Channeling Giovanni Ribisi

G. Ribisi played Phoebe Buffay’s (Lisa Kudrow) brother, Frank Jr. in the sitcom Friends back in the 90’s. He was memorable. In the introduction scene where he meets his long-not-seen sister, Frank Jr. spends the bulk of his time with her melting plastic in the apartment kitchen. He was fascinated by melting plastic. It was weird, amusing and quickly established his character as quirky at best, whacked most likely. I confess that, at the time, I didn’t really get it. Melting plastic is a pretty cool thing to do – that part I get – but what kind of sitcom writer uses melting plastic as an introduction for a character?

Now I know.

My friend, J, is clearly channeling his inner Giovanni. He wants to melt. In this case, he wants to melt silver and gold. He has collected a bunch of old sterling silver plates, bowls, cutlery and such (92.5% pure silver) and a few ounces of gold bits and pieces and he ordered all the stuff to get into melting such stuff. He’s keen. And he wants company. Enter Dave stage right. But the proper damn equipment hasn’t arrived yet (Covid delays) and he’s impatient so we started melting yesterday sans all the right equipment.

J can do just about anything and has the attitude to go along with that. He’ll do just about anything, too. Plus he is well equipped with assorted tools and equipment and is more than willing to use rocks, boulders, logs and junk to make a stab at something. Yesterday, we made a stab at melting some precious metals.

J pulled out his Oxy-Acetylene torch, grabbed a slab of granite rock off the ground and made a cement table using some Hardie planks and two saw horses. Then he handed me a thick apron for my bare legs and told me to ‘Go on, Dave, melt that stuff!’ So, I did. I started with the little bits of gold.

But before you melt anything, you have to have something in which to melt it that does not include melting the actual vessel itself. You need to start with a very heat resistant crucible and then treat it to make it even better. J had brought along a pretty dinky crucible but that seemed okay as we had pretty dinky amounts of metal. Step one is to ‘season’ or ‘cure’ or ‘something’ the crucible by melting Borax in it. Melting Borax is like melting salt or sugar. The white powder forms a coating on the crucible. After a bit, the crucible was ‘glazed’ with the melted Borax and ready to receive a concentrated blast of heat directed to the metal that was subsequently placed in the now-ready crucible.

For you own safety, do not underestimate how hot Oxy-Acetylene can get, how Borax occasionally splatters, how melting metal always splatters and how important wearing something thick over bare skin is. Trust me on that. That lesson sinks home pretty quickly.

It is a trickier process than it seems, too. Despite the granite rock tipping and rocking at the most dangerous times, the precariousness of Hardi-planks on saw horses with Sal anywhere nearby, a blazing white-hot torch and none of us knowing what we were actually doing until we were too deep into it to get out, we prevailed. The hardest part was actually pouring the molten metal out of the crucible into the tiny Graphite mold. J had foisted the pouring of liquid gold and silver to me. He’s smarter than he looks.

Plastic is much easier to melt, of course, but it still gets pretty hot. And still I have melted plastic onto my bare skin in the past many times trying to do some cockamamie plastic repair-chore. But here I was working with some really hot stuff! I tried to be careful (a bit late in the process, don’t you think?) and, except for a couple of inadvertent touching of really hot things, I went mostly unscathed. I had on thick gloves that weren’t quite thick enough but still kept things tolerable. Bottom line: molten metal is dangerous stuff and that becomes increasingly more and more apparent as you go along.

Like Frank Jr. though, we kept at it and were rewarded with blobs of melted silver and smaller blobs of melted gold rather than just large blobs of plastic on a kitchen table. We are so much smarter than Frank Jr. don’t you think?

Loonie shown for scale

Maybe not. J was strangely encouraged by it all and is eagerly anticipating getting the proper equipment. He wants to melt more stuff. He wants more blobs. Me? Well, okay…I admit that making blobs wasn’t so bad. Kinda fun, actually. I wouldn’t mind a few more blobs, if I do say so myself. I will definitely go back for another audition.

But, this time, I will be wearing thicker everything.

18 thoughts on “Channeling Giovanni Ribisi

  1. Sure beats bobbing for logs/firewood. Are these blobs your answer to Bitcoin?
    I guess you could use them as OTG currency, but do really think it’ll take off?
    After all, how many of OTGers have access to acetylene torches, or gold?


    • Blobcoin? Sounds bigger than a bitcoin, anyway.
      No, it won’t take off in that sense. In that sense, we are more like the equivalent of the Federal Reserve – aptly named the Rez or, perhaps, the Feral Reserve?
      We melt up as much as we like and blow the OTG economy up!
      I have no real idea what we are going to do with the blobs but I confess that I am kinda dreaming up a hydraulic press device to ‘mint’ our own coins. They would be dated, have OTG on it and the words, “Imperium non habeat fiduciam” (Latin). ‘Don’t trust government.’
      Because Sterling silver is only 92.5% pure, our coins would be 10% heavier at 1.1 oz. $50.00 each – maybe more. Colloquially, they would become known as ‘fatboys’…..might even use my own likeness on one side……
      ….how many do you want?


  2. hahahahaha.
    I was up in the Yukon about 20 years ago.
    Ended up meeting and drinking with an old prospector who was a relative of some Yukon friends who had his own placer claim (mine?).
    Middle of nowhere Yukon. Took us hours to get there.
    He was dressed like a Vancouver crackhead, unshaven, long scraggly hair, dirty clothes…but very , very smart.
    He knew current events, world politics, economics, books, movies, you name it. He knew it. Good old CBC radio and the Post office.
    Anyway. for several days we all partied, ate, swilled and talked and I asked him how he could possibly afford to live up here.
    He pointed to a dented, burnt scabby old 1 gallon metal bucket that held the front screen door open while we walked in and out to grab beer or bbq food.
    “Pick that up!”
    I went over and lifted it by the handle, It was surprisingly heavy and it was half full of melted slag…black, uninteresting, slag.
    “THAT’S how I live up here…..
    The “door blocker”…… in full view of everyone…for days……was a bucket of gold.
    I cut into it with a knife to scrape the black oxyacetylene soot away and ….yup…a bucket of gold.
    His sister laughed and pulled out a nugget on a bracelet on her neck that was half my thumb in size.
    I was amazed at how blase’ they were about having that much money in gold around but when you realize….no one gets in or out of the Yukon without everyone knowing who they are and where they have been……. Better than the cops.
    He would bury all his gold in the Fall and head south for the Winter to Mexico or Hawaii.

    Keep melting that stuff.
    Just dont put it on the internet……


    • You are right, of course. The ‘net’ is a blabber-mouth. Still, even if we blabbed and blobbed up a storm, we are unlikely to get more than ten to 15 ounces tops. There is only so much old sterling crap around the house and basement and silver, of course, ain’t gold. Plus I am currently in negotiations to trade it for JA’s scotch.


  3. you are a real jack of all trades…and smart move of J to let you handle all the dangerous stuff 🙂 . let me know where I can exchange my dollars for local currency when I visit


    • More like a ‘Jack of all tirades’, Wim. But thanks. Still, I am trying to curb the rants, as you might have noticed? Fewer blusters, sturm und drang. Trying to get back to my OTG roots now that Trump is largely off the stage. And, anyway, I just make Sid mad when I diss our institutions and the system-at-large. Or disappoint Kev if I defend same. So, I gotta keep it civil, green, wild and a bit wimpy to keep my dwindling readership.


      • I’m kinda enjoying Trump’s absence ….

        AND the almost daily reports of new investigations into his “business” dealings.

        It will be amusing to watch him throw everyone under the bus to avoid prison.
        And yet, millions will still vote for him if he’s allowed to run again.


      • That may be the point. I am not sure that a convicted felon CAN run….? Get him convicted on something/anything and they have eliminated him from using that weird magnetism.


      • Damn! I wrote that before looking it up – and it turns out that being a convicted felon would NOT stop you from running or winning or even serving your constituents from prison. Kinda makes sense for the US to have that exemption since they incarcerate so many people.


  4. It’s interesting because half the Republican Party loathe Trump and the other half treat him like the Messiah.

    Trump is his own worst enemy.
    The old saying, ” Give the Devil a horse and he’ll ride it straight to Hell” has never seemed more appropriate.

    I will enjoy watching, over the next few months and years, watching Trump twist on a legal pike as business associate and family member turns on him ….or faces decades in jail…… for the crap he has been alleged to have done…

    Better than fiction. You cant make this stuff up.
    I hope to live for another 30-40 years so the penniless family members will sell their souls for interviews about what a diabolically, ruthless a-hole he really was.

    I’ve read “Rage” by Bob Woodward and “The Most Dangerous Man in the World” by his niece Mary Trump…. a PhD in Psychology who lived and struggled under the Trump juggernaut.
    Bothe are excellent reads and they come to the same conclusion……

    The man is a pathological liar and certifiable.

    Nuff said.


    • ‘Nuff said’ is right. That dickhead has had way too much of the attention of the world. He’s garbage and we are wallowing in the ditch with him when we watch him. It’s bizarre and ugly and horrible and yet still fascinating despite the self-disgust felt by the viewer. It takes some discipline for me to NOT continue with Trump. I really wanna move on. I do. Honest. But, geez! What kinda ugly will he get up to next?


      • And the latest?
        Excerpts from Obama’s newest book are raising eyebrows.

        He refers to Trump as a “Corrupt Mother*****, a maniac, a racist and sexist pig, F***ing Lunatic”….

        Not very often one ex-President slags another in such graphic terms…..
        I think Obama is off the Trump Christmas card list and….

        I’m thinkin the book’s gonna be a best seller.


  5. I wonder how the Republicans will react when he starts his own party. For sure that will but the Republicans in the losing seat as they will lose millions of voters. then the Democrats should win for sure!


    • If Trump starts his own party, he will be drained of everything and left a loser (what else is new?) and it will make the GOP weaker for a decade. But not likely longer. The US is polarized. The US is brand driven. The US is full of ill-educated folks listening to idiots and clinging to celebrity. At the very least that describes having only two parties. And, do not forget, the Dems are also as elitist, spoiled and corrupt (just less so) and power corrupts. They will implode after a few presidents – it is just the way of things. This bizarre system in which we are given a choice between A or B means NO choice at all. If you do not like A, you must choose B.
      Little backrooms of influence peddlers choose who the one-of-two (A or B) we get to select from. Canada/Britain is not much better – not better at all.
      In 2016 the ‘Merican population was given a no-choice, Hillary or Trump. Each hated by the other side. It divided the nation even more than the usual no-choice. Democracy, as it is performed by the American Two-party system, is in trouble. All of us are.


  6. Dangerous “melt down”? In 1947 we moved to Stewart Ave opposite Newcastle Island. Across the street was a “tank farm”: Texaco, Standard and Shell. All the petroleum products for Duncan to Port Hardy went through there, Standard Oil were OK with me using it as a shortcut to the beach. (The tank farm is long gone following a fire in the 70’s and Nanaimo city hall used that as an excuse to force a move. The fact that there were a few realtors with influence didn’t hurt. A sawmill had closed some years prior so now an entire block of waterfront is a row of pricy condos with no beach access). Three fishing boats had been run up at high tide, all leaning to st’bd. Later we found out that at least two had been owned by Japanese-Canadian families. All had “one-lungers” but we could not move the fly wheel(s) — years of salt water. BUT. . . . there were many metres (yards) of leaded line. For over a year, with a friend we cut off hundreds of lead pieces each weighing about 4-6 oz. At first, we used my father’s cold chisel to remove them, but then had the bright idea of cutting them out and melting them in our coal fired furnace where the hemp line would burn off. More details another time, but looking back, placing a large apple-juice can full of lead weights and later removing it by pulling it out with a clothes-hanger wire to cool was not the safest method, and bare hands. Wonder we didn’t get lead poisoning. Over a 2-year period we each made about $35. Compare with a paper boy making $10-12 a month back then.!


    • Is this your way of sayin’ ‘you want in?’ I dunno…if it took you two years to make $35.00 you might not be the asset this melting team needs. If on the other hand you made $35 a MONTH over two years, we have a melting business for you!


      • Hey!
        I have a bucket of old Canadian pennies that are probably worth more than their face value……….
        The 21st century version of the Klondike!


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