Tomatoes–what I’ve been growing

This is my one tomato plant I grew this season.  It was supposed to hide in the middle of the 10-foot planter, surrounded by marigolds, vincas, petunias and alyssum.  Instead, the tomato plant went all ‘Little Shop of Horrors‘, and took over the planter and pushed the marigolds out of the box, and choked off most everything else.  It has grown out of the planter on all sides.  The plant is about 15 feet wide.  There is a wire tomato cage buried somewhere in the middle.

Tomato plant 2018

In mid-October, we had a surprise early freeze, with snow, so I bundled up the plant with a series of blankets and tarps, two nights in a row.  (No homeowners association rules here, thankfully.)Tomato plant 2018 covered RSR

The snow covered the ground and the tarps all night.  The windchill was in the 20s Fahrenheit.  The snow and freeze broke four very old weather records.

Now we are back to sunny warm afternoons and chilly but not freezing nights.  The plant came through the freeze mostly okay, and has a boatload of green tomatoes currently ripening on the vines.

Some of the tomatoes got scarred from the freeze, but continued to ripen.

Freeze scars aw RSR

The scars have so far been confined to the surface.  The inside growth pattern is odd, but the taste is normal.

Freeze scars sliced aw RSR

The planter faces south and gets a full day of sun.  With luck, I’ll get another dozen or so tomatoes before I have to give up on the growing season.

My foster garden helper got adopted by her forever parents this past week.  The little digger was with me for almost 6 weeks, and gained 12 pounds during that time.

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A dress to match the cuffs.

“Don’t buy a suit to match your tie,” is a proverb that has served me very well… except when it should be ignored, such as with this project.  It started with a picture of knit+crochet cuffs I saw online, which led me to grab knitting needles and some cotton yarn from my stash, and experiment with the design.  Soon I had a set of cuffs I loved, with nothing to put them on.

Cuffs RSR

So, with cuffs in hand and no plan except that I might like them on a dress, I went fabric shopping, and came home with this lightweight rayon plaid:

Fabric RSR

For a pattern, I decided on the “Coco dress” from Tilly and the Buttons.  The dress has simple, basic lines; is fast to construct; and worked well for me on a prior dress.

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I sewed the dress and attached the cuffs before deciding what to do with the neckline.  At that point, the answer was obvious–make a collar to match the cuffs.

Collar RSR

The finished dress:  Tada!

Dress on form2 RSR

I’ve now worn the dress once, and am quite happy with it.  Here are a few thoughts on the dress and fabric:

  • The A-line skirt makes the dress bicycle-friendly.
  • The cotton cuffs and collar, and lightweight rayon make a very comfortable dress.
  • The lightweight fabric makes the dress fit easily under a blazer when called for at work, or under a jacket for chilly Fall mornings and evenings.
  • The weight of the dress feels quirky on the hanger because the fabric is lightweight and flowy, while the cuffs and collar are weightier cotton.  The weight disparity isn’t evident when the dress is being worn.
  • The rayon fabric is not very durable.  It will be susceptible to snags.  The edges of the fabric fray profusely, so I had to finish all of the edges first thing.
  • About that plaid.  I should have had my head examined for buying flimsy fabric with a plaid that had to be matched.  Eventually, I figured out a method that mostly worked, but not before several frustrated do-overs.  Marking a straight hem was a bear, too, because of the shifty fabric and the plaid.

A few more views:

The back neck closure was finished with two self-fabric covered buttons and crochet button hole loops.

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The horizontal plaid matching.

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Hall mirror selfie.

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Project Details:

 

The Dressmaker–what I’ve been watching

From the opening images of a sewing treadle in motion, and then street scenes in Liverpool 1944, I was hooked.  The Dressmaker is an independent drama film, 90 minutes long, released in 1988.

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Liverpool 1944

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Then a fleet of US Army trucks came through.  Scores of Yanks in uniform came pouring out into the streets, and the story was on.

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There’s no official trailer that I can find, so here are some screenshots from the movie.

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The colors in the movie are vibrant, which pleasantly offsets the reminders of life in wartime Liverpool, such as grocery store lines, crowded homes and blackout curtains.  I love all of the colorful calico dresses and the household textiles, along with all of the 1940s fixtures, settings and scenes.

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The story line of an orphan teenage girl living with her two very different aunts, and dating a Yank soldier, was intriguing.  But even if the story wasn’t my kind of thing, I still would have watched with no sound, just to see the scenes and clothing.

The movie is based on the book ‘The Dressmaker“, by Dame Beryl Bainbridge, a writer who was born and raised in and around Liverpool.

As the credits rolled, a surprise appeared.  The delightful Freda Kelly, former longtime secretary to The Beatles, had a role in the movie, as part of ‘Couple in Doorway’.  So of course, I had to rewind to find a couple in a doorway.  No luck.  I’ll have to watch the movie again more closely, if I’m going to spot her.

Credits pointing to Freda Kelly

The Dressmaker is currently available for free on these channels:

More on The Dressmaker (1988) movie:

There is a 2015 movie by the same name starring Kate Winslet.  It is not the same story.

Desert Trip; has it been two years already?

Two years ago this week, I went to the best music festival ever–Desert Trip.  I tried writing about it when I got home, but it was all too fresh and overwhelming.  Two years later, it still seems surreal.  But it’s now easier to condense it down to the high points.

This was my first time to see Bob Dylan in person.  I was on cloud nine, hearing Bob sing Like A Rolling Stone and Tangled Up in Blue.  Earlier in the week, he’d been awarded a Nobel Prize.  On this night the Nobel Prize poet treated us to new/alternate lyrics to Tangled Up in Blue.

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The next night, Mother Nature provided a stunning real time harvest moon as a backdrop to Neil Young’s performance of Harvest Moon.

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This was my first time to see Neil perform live, and I couldn’t have been happier with his set list and performance.  He’s a rebel!

My fave song of Neil’s set was Long May You Run.

Sir Paul had my other fave song of the festival, when he called surprise guest Rihanna out onto the stage to do Four Five Seconds.

Each night had amazing fireworks at the end.

McCartney fireworks

On the third night, guitar windmills whirled,

and pigs flew.

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I had a general admission ticket, and decided not to fight for a spot at the front of GA, which was a dense crowd pushed up against a fence still far from the stage.  So I took a spot near the back, where everybody was relaxed and had room to breathe.  I could set my beach chair in place, and then go get a drink or food and easily get back to my spot.

My watch spot Desert Trip RSR

When I say I was far back from the stage, I mean, the performers were like ants on the stage.  I didn’t care.  The sound was great, and so was the vibe around me, and there were excellent video screens.  It felt relaxed, like a concert in someone’s back yard.

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(The band on stage is actually those teeny tiny people in the lower center.)

Accommodations

I opted for tent camping, of course.  This was my little outdoor paradise.  I had cool neighbors all around.  Some brought their own guitars for campsite jam sessions.  It was pure contentment when at the end of a long, amazing day, I would lay down and drift off to sleep hearing people congregated at nearby tents, singing and playing guitar.

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The tent village was well organized.  On my arrival, I was assigned an ‘address’, and driven to it with my stuff by a nice guy in a golf cart.

I took my Esbit alcohol stove, and prepared a few simple meals at my campsite.  One was Curry Cashew Chicken Rice & Veggies in broth.  I adapted this recipe from the amazing backpackingchef.com.  For the veggies, I used carrots, broccoli and cauliflower; all dehydrated at home in advance of the trip.

Curry rice chicken soup from Backpacking Chef

I also took my Bemco backpacker oven, and made myself a couple of scrumptious campsite pizzas.  I’ll save the campsite pizza details for a later post.

For coffee, I took my travel french press mug–a nice gift from my brother.  By loading it with ground coffee and water each night, I had a nice cold brew ready each morning.

French Press

More sights from my little home and the totally awesome tent village:

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For the campers, there was a pop-up downtown with general store, cool vintage boutiques, food vendors, hair salon, game room, entertainment, outdoor games and more.  I could have spent a lot of time here.  The downside was the typical US festival price gouging, but only at the general store.  $12 for a dozen eggs?  Nah, I’ll walk a few more steps and get a scrumptious pancakes and sausage breakfast for $5 instead.

Campers Center food vendors

There was a cool upcycle boutique.  I borrowed this shirt idea for my brother’s birthday gift when I got home, using a t-shirt from his favorite local band.

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One vintage boutique had a type-in ‘Guest book’IMG_20161016_1301236_rewind_kindlephoto-27061867a-w

There were dozens more pop up restaurants, pubs, shops and activities in the main festival area.  One was a vintage vinyl record shop, where the line just to get in the door was never short.

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One vendor served ice cream floats in these awesome metal cups.  The cup is now a permanent part of my camping kit.

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The taxi bikers were creatively shielded from the dust.  There’s an awesome review I’ve linked to at the end, that tells all you need to know about the dust boogers.

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Along with dust boogers, there was the near-permanent dust tan.

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Another totally awesome high point of the festival for me, was meeting up with a cross-country friend.

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Sure, it was hot, but I managed to keep my clothes on, unlike some people.  What the _?_

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During the 3-day festival, people were speculating on who would perform at the next Desert Trip.  A Led Zeppelin reunion was universally mentioned.  Some thought Springsteen and a few others from that next generation of big stars.  Others I thought of were Eric and Ginger as Cream, Jeff Lynne’s ELO, Paul Simon, and Ringo Starr.  Anyway, the answer to date, is that Desert Trip was a one-off.  I’m good with that.  While I’d love to go again, I can’t think of another lineup that I’d be as excited about as the original.

The best music festival ever deserves the best review ever, and here it is!  Seriously, I read it while on my trip home from the festival, and had to hold my hand over my mouth to stifle my laughter so as not to annoy the people sitting around me.    http://www.apparentlythismatters.com/2016/10/desert-trip-review.html 

To that I can only add that I went; I experienced; I got the t-shirt(s).

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Desert Trip wallpaper RSR mark

Sky beam RSR

And that’s enough reminiscing for now.  Next week…a sewing project.

Pirate Radio–what I’ve been watching (and listening to, and knitting to)

This past weekend I caught a nasty bug, which means I spent lots of time on the couch, under warm blankets.  When I would get tired of napping, I’d sit up and drink warm tea, watch feel-good movies, and work on this knit+crochet project.  It is going to be the collar for a dress which is finished…except for this piece.  Stay tuned for a finished garment post.

Knit crochet collar2

One of my most fave feel-good movies got another watch– ‘Pirate Radio–The Boat That Rocked‘.  It’s a fave for a lot of reasons, some of which are:

  • The unbelievable story of how the British government tried to ban rock and roll radio in the 1960s
  • The cool mid-1960s clothes
  • The great 1960s rock and roll music
  • The cast of cool movie stars, who all portray great characters
  • The great ending.

It’s a really entertaining movie.  Here’s the trailer:

For me, the best movies are the ones that give me something new to look up, or read or listen to, to continue the experience after leaving the theatre.  Sometimes it’s a biopic that sends me in search of the biography to read.  (Examples:  Walk the Line, The Aviator, A Beautiful Mind.)  ‘Pirate Radio‘ compelled me to order the soundtrack, and look up some of the gazillion album covers shown in the movie and credits.  Let’s say there were some surprises…

Most importantly, the movie led me to Radio Caroline, the pirate radio station the movie was substantially based on.  The station now streams online.  On finding the station, I became an instant regular listener, and still am.  The station is staffed by real live DJs from the pirate radio days.  Each DJ plays the music he/she wants; new and old.  If it weren’t for them, there are current artists and new music I would never have been exposed to here in the US Midwest stranglehold of corporate radio.  Back in the early days of Radio Caroline, it is shocking ‘who’ we music listeners might never have heard of if it weren’t for pirate radio.

“Without Caroline, we would not have sold a single record.  …  Sometimes the law is more than an ass.  Pirates?  They were angels.” Pete Townshend

“Radio Caroline was more adventurous than most stations around in its day.  It championed bands like the Kinks, who owe much of their early success to Radio Caroline and Tom Lodge.”   Ray Davies  (link)

The Caroline studio today is located in Kent, UK, but several times a year the DJs broadcast from their old ship, the ‘Ross Revenge’, which is now permanently moored in the River Blackwater.  The DJs broadcast, eat, sleep and hang out on the boat, and mix music with their stories and memories from the early days.  During one of these special broadcasts a few years ago, they offered a t-shirt for donation, that I couldn’t pass up.  It was a replica of a Radio Caroline t-shirt worn by Keith Moon.  It’s a fun thing to wear for just the right occasion.

 

(These photos are from the site wornfree.com, that once sold the shirts.)

I could go on and on about what a cool organization it is that keeps Caroline going strong.  But instead I urge you to explore their website, if interested.  They have an extensive online web shop, and they have a fun ‘daily quiz’, of trivia questions.

(Sample Quiz)Radio Caroline Daily Quiz example

In 2017, Radio Caroline commemorated the 50th anniversary of the UK’s enacting of the Marine Offences Act, the law that was intended to shut them down.  Coinciding with that 50th anniversary, the station was finally awarded its own official over-the-air broadcast frequency by the British Government.  Ironically, it was an old BBC frequency.  It was an emotional thing, seeing Radio Caroline finally recognized for its valuable contribution to our culture.

Wikipedia on pirate radio in the UK: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirate_radio_in_the_United_Kingdom 

More Pirate Radio.

Coincidentally, Radio Caroline is doing one of its special broadcasts from the ship this coming weekend (October 20-21, 2018).  For your own real-time Pirate Radio listening experience this Saturday and Sunday, go to the Radio Caroline website, and click the ‘Radio Caroline North’ play button in the header.  I’ll be listening as much as my schedule allows.

They decided to tear down the baseball stadium

This was the last game ever for the Wichita Wingnuts professional baseball team.  After eleven years as a team, they have called it quits, because they are losing their stadium.  This was also the last game to ever be played in the historic Lawrence-Dumont baseball stadium.  The city plans to tear down the 84-year-old stadium and put up a new structure.

The view from the tailgating-picnic lawn outside:

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This towering light scaffold is one of the originals installed in the ballpark.

L-D light tower

The old scoreboard was really fun.  When the opposing team failed to score in an inning, a goose would travel across the board and drop a goose egg for that inning.

The stadium is also home to the National Baseball Congress World Series, which has been held annually for 84 years–the oldest baseball tournament in the country.  Many, many famous MLB players played in the NBC World Series in the early days of their careers.  I wrote about the tournament in 2016.  It’s not every day that Roger Clemens, Adam LaRoche, Jeremy Guthrie, and more ex-MLB stars form a team and show up to play in your tournament.  They brought their families and spent the week with us at the ballpark.  They did it again in 2017, and brought Chipper Jones, Roy Halladay, Heath Bell, Joe Nathan, and some more memorable players with them.  That’s over now too.

National Anthem

Coming back to 2018 and this last game ever.  There was a good crowd in attendance.  Rain threatened all day, but stayed away during the game.

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The first few innings progressed like any game.

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In the 7th inning, the crowd’s singing of ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ was particularly spirited.  “And it’s root, root, root for the Wingnuts!”

The ‘Garbage Gremlin’ made his last pass through the stadium.

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Kids who have collected a bag of trash in the stadium get to walk in a procession behind the Garbage Gremlin near the end of the game.

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Too soon, it was the top of the 9th inning.  The ‘Nuts were ahead 4-1.  Their opponent, the Sioux City Explorers, had 2 outs, so this was likely the stadium’s last batter ever.

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The crowd stood.

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Then it was all over but the handshakes and hugs.

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In 2019, there will be no stopping at the ballpark to watch some baseball before heading home from the office.  There will be no more yelling, “Go ‘Nuts!”  The NBC World Series will have a temp home at the university.

After 2019, we don’t know for sure what the new stadium/venue will look like, but we have now been given an idea.  It may be designed to accommodate other uses too, such as soccer and outdoor concerts.

New Lawrence Dumont Stadium rendering 9-2018

It’s also been confirmed that a new baseball team will move in and take up residence in our new stadium.  Wichita will be the new home of the New Orleans Baby Cakes, the AAA affiliate of the Marlins.  Not too shabby.  Stay tuned….

Velvet Colección–what I’ve been watching

The setting of the Netflix series, Velvet Colección, is a fashion design house in 1960s Barcelona.  The series is in Spanish.  I had several years of la clase de Español in school, but am not fluent.  I understand sporadic phrases supplemented by body language.  Regardless of the language barrier, I’m watching every minute of every episode because of the super cool 1960s dresses, the interior decor of the offices and homes, and the catchy music.

Velvet promo picture

Velvet Colección is a spin off of ‘Velvet‘, a series about a 1950s fashion design enterprise based in Madrid.

Velvet dress

The Velvet Colección story is one I’m sure I would enjoy, so I’m trying to follow as much of it as I can, despite the language barrier.  But, it’s the 1960s dresses, the decor and the music that keep me coming back to watch more episodes, to be inspired to make my own dresses reminiscent of that time.

Velvet setVelvet dresses

There are supposed to be three seasons of Velvet Colección.  According to Wikipedia they’re stopping at three.  Netflix is only offering Season 1 at the moment.  When I finish with Velvet Colección, I’m looking forward to watching Velvet, for lots of lovely 1950s fashion.

Velvet Colección links:

Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velvet_Colecci%C3%B3n

IMDB https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6762348/

 

Dehydrating home-grown tomatoes; trying to speed things up.

Confession:  I don’t like fresh tomatoes very much, except in BLT sandwiches, which I love.  The tomatoes I grow are mainly for dehydrating, for using later in breads and other recipes.  This year I only grew one tomato plant.  It became huge (as in Little Shop of Horrors) but it took forever to start producing.  Then it started producing tomatoes like crazy.  The picture below is the yield from just one day.

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I let the tomatoes sit for a couple of days after picking, and then it was time to prep this batch for the dehydrator.  Normally I would hand-dice them.  Dicing the first batch is always fun, but after that, the dicing becomes drudgery.

This time, I tried speeding things up by using a hand-crank food processor.  I roughly cut the washed whole tomatoes into quarters, 8ths, and 12ths, depending on the size of the tomato.

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I put the large cut pieces in the processor, 2 – 3 tomatoes at a time.

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It took 40-45 turns of the hand crank.  After about 25 turns of the crank, the tomatoes were reduced down so that the rest of the cranks (15-20 more) were super easy.  IMG_20180930_111802484a

The result was small, rough chunks of tomato, similar to diced size, and a lot of liquid juice.  IMG_20180930_111924249a

I strained off most of the juice.

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Then spread the chopped tomatoes on the dehydrator sheets–using the sheets with mini perforations to hold small pieces of food.  [Tip:  I wipe the sheets with a trace of vegetable oil.  It makes the dehydrated morsels easier to remove from the trays.]

This batch of tomatoes only took two dehydrator trays.  If I had diced them by hand, they would have filled 4 – 6 dehydrator trays.

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The next step was to plug in the dehydrator and let it run for a few hours.  A batch is done when the tomatoes feel hard or rubbery, with no wet or squishy pieces.

The dehydrating process for this batch of tomatoes took about 6 hours.  By comparison, a batch of hand-diced tomatoes would have taken about 10 hours to dehydrate.

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The yield of this entire batch fit in an 8-oz jam jar.  By comparison, a similar number of hand-diced tomatoes that I dehydrated last week, filled a pint mason jar.

Jarred tomatoes

This batch yielded almost 4 cups of strained juice.  The juice is a bright red-pink color, which I suspect it is packed with Vitamin A and other nutrients.  Not wanting to discard all of that nutrition, I poured the juice into a muffin tin and froze it.  I’ll try substituting the juice for the liquid called for in bread recipes and Mexican and Italian dishes.  This will be something new, as I’ve used a lot of juices and wheys as substitute liquid in recipes with great results, but I’ve never tried it with tomato juice.  I’m curious to find out if the tomato juice adds an interesting, or weird flavor.

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Conclusion:  Using a food processor to chop the tomatoes is faster, but hand-dicing makes nicer looking pieces, and a bigger yield.

Post-script:  After I wrote this post, I had another nine tomatoes ripe and ready to dehydrate.  This time I tried an electric food processor.  That made a better consistency of chopped tomato than the hand-crank processor.  There was still a lot of liquid, though.

I also tried the immersion blender on a couple of the tomatoes.  That was a no-go; it instantly juiced them.

Mercury 13–what I’ve been watching

This week I watched the Mercury 13 documentary on Netflix.  It is about the thirteen woman astronauts who trained for the space program in 1961.

I tried to be inspired and not let myself be consumed with anger at the stories told in this documentary.  It wasn’t easy.  There were plenty of moments that moved me to tears, at how these brilliant, accomplished aviators and scientists were trivialized and relegated to lesser status for being women.  They were put through more rigorous testing than the male astronauts, and scored better on some tests.  These 13 women qualified, but were banned from the missions to space.

Below is an excerpt from one of the woman astronauts’ testimony before Congress.  She used the exclusion of woman nurses from Civil War field hospitals as her example of why women should be allowed on space missions.

Mercury 13 testimony highlight

National hero John Glenn then testified, drawing laughter from the senators when he said he would welcome qualified women astronauts with ‘open arms’.  Then President Johnson ended the women astronaut program, saying, “We have to shut this thing down.”

More reading:

The IMDB listing.  https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8139850/ 

Wikipedia page.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_13