socializing, conversations, pandemic

Film reel from 1950 contains cheesy but relevant tips for brushing up our pandemic-bruised social skills.

The pandemic hasn't ended, but a combo of a push toward "normalcy" and a window of low case counts has made it so that most of us are venturing out more. Some of us are finding that our social skills have gone a bit wonky. Throughout the pandemic, there have been articles telling us that this was happening, with headlines like "It's not just you. We're all socially awkward now" and "A crash course in polishing your pandemic-damaged social skills." I had a friend the other day mention how he'd met someone new and felt like he'd forgotten how to have a conversation.

In addition to the pandemic, the social and political discourse of the past several years feels like it has become more and more contentious. It's hard to have a discussion in which disagreements don't devolve into ugliness, so we might avoid any conversation that goes beyond the weather altogether.

However, research also shows that people really want to have richer conversations with one another. So we're in this weird spot of wanting to talk to people but feeling a bit lost as to how to do it.


Never fear. The 1950s film reel is here to help us out.

Those of us who grew up in the predigital era remember our teachers trotting out film projectors and showing us crackly films from the '50s with the iconic announcer-y voices and "Aw, gee whiz" teens acting out cheesy scenes. (Some of us hear the clickety-clicking of the projector and immediately want to fall asleep, as our minds revert back to the unbearable boredom—and yet much-needed reprieve from normal class—that such films meant for us.) This film reel will send Gen-X-and-older folks straight back to our childhoods.

But there's actually some good stuff in here. "Ways to Better Conversation" was part of a series of instructional educational videos put out by Coronet in the '40s,' 50s, '60s and '70s. It compares a good conversation to a volleyball game, and examines the roles of courtesy, contributing, following the subject and listening carefully in having a pleasant, productive conversation.

Oddly enough, it's these basics that are often missing from modern conversation, which becomes fairly apparent when we witness the "bad conversation" example in the film. Despite its oh-so-very-1950 vibe, the fundamental lesson really does apply to today.

And if you don't find the tips useful, it's still a delight to see the '50s equivalent of a YouTube how-to video. This is how we used to roll, kids. Watch and learn.

(And yes, the flub with the skipped words at the beginning is actually quite true to the reality of watching these films in class. Something was always breaking with those things. Good times.)

Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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Sandy Hook school shooting survivors are growing up and telling us what they've experienced.

This story originally appeared on 12.15.21


Imagine being 6 years old, sitting in your classroom in an idyllic small town, when you start hearing gunshots. Your teacher tries to sound calm, but you hear the fear in her voice as she tells you to go hide in your cubby. She says, "be quiet as a mouse," but the sobs of your classmates ring in your ears. In four minutes, you hear more than 150 gunshots.

You're in the first grade. You wholeheartedly believe in Santa Claus and magic. You're excited about losing your front teeth. Your parents still prescreen PG-rated films so they can prepare you for things that might be scary in them.

And yet here you are, living through a horror few can fathom.

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