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‘Bob Ross Experience’ Opens in Indiana, Happy Trees and All



MUNCIE, Ind. — Lexi Vann was losing her race with Bob Ross.

The 19-year-old from Carmel, Ind., sporting a bushy brown Bob wig that defied the stiff Halloween afternoon breeze, dipped her brush into a pool of purple paint and began tracing the outline of a mountain range, taking her cue from an episode of “The Joy of Painting” on a screen set up on the lawn.

But Ross, whose curly perm and soothing voice were at odds with his breakneck pace, finished his work, titled “Sunset Aglow,” five minutes ahead of her. “As soon as he started going with the trees, I was lost,” Ms. Vann said, her cheeks flushed.

She was among the more than 100 fans of the PBS painter who made the trek — in her case 50 miles, but others came from as far away as Arizona — for the sold-out opening day of the “Bob Ross Experience,” a $1.2 million permanent exhibit and painting workshop series in the city where the beloved television host filmed his show from 1983 to 1994, and inspired generations of fans with his yes-you-can positivity.

Their pilgrimage brought them to Ross’s former broadcast studio, painting workshop and temporary art gallery sheltered in a collection of historic buildings that are now part of the Minnetrista museum and gardens. Fans dressed as the painter sampled ice tea — a signature that he sipped between takes — and tried to recreate “Gray Mountain,” a vibrant landscape from 1992, in a workshop led by a certified Ross instructor. Revelers meandered along a winding boulevard in a costume parade, with winners receiving Bob Ross bobbleheads, complete with miniature brush and bucket.

“This is fantastic,” Brett Estes, the Best Bob winner said, outfitted in a Bob wig (from a costume shop), beard (real) and light blue button-down. His brushes were tucked in the front pocket.

But the crown jewel awaited fans inside Ross’s studio, the former public television station WIPB, inside the Lucius L. Ball House (the family gave the country the iconic glass kitchen jar).

Fifteen masked visitors per hour, with timed tickets, could pose with Ross’s easel, palette and the set of brushes he used to create what he called his “happy little trees.”

“We made it as close as possible to how it appeared when he filmed here” while still accommodating visitors, George Buss, the vice president of visitor experience at Minnetrista, said.

The Experience — offered Wednesday through Sunday — is akin to an Easter egg hunt: Items that belonged to Ross, like the brushes he used on the show, are safely behind acrylic. But everything else is fair game to touch. “We really wanted people to be immersed in the space,” Mr. Buss said. “We have little discoverables everywhere, and we know people will find new things each time they visit.”

Ross lovers can slip on a vintage J.C. Penney shirt like the ones he wore on the show, or flip through a stack of his fan mail. And they can pore over shelves full of Ross essentials like a jar of Vicks VapoRub, which he used to clear his sinuses to ensure a smooth, velvety voice, and the hair pick he kept in his back pocket to fluff out his perm.

But the ultimate Ross Zen awaits fans in the far corner of the studio, where a painting of a misty mountain rests on an easel, one of some 30,000 (including copies) that the artist boasted of producing in a 1991 interview with The New York Times. (Ross died in 1995, at age 52, of complications from lymphoma; his works — if you can find one — have been offered for up to $55,000 on eBay.)

An episode of “The Joy of Painting” plays on the camera monitor — and visitors who step in front of the easel will find themselves standing in Ross’s shoes. The experience can be overwhelming, leaving some visitors in tears.

They can also step across the hall into a re-creation of a 1980s American living room, its shelves filled with such memorabilia as a Bob Ross Chia Pet and a Bob Ross toaster. “We wanted to also show Bob as fans watching at home in their living room knew him,” Mr. Buss said.

In another building half a mile up the boulevard, a dozen masked people hunched over socially distanced canvases, trying their hand at “Gray Mountain,” in a master class led by Jeremy Rogers, a 21-year-old Ross instructor. (The four workshops offered this weekend were capped at 12 people per class, but Minnetrista plans to offer the three-hour sessions twice a month going forward, for $70 per person.)

Mr. Rogers has been certified since 2018 — one of at least 5,000 instructors to complete a three-week training course at the Bob Ross Art Workshop and Gallery in Florida. It offers certification in landscape, floral and wildlife painting and requires that students complete approximately two paintings per day) “It’s pretty intense,” he said, adding that it was the speed demanded of instructors that he found most challenging. Ross completed each painting live on air, with no breaks or cutaways, in 26 minutes and 47 seconds.

“To do it as fast as him —” Rogers paused and shook his head. “Man.” He said it takes him about an hour to complete a painting. Doug Hallgren, a certified since 2003, managed to match Ross stroke for stroke in a demonstration Saturday on the lawn.

The trick, he said, is to embrace “happy little accidents” as Ross called them. “It’s about learning not to go back,” Mr. Hallgren said. “No matter how much you might want to.”

Jessica Jenkins, the vice president of collections and storytelling at Minnetrista, said that while critics saddle Ross with a reputation for kitsch, she’s thrilled to finally see him getting the recognition he deserves. The Smithsonian Museum of American History acquired four Bob Ross paintings and a selection of memorabilia last year, and while the museum has not announced its time frame for exhibiting them, the Bob Ross Experience currently displays six of the 26 paintings in the Minnetrista collection.

“Lots of people don’t view Bob as a real artist, which is upsetting because he made it simple on purpose for TV,” Ms. Jenkins said. She walked over to a Ross seascape — a gift from Ross’s widow — on the wall in the Ball home. “This is vastly more than what he did on television,” she said. “These are the ones he took his time on; the ones he did for him.”

Also on view is an exhibit of 29 Bob Ross paintings that have never been publicly displayed in Oakhurst, a historic Ball home nearby. A majority are loans from Muncie residents, who tell how they acquired the paintings from Ross’s demonstrations in local malls, or as gifts from the painter himself.

So how did America’s television painter end up in a college town in the middle of the country? Before the early 1980s, it’s doubtful that Ross, who was born in Florida, could have placed Muncie on a map. But from 1983 until 1994, the painter visited the Midwest city four times a year to tape his show.

(He had filmed the first season of “The Joy of Painting” in a Washington, D.C. suburb, but the audio and video quality were poor. Ross, who traveled the Midwest teaching painting workshops, wanted to expand his audience beyond the East Coast. So when he advertised on Muncie’s public television station and his classes sold out, he suspected he had something special on his hands — and struck a deal to film the series here.)

And the community has long been invested in preserving his legacy. Minnetrista has been planning the $1.2 million project since 2018. It received a $250,000 grant from the Indiana Tourism Council, as well as support from Bob Ross Inc., the company that owns “The Joy of Painting” and the Bob Ross name, among other patrons. (One of them is Twitch, the streaming service that attracted 5.6 million viewers when it live streamed an all-episode marathon of “The Joy of Painting” in 2015.)

Organizers hope to open the second stage of the project, which includes the renovation of the second floor of the L.L. Ball home and the opening of a permanent painting workshop and gallery space there, next fall.

Ms. Jenkins acknowledges that the middle of a pandemic may seem like a strange time to kick off an interactive exhibition like this one, but she says everyone could use a dose of Ross’s calm and positivity right now.

“My biggest fear in getting into this project was that I’d find out he wasn’t the person I thought he was,” Ms. Jenkins said. “But the Bob Ross you see on TV is completely sincere. He put everyone else first constantly. I was like, ‘Oh, thank God, he was not a jerk.’”

By: Sarah Bahr
Title: ‘Bob Ross Experience’ Opens in Indiana, Happy Trees and All
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Published Date: Sun, 01 Nov 2020 20:07:29 +0000

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What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?




People have always liked to drink on board flights, especially people from Australia. Therefore, it should be no surprise to anyone that there was an inflight bar offering in the 1970s.

Ansett Airlines were a major player in the Australian domestic market up until their demise in September 2001. For many years, there were two domestic airlines, Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA) and Ansett.

Ansett’s Inflight Bar

At the time, Ansett operated Boeing 727s, Douglas DC-9s and Fokker F27 Friendships on domestic routes in the country. Airline tickets were quite expensive, with tariffs agreed upon by both airlines thanks to Australia’s weird two-airline policy at the time.

While tickets were expensive and food complimentary, you still had to pay for a drink at the bar. Here is an inflight bar menu from the era, showing the drinks available and their prices.

Clearly the pricing is astounding by today’s standards – 30 cents for a beer? I’ll have thirty-three please! I like how Australian gin is 35c while the imported gin is just 5c more. Which would you choose?

You can tell it is from another era as you can buy cigarettes on board. These price up at 45c, a far cry from the extortionate prices people in the west pay these days for a smoke!

Overall Thoughts

The on board offering is pretty comprehensive for internal flights, and I imagine you’d be hard pressed not to find something you might like. In those times, all payments would have been by cash as well, which would have meant a lot of coinage being handled on board.

Of course, things haven’t changed too much over the years. On many airlines you pay for your drinks just as they did back in the 1970s. Shame the prices aren’t the same of course!

Did you ever buy drinks on board flights from the inflight bar back in the day? Do you still? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Daniel Tanner on via Wikimedia Commons.
Menu image by Ikara on Australian Frequent Flyer.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?
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Published Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2020 15:03:14 +0000

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These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?




The shrimp stop swimming at dusk and gather near the river’s edge. After sunset, they begin to climb out of the water. Then they march. All night long, the inch-long crustaceans parade along the rocks.

The parading shrimp of northeastern Thailand have inspired legends, dances and even a statue. (Locals also eat them.) During the rainy season, between late August and early October, tourists crowd the riverbanks with flashlights to watch the shrimp walk.

Watcharapong Hongjamrassilp first learned about the parading shrimp, and the hundred thousand or more tourists who come each year to see them, about 20 years ago. When he started studying biology, he returned to the topic. “I realized that we know nothing about this,” he said: What species are they? Why and how do they leave the safety of the water to walk upstream on dry land? Where are they going?

Mr. Hongjamrassilp, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, decided to answer those questions himself. His findings appeared this month in the Journal of Zoology.

Working with wildlife center staff members, Mr. Hongjamrassilp staked out nine sites along a river in Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani province. They found shrimp parading at two of the sites — a stretch of rapids, and a low dam.

The videos they recorded revealed that the shrimp paraded from sundown to sunup. They traveled up to 65 feet upstream. Some individual shrimp stayed out of the water for 10 minutes or more.

“I was so surprised,” Mr. Hongjamrassilp said, “because I never thought that a shrimp can walk that long.” Staying in the river’s splash zone may help them keep their gills wet, so they can keep taking in oxygen. He also observed that the shells of the shrimp seem to trap a little water around their gills, like a reverse dive helmet.

DNA analysis from captured shrimp showed that nearly all belonged to the species Macrobrachium dienbienphuense, part of a genus of shrimp that live mostly or fully in freshwater. Many Macrobrachiumspecies spend part of their lives migrating upstream to their preferred habitats.

Most parading shrimp that Mr. Hongjamrassilp captured were young. Observations and lab experiments showed that these shrimp probably leave the water when the flow becomes too strong for them. Larger adult shrimp can handle a stronger current without washing away, so they’re less likely to leave the water.

Walking on land is dangerous for the little shrimp, even under cover of darkness. Predators including frogs, snakes and large spiders lurk nearby, Mr. Hongjamrassilp says. “Literally, they wait to eat them along the river.”

And the shrimp can survive on land for only so long. If the parading crustaceans lose their way, they may dry out and die before they get back to the river. A few times, Mr. Hongjamrassilp came across groups of lost shrimp dead on the rocks, their once-translucent bodies baked pink.

Yet most navigate upstream successfully, and scientists have spotted other freshwater shrimp around the world performing similar feats, scaling dams and even climbing waterfalls.

Leaving the water when the swimming gets tough may have helped these animals spread to new habitats over their evolutionary history, Mr. Hongjamrassilp said. Today, the number of parading shrimp in Thailand seems to be declining. He thinks tourist activity may be a factor, and learning more about the shrimp might help protect them.

The study’s authors made “some really excellent observations,” said Alan Covich, an ecologist at the University of Georgia who was not involved in the research. But understanding why the Ubon Ratchathani shrimp move upstream, and how far they travel, will require more research, he said.

“The most surprising thing to me was that it attracted so many tourists,” Dr. Covich said. He doesn’t know of any other example of people gathering to appreciate a crustacean in quite the same way.

“We have crayfish festivals, we have all kinds of things,” Dr. Covich said, “but generally it’s people eating them, not watching them move.”

By: Elizabeth Preston
Title: These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?
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Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:02:07 +0000

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Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?




There are reports that Aer Lingus have applied for 1,500 slots at Manchester Airport for the Summer 2021 season. This will allow the airline to base four aircraft there and service flights to the United States.

At present, there have been no press releases from the airline stating what is going on. Even so, it probably makes sense for the Irish airline to do this in the current market.

Aer Lingus And Manchester

From what is known, there will be three Airbus A321LRs and an A330 based at Manchester. These will operate non-stop services to New York JFK, Boston, Chicago and Orlando, and the season starts on 28 March 2021.

With Thomas Cook having gone out of business, there is likely space for another competitor. New York and Orlando will see competition from Virgin Atlantic, while the other two routes have no airline flying at the moment.

Aer Lingus has been connecting passengers over Dublin very successfully from the UK regions for a while now. Due to this, they will have visibility on traffic patterns, potential yields and more, making this an informed decision.

I imagine they also hope to cream off some of the connecting traffic that routes through London Heathrow on British Airways and Amsterdam on KLM among others. It would prove to be quite successful.

Transatlantic Joint Venture Approval

The US Department of Transport has tentatively given its approval for Aer Lingus to join the oneworld transatlantic joint business. This is operated by American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia and Finnair.

These airlines coordinate schedules and pricing, share revenues and expenses. For the consumer, it means more choice – those making a booking on British Airways across the Atlantic will also see options on American Airlines on the BA web site as one example.

Theoretically, it would allow people seeking flights on the British Airways web site to automatically be given options to fly non-stop with Aer Lingus, along with the Manchester-London Heathrow-US city connecting itinerary.

Whether Aer Lingus will join the oneworld alliance, even in a oneworld connect capacity remains to be seen. Frequent flyers would welcome it, especially those in Ireland.

Overall Thoughts

No doubt the boffins have been working behind the scenes to see if the business case for transatlantic flights from Manchester stack up. As things have proceeded as far as a slot application, I would guess chances are good that it will go ahead.

Either way, let’s see if this happens and if it does, whether Aer Lingus will stay for the long haul. If they can make more money elsewhere, they’ll up sticks and leave. Regardless, it is an interesting development in European aviation.

What do you think of Aer Lingus starting transatlantic services from Manchester? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by N509FZ via Wikimedia Commons.
Aer Lingus A321neo LR by Pitmanaaron via Wikimedia Commons.
Business class cabin via One Mile At A Time.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?
Sourced From:
Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:03:48 +0000

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