to experience to know. I imagine it’s like the moment a person with extremely poor vision tries glasses for the first time. Sometimes, it is so overwhelming that I have to turn it off for a while. Sometimes, little things that have never irritated me, do. But this moment ~ this was perfection. Moments like this are the reason I am leaning toward declaring the “trial” a success.

Can you hear me world?  Because, now, I can hear all of you!

Photo on 7-26-15 at 7.22 PM
Can you see the tiny cable running in to the receiver, which sits inside my ear canal, above?

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Above, you can see the hearing aid, as it sits behind my ear.

But, when I am not trying to show it to you, you wouldn’t even know I was wearing it!  Isn’t it amazing how tiny they can make these things?
Photo on 7-26-15 at 7.31 PM #2

Quick Tomato Cream Sauce ~ by Sam

Like my last post, this one is a quick, sort of “cheat” version of a family favourite.  I htought about posting it to our food blog, and I probably will, later, but it seems like it fits here, since it makes feeding the kids a little bit easier and less stressful.

Today, Kaia had a friend over through lunchtime.  I thought I was going to make quesadillas, to go with the leftover rice & beans from last night’s dinner, until I realized we’d eaten all of the tortillas.  Making quesadillas without tortillas would be tricky, at best.  Then, Kaia’s guest piped up, “You know what sounds really good right now?  Pasta with tomato-cream sauce.”  It happens to be one of Kaia’s favourites, too, so, after a quick check to make sure I had the ingredients, I set to work.  I didn’t have much time, so I decided to just make it quick, and it occurred to me that others might need a good, quick go-to recipe.  So, here ya go.

Quick Tomato Cream Sauce
1 sm. can tomato paste
3 cans milk (fill the empty tomato paste can 3 times, that is)
1 TBS flour
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
salt & pepper to taste
1 TBS butter

In a blender, combine first 7 ingredients.  Blend until very smooth and well-combined.  Pour into a medium saucepan and heat on low, stirring occasionally, just to simmering.  Turn off burner.  Stir in butter, salt and pepper.  Serve over hot pasta or rice.

Today, I served the sauce over capellini (angel hair), because it takes only about 3 minutes to cook.  I put on a pot of salted water to boil before I started making the sauce, and the pasta was done just moments after the sauce, so it really was a quick meal.  It is particularly delicious over spinach tortellini, which happens to be one of Kaia’s favourites (and wait…is that TWO vegetables in one dish??  Wonders may never cease!).

Before I go, here are a few of tips I have picked up over the years on the subject of cooking pasta:
Salt your water.  Cook pasta until “al dente.”  This literally means “to the tooth.”  In other words, you should have to use your teeth to cut the pasta; it shouldn’t just squish against the top of your mouth when you press it with your tongue.  After draining your pasta, toss it with a little bit of olive oil.  This keeps it from sticking together, helps maintain the texture after sauce is added, and gives it a nice flavour.  Last, but not least: I do not rinse my pasta (with the exception of cold pasta salad ~ in that case, I rinse in cold water until it is cold, and drain very well).