Sunday, March 29, 2015

Jersey Bounces Opponents in Derby Double

A new season of roller derby has arrived in Morristown NJ. It began last night with a women’s bout between the home team NJRD (New Jersey Roller Derby) and the Jersey Shore Roller Girls; it was followed by a men’s match JBRD (Jersey Boys Roller Derby) vs Toronto Men’s Roller Derby. The New Jersey Roller Derby Small Stars (the local kids’ league) sang the national anthem.

The Jersey Shore has a strong record including a victory over another Morristown team on its most recent visit to the same track in 2014. The NJRD steadily has been building strength since its formation a few years ago, however, and it showed on the track last night. The team’s blocking has tightened and it has acquired a depth of experienced jammers.  NJRD’s Maulin Rouge put points on the board in the first jam; Shannanigunz, Miss USA-Hole, Tuff Crust Pizza, and Chase Windu followed in quick succession. Despite game jamming by the Shore, notably by SoCo who persevered through tough blocking, only 10 minutes into the bout NJRD led 59-7. NJRD continued to dominate, though Shore was able to gain points, notably by Emma Effa and Hodan. At halftime NJRD led 131-27. The second half was rough-and-tumble but continued on the same path. Despite some impressive individual jams, including a 15 pointer by Soco, NJRD built its lead, taking the win 211-99. MVPs were Maulin Rouge (jammer) and Rosa Ruckus (blocker) for NJRD, and Emma Effa (jammer) and Pinky and the Pain (blocker) for Jersey Shore.

In the second bout a Jersey team once again showed its strength in the first jam. Robert Brawlson for JBRD made multiple passes through the pack while Señor Weiner from Toronto ran into determined JBRD resistance for a first jam score of 23-1 in favor of Jersey. Despite occasional strong jams by Toronto, notably by Sleeper Cell, Ford, and Weiner, the first jam had set the pattern. Barndt, Scooter McGoot, and Brawlson added to the Jersey totals. Blocking stiffened toward the end of the first half; a ref was caught in the action and was helped off the track. At halftime the score stood 196-54. In the second half both sides upped their blocking. Toronto with some effect employed a blocking formation that originated in Australia, and tried alternate jamming tactics including a star pass from Flyin Bryan to Ford. It wasn’t enough to alter the general trend of the bout. The clock ran out with the score at 411-90 in favor of JBRD.

Benny Goodman Jersey Bounce

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Goodbye Again to Berlin

I’m not a rabid theater-hound. For one thing it is too expensive to be one, and for another the simple hassle of getting in and out of NYC is a deterrent. So, I seldom attend more than three or four plays per year on or off Broadway – sometimes fewer, but occasionally more if I have ulterior motives (i.e. dates). Still less often do I see a play a second time. The exceptions are…well…exceptional.

Cabaret, which is ending its current run this weekend, is very exceptional. It has had four Broadway productions, and I’ve seen three of them, witnessing such unlikely performers of the Sally Bowles role as Natasha Richardson, Brooke Shields, and Molly Ringwald. (I was 13 when the first production opened in 1966, and the New York theater wasn’t really on my radar or in my budget.) Whenever guests – especially from out-of-area – during one of its runs asked me an opinion about what Broadway musical to see, I’d point to it, and as often as not end up in one of the seats next to them.

The play has its origins in Goodbye to Berlin, a quasi-memoir by Christopher Isherwood published in 1938 about his time several years earlier in Weimar Republic Berlin, a city renowned for its easy unashamed decadence. Though the homosexual elements in the book should be obvious to any but the blindest of readers, Isherwood in later years regretted not making them far more explicit. There was a sound reason for his earlier reticence: the 1930s English-speaking world had shame in spades and a more blatant presentation might have prevented publication. He corrected his caution in the graphic 1976 memoir Christopher and His Kind, written oddly in (most of the time) the third person. Nonetheless, the central character of Goodbye to Berlin is the cabaret entertainer Sally Bowles, based on Isherwood’s real acquaintance Jean Ross, whose amorous issues are with men; Jean supposedly gave her OK to the book but declined to see the show. She died in 1973. Sally Bowles first came to the stage in the 1951 play I Am a Camera (a line from the book) and then again in the musical adaptation.

I think the appeal of Cabaret, quite aside from its production values, is the sense of uneasiness it instills. The uneasiness stems from the realization that decadence and reaction are intertwined. Authoritarians demanding to sweep out the trash can come from unexpected ideological directions and can be supported by the most surprising people, all convinced of their correctness. The 1960s accordingly was the right time for the musical to find its first audience. It is hard to convey to those who weren’t there in that decade just how much to my parents’ generation (still in their 40s) society seemed suddenly to have gone crazy; the Weimar excesses were looking familiar. Would it all end the same way? Fortunately, it didn’t. There was a pushback, but it was pretty mild in the way such things are measured. There is no guarantee, though, that the next one will be.

Since it still speaks to us, I don’t believe the show has seen the last of Broadway. Another production will be back one day. But until then, goodbye to all that.

Local news report from last year on the 2014 opening

Friday, March 20, 2015

Twelve Reasons Why Romans Didn’t Live in Glass Houses

Anyone who has tried a hand at fiction [I’ve made a few stabs at it – see my other two blogspot sites] has had the experience of a story going off in in an unplanned direction and finishing in an unexpected place. This is usually because a character acquires a personality that refuses to cooperate; he or she demands to speak and behave in a way that differs from whatever is in your initial outline. It is at least somewhat comforting to know that this happens to first-rate authors as well as to those further down the scale. Mark Twain, for example, tells us that Pudd’nhead Wilson was supposed to be a minor character in a story featuring the Capello twins, but he kept butting in front until Mark finally gave up, handed the plot over to him, consigned the twins to a supporting role, and titled the novel Pudd’nhead Wilson. He explains this in an introduction to the short story Those Extraordinary Twins which he gave to the shortchanged twins in compensation. This kind of divergence from plan doesn’t usually happen in nonfiction blogs though, but it did today, thereby prompting me to double back and write this introductory paragraph. No strong-willed fictional character took command, but a strongly opinionated historical one beckoned down a side road. You’ll see what I mean. Maybe I can’t blame him though; perhaps I just lost focus from a lack of sleep.

As that may be, last week’s musings on concrete brought to mind another material so common we don’t think much about it: glass. There is a direct connection, albeit a minor one, to concrete. One of the less important methods of recycling glass is to grind it into pebble-size pieces and use it as aggregate in concrete or asphalt (“glassphalt”). The primary uses for glass weigh more heavily in the scheme of things of course.

Glassmaking goes back to Sumeria. The process is pretty straightforward. Heat up a silicate (SiO2) rock (typically quartz) to 1200 degrees C and its crystalline structure will break; the rock will turn into a sticky liquid. Cool it fairly rapidly and the crystals won’t have time to reform; the molecules will retain an amorphous pattern – or rather nonpattern – which is to say the material will be glass. By adding a flux, such as potash, you can lower the temperature at which this happens. Occasionally, but only occasionally, glass forms naturally as in the case of obsidian. Perhaps the most fun natural glass (assuming you are not there at the moment of formation) is fulgerite, tubes or filaments of glass ranging from several centimeters to several meters long that can form when lightning strikes desert sand. You have to make glass on purpose, though, if you want industrial quantities of it.

While making glass is uncomplicated in principle, giving it the properties you want is more difficult; just figuring out how to make it transparent took centuries. To work it into something useful takes art and skill. Glass production didn’t really go into high gear until the Roman Empire. Romans not only made cheap everyday glass bowls and drinking vessels, but elaborate cut glasses that we still would have trouble duplicating. The Romans also were the first to make common use of glass windows. An ancient Roman window typically had a lot of small panes set in lead mullions. Making large panes was still a problem for them. Glass windows are easy to underrate until you don’t have them; they let in the light and they keep out the bugs. Before glass people used fabrics or shutters – or they just left the hole in the wall open. None of those is very satisfactory.

It occurs to me – in the way that one thought leads to another – that the Romans by the first century already were so accustomed to glass that they scarcely bothered to mention it in surviving texts. The only reference that comes immediately to mind is by the boorish nouveau riche character Trimalchio in Petronius’ first century novel Satyricon. Google churns up the quote swiftly: “But I prefer glass, if you don't mind my saying so; it doesn't stink, and if it didn't break, I'd rather have it than gold, but it's cheap and common now.” A quick look inside a Penguin translation from my shelf of Suetonius' The Twelve Caesars to see if windows are mentioned in the description of Nero’s Golden House turns up nothing, but I’m afraid that in the pages of the book I’ve gotten distracted from glass. Repeated shattering of something far more fragile is on display: elementary human decency. The Twelve Caesars is an engrossing read even if you’ve read it more than once before.

Suetonius (c. 69 – 122 AD) was a reactionary, which in the context of his time meant he favored a return to governance by the Republican institutions which Julius and his nephew Octavius had turned into rubber stamps. (Roman emperors were surprisingly unperturbed by Republican-leaning historians; they don’t seem to have bothered to suppress them so long as the writings were about their predecessors.) Accordingly, he is happy to trot out the vices of the first twelve Caesars. It therefore is tempting to dismiss his account of imperial depravity as propaganda; yet, so much of it is backed by multiple sources and evidence that we have to take it seriously. When he is unfair he still tells enough of the facts for us to decide this for ourselves. For example, he quotes the fatally ill emperor Vespasian as saying, “I feel I shall soon be a god.” This is presented and often regarded as jaw-dropping arrogance, yet Suetonius’ own biographical account shows Vespasian to have been down-to-earth (rare for a Caesar) and to have had a taste for sarcastic humor. This looks to me to be an instance of it: a reference to the Senate’s habit of voting divinity status for dead emperors, something the hardheaded non-superstitious former general was unlikely to have taken seriously. Besides, the imperial vices Suetonius recounts are, under the circumstances, all too credible.

Several of the Caesars were reasonably good imperial administrators – or at least had the wisdom to delegate the task to unsung freedmen who were – but in their private lives their behavior broke all bounds. In fact, there were no bounds. How do people behave – how would you behave – when there literally are no restrictions? When there are no legal consequences? When your word is law? The answer pretty clearly is that they behave badly. One of the milder passages about Nero:

“Besides the abuse of free-born lads, and the debauch of married women, he committed a rape upon Rubria, a Vestal Virgin. He was upon the point of marrying Acte, his freedwoman, having suborned some men of consular rank to swear that she was of royal descent. He gelded the boy Sporus, and endeavoured to transform him into a woman. He even went so far as to marry him, with all the usual formalities of a marriage settlement, the rose-coloured nuptial veil, and a numerous company at the wedding... It was jocularly observed by some person, ‘that it would have been well for mankind, had such a wife fallen to the lot of his father Domitius.’”

In accordance with Freud and Kinsey rather than 21st century sensibilities, one might note, the Romans didn’t define their sexuality in narrow or divisive terms such as straight or gay – they accepted that a person had a range rather than a niche. An apparently disquieted Edward Gibbon in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire nonetheless comments that of the first fifteen emperors, “Claudius was the only one whose taste in love was entirely correct."

The issue, of course, is not what is “correct” but what is assault – whether the object of physical affection had any choice in the matter. Yet Nero wasn’t so very unusual in this regard: his depravity didn’t hold a candle to that of the pedophile Tiberius, never mind the outright insanity of Caligula.

Suetonius remains a convincing warning about the hazards of absolute power. The hazard also applies to the tyrant himself who may discover the hard way that power is never entirely absolute after all: eight (maybe nine) of those twelve Caesars were murdered.

Suetonius wrote numerous other books on everything from grammar to timekeeping to natural history to fashion. (The titles are listed in other sources.) Snippets from a few survive, but most have been lost completely. Among the lost works (I kid you not) is another biographical work, Lives of Famous Whores. Pity.

Heart of Glass

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Cementing the Future

Last autumn a 38-year-old retaining wall on my property was not looking fit for winter. Cracks had opened and the parge coat was peeling away.  Repeated freezing of moisture in the cracks surely would lead to more damage. With a bucket of cement and a trowel I hoped to stave off trouble. So far so good: even after the winter we just had, an inspection today shows the wall to be intact.

Cement and its grittier brother concrete (cement plus aggregate – usually stones though it can be other stuff such as fiberglass fibers) are marvelous materials. It is hard to find contemporary structures beyond the most rustic that don’t rely on them – at least for footings and foundations. Multistory commercial buildings are now more often framed with reinforced concrete than with steel. You can pour concrete into any shape, it won’t catch fire, and, while not indestructible, it is pretty hard to damage.

My first significant hands-on experience working with concrete was during my high school years. It was a summer job on a construction site. A basic grunt laborer, I wheeled barrows of it to sections of basement floors that the concrete truck’s chute wouldn’t reach and then rough-leveled it with rakes; the masons smoothed everything afterward. Outside, I did the same on patios after first hacksawing and setting rebar (steel reinforcing rods). Doing that for 8 hours a day doesn’t qualify as fun, but it did give me a better appreciation for the stuff.

Modern concrete dates only to the 18th century. Making it is not an obvious process. The primary ingredients for cement are limestone (calcium carbonate) and silicate rocks, but, if all you do is crush them to powder and blend them with water, all you will get is mud. When the mud dries it will be powder again. To turn the mixed powder into cement you have to change it at the molecular level; to do this you heat it to an intense 1450 degrees C at which point the powders reform into calcium silicate. Now you’ve got cement. When you mix this with water and gravel you have concrete. Concrete doesn’t harden by drying in the usual sense; water is an ingredient that becomes part of the molecular structure of the hardening material. Internal water molecules continue to form new bonds long after the material feels dry to the touch, so concrete toughens as it cures, often for years.

The process for making Portland cement (so-called for its similar appearance to Portland stone) probably would have been discovered later than the 18th century had not the folks of that era already known that it was possible. They knew because the ancient Romans had used concrete on a grand scale to build bridges, aqueducts, and buildings, many of which still stood. The Pantheon in Rome (completed 128 AD and still standing) to this day has the largest unreinforced concrete dome ever built. Roman techniques were forgotten in the years after the empire fell, but there obviously was some trick to them that only needed to be uncovered.

So how did the Romans figure it out in the first place? They cheated. More fairly, they got lucky. By geological happenstance, volcanic activity near what would become Naples was amid layers of limestone alternating with ordinary silicates. Superheated volcanic ash from this material formed a natural cement powder that accumulated over millions of years. The Romans needed only to dig it out of the ground. The mix wasn’t identical to modern Portland cement, but it was close enough to work. The Romans improved on the natural mix by adding lime: a single step which they worked out pretty early.

The problem with concrete, as with natural stone, is that it is amazingly strong in compression but very weak in tension. If you support a concrete horizontal beam at each end over an open space, the beam is under compression along the top but under tension along the bottom; so, it is likely to crack at the bottom. The crack will travel to the top and the beam will fail. This is also true of stone, and it is why all pure masonry structures need either arches or a lot of pillars; stone and concrete horizontal beams can’t span large spaces. This problem was solved in the 19th century by Parisian gardener Joseph Monier. He wasn’t interested in construction. He just wanted flower pots that wouldn’t break as easily as ordinary clay or concrete pots. So, he embedded steel cages in flower pot molds and poured concrete into them. The technique worked perfectly, and the larger applications were immediately obvious. Steel excels in resisting tension, so a concrete horizontal beam reinforced with embedded steel rods can span long distances just fine.

There is very little that can’t be made out of concrete, but there probably are some things that shouldn’t be. More than a century ago, Thomas Edison, saddened by recent fatal fires in the news, decided that the answer was fireproof concrete homes filled with fireproof concrete furniture. He built his own cement plant in Stewartsville, NJ and built some demonstration poured-concrete houses (they still exist). He then produced concrete beds, concrete chairs, concrete sofas, concrete tables, concrete cupboards, concrete bureaus, concrete phonograph cases, and a concrete piano. They didn’t catch on. Go figure.

ZZ Top - Concrete and Steel

Monday, March 9, 2015

Pretty Prevarications

Last night I spun a DVD of Orson Welles’ F for Fake (1974), a look at deception that focusses on author Clifford Irving (of the Howard Hughes biography hoax) and Elmyr de Hory, the noted art forger. Orson of course achieved fame through a hoax of his own. Fans of Orson Welles will find it interesting, but I wouldn’t recommend it to a general audience. The film is leisurely and talky. Were it anyone but Orson talking it would be dull. Nonetheless it brought to mind some thoughts on deception.

An old adage says never to trust anyone who makes a point of telling you how honest he is. The risk is high that he is setting you up for a fleecing. At best he is demanding a free pass for rudeness, which is not the same thing as honesty. You know the fellow: just to be provocative, he says something completely out of bounds and then deflects criticism with the line, “Hey, I just say it like I see it.” The line itself is seldom true. The truth is often rude, but rudeness is not often the truth. The overlap is far from complete.

There clearly are situations in which we properly demand honesty. For good reason we outlaw fraud in financial transactions and perjury in the witness stand, but as everyday social lubricants lies are all but inescapable. After all, we all know (or should know) how to answer, “Does this make me look fat?”

From Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man:

BLUNTSCHLI. …You said you’d told only two lies in your whole life. Dear young lady: isn’t that rather a short allowance? I’m quite a straightforward man myself but it wouldn’t last me a whole morning.
RAINA (staring haughtily at him). Do you know, sir, that you are insulting me?
BLUNTSCHLI. I can’t help it. When you get into that noble attitude and speak in that thrilling voice, I admire you; but I find it impossible to believe a word you say.

Odds are, two lies wouldn’t last either Bluntschli or Raina ten minutes, never mind a morning. Nor would it be an adequate allowance for the rest of us. An article in the Journal of Basic and Applied Psychology describes an experiment in which roomfuls of people were allowed to interact socially without interference. Cameras unobtrusively recorded them. Each person then reviewed the tapes and was asked to identify the lies he or she told. The average was 2.92 lies every 10 minutes. Men and women lied about the same amount, but there was a difference in style, with men opting a bit more often for braggadocio and women lying more often for social convenience. No one was looking to defraud anybody in the usual sense of that term; they were just being social. 2.92 probably was an undercount since the researchers relied on participants to report honestly, and people notoriously posture even for social scientists; a few people (not very credibly) claimed not to have lied at all.

90 years before this experiment, HL Mencken understood the impulse perfectly. In The Art Eternal he wrote, “We ourselves are flawed and limited, and those of us not fortunate enough to be megalomaniacs are aware of it. Most of the time we feel outnumbered, outclassed, and (literally and figuratively) outgunned, and with good reason. It is not surprising that we are often are tempted to shorten the odds with dishonesty and to soothe ourselves with hypocrisy."

So, tell the truth on the stand, and don’t sell me an Elmyr by saying it is a Vermeer. But you look skinny in those jeans. Honestly.

Tell me sweet little lies

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Five Films for a Snowy March

As winter continues to behave like winter in these parts (yet another snowfall is expected tonight), my home screen has seen some use. Five mini-reviews of flicks seen since March 1 follow.

CBGB (2013) – This movie was bound to get a tough reception from critics, many of whom had frequented the iconic club CBGB in NYC. Among the ones who didn’t nevertheless are many of an age to have grown up with the music of the bands and artists who broke out on its stage: The Ramones, Television, Patti Smith, Blondie, The Police, The Dead Kennedys, Talking Heads, and many many more. The music of our youth always attaches to us in a special way, even if we remain open to new sounds. How deft would a movie about this club have to be without it seeming to be a sacrilege to its demographic, and without evoking cries of, “No, that’s wrong!”? More deft than this one. The Village Voice, whose band reviews in the 1970s helped put CBGB on the map, ran a review of this movie titled “10 Things the CBGB Movie Got Wrong.

All that duly acknowledged, the movie really isn’t as bad as all that. While flawed in more than 10 ways, it doesn’t deserve the wall of splats on Rotten Tomatoes. True, it does not provide any insight into the origins of punk and New Wave music, which reflected a collapse both of post-war “can-do” optimism and of ‘60s counterculture “flower power” naiveté. The movie does provide a sanitized, dramatized, but not entirely fabricated account of the accidental role that club owner Hilly Kristal (Alan Rickman) played in popularizing a new sound. Accidental it was: “CBGB” stands for “Country, Blue Grass, Blues,” which Hilly thought was the next big thing when he opened his dive in the Bowery in 1973. He was right, but it didn’t happen at his club; what happened there instead was something far more interesting.

CBGB is an inconsequential film with the feel of a made-for-TV-movie, but, if you’re not emotionally attached to the club itself (which closed in 2006) or to the scene it represented, you’ll likely find it amusing and perhaps even informative. Also, the music is good. On the other hand, if you personally stood in front of the stage in the 1970s (or the more hardcore 1980s), you’ll likely splat one of those tomatoes.

Thumbs sideways.

The Doors (1991) – Few movies set in the 1960s get the look, feel, and flavor of the decade right. The Doors is an exception. The film is pretty good beyond its general ambience, too. Lead singer Jim Morrison is played expertly by Val Kilmer and his fiancé Pamela Courson by Meg Ryan.

The iconic ‘60s rock band The Doors rises to fame after making a splash at the Whisky A Go Go in LA. Jim Morrison’s subversive appeal is the key to the band’s success, but he also poses the greatest risk to its existence. An all too familiar, but nonetheless well-told, tale of addiction and personal disintegration follows as Jim is unable to handle money and fame. Jim dies in Paris in 1971 at the age of (what else?) 27, apparently of a heroin overdose though this was never confirmed. Pamela died of an overdose in 1974 at age 27.

Thumbs up.

Birdman : or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (2014) – This film received copious praise at the Academy Awards and elsewhere, and I’m not inclined to argue with it. Riggan Thompson (Michael Keaton) is an aging movie actor who gave up his starring role in a lucrative superhero franchise (Birdman) in order to direct and star in an artsy Broadway adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story. Commercial and artistic success for the play depends heavily on an erratic lead actor (Ed Norton). Riggan’s daughter Sam (Emma Stone) tells Riggan the play is a pretentious vanity production. Riggan’s alter ego Birdman tells him the same thing, much more persistently and rudely. Both have a point. Riggan might have telekinetic abilities that he hides from others. Or he might not: they might be a childlike fantasy to counter his self-esteem issues. In one scene (*mild spoiler*) he rises into the air, flies above city streets, and alights outside the theater; yet, a moment after he enters the theater, a cabbie runs in after him in order to collect his money. If that flight of fancy seems to answer the question of whether Riggan’s powers are all imaginary, it doesn’t. There are other reasons to wonder. Alejandro Iñárritu's direction of the film is unusual, with the bulk of it appearing (presumably through skillful cutting and splicing) to be a single shot.

Thumbs up.

John Wick (2014) – Are you looking for a movie as violent as Kick-Ass or Kill Bill but without the tongue-in-cheek humor? If the answer is no, don’t watch this. But if you find such fare cathartic, this action flick is about as well done as any. The anti-hero is John Wick (Keanu Reeves), a retired hit man for the mob whose wife has just died of natural causes. Unaware of Wick’s former connection to his dad, the chief mobster’s son along with some buddies breaks into his house, steals his car, and kills his dog, a present from his departed wife. So naturally, Wick has to kill everyone involved. It’s only right. It was his dog, man. Since the mobster tries to protect his son, this means taking on the entire mob, plus all the freelance killers out to collect the $2,000,000 bounty placed on Wick’s head. No problem. This is John Wick we’re talking about.

Thumbs sideways. Clarification: the film is fine by the standards of the action genre, but it takes itself too seriously for my personal taste. Also, Hollywood scriptwriters, stop making mob bosses Russian so often. It’s unimaginative and rude.

Forever Lulu (2000) – This film also can be found under the alternate title Along for the Ride. I’ve heard Melanie Griffith’s name mentioned at least a dozen times in the past couple of weeks, each time with the description “Dakota Johnson’s mom” appended. Fame truly is fleeting. One of Melanie’s better performances, however, can be found in Forever Lulu, which came from her own production company.

Lulu (Melanie) is a schizophrenic living in a halfway house. 16 years earlier she and Ben (Patrick Swayze) had a hot and heavy love affair that fell apart just as her mental health issues were intensifying. Unknown to Ben, she was pregnant when they broke up; she gave up the baby for adoption but made a deal with the parents to meet the boy when he turns 16. Ben is now a semi-successful writer married to a psychiatrist Claire (Penelope Ann Miller); he and Claire recently lost their son and are having marital problems. Lulu, on unauthorized leave from the halfway house, turns up and tells Ben about the kid. They go on a road trip to meet him. This disconcerts Claire who understandably does not have a professional detachment about the situation.

The movie received mixed reviews, with the film’s sentimentality making some reviewers uncomfortable. I’m not opposed to sentiment if it isn’t merely maudlin, and it isn’t here. Parts of this movie indeed are uncomfortable, but that is because the script and actors are credible.

Not for everyone, but thumbs up.