Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Manhattan Sunset


"Landscape for Meditation"

Oil painting by Sergey Kovrigo (http://www.arthit.ru/oil-painting-5.html)

Mountain Lake in the High Sierras


It's always been quite common . . .

Look what I found today . . .

While taking my daily walk I happened upon this pelican basking in the sun on the Manhattan Beach Pier. I've never seen this before. Eventually he did fly off toward Hermosa Beach but I'm afraid he was suffering from some malady. I hope he survives.
The pelicans were out in great numbers today doing their usual flying formations, their dive bombing exercises, and in general, having a great time. It's fun watching them soaring and diving -- such beautiful birds.

Remember . . . when the Circus came to town . . .

Oct. 31, 1898: The Wallace Circus "played havoc with the attendance records of the public schools" as "classrooms were depopulated to fill the big tent," The Times reported. "The great crowd that filled every inch of space in the canvas amphitheater was not all of children, for all the children there had two to six able-bodied adult protectors," the newspaper said.

The circus featured bareback horse-riding, horse tricks, two baby lions and much more. Among the acts: the Stirk family of trick bicycle riders, the Nelson family of acrobats, the Vortex Sisters on a "Ferris wheel trapeze," eight women called the Dellameads who posed as statues of historical figures, and the Grand Corps de Ballet of Paris. "The Sisters Earl, whose bones had apparently been removed, reclined on their bosoms and grinned cheerfully at the spectators with their faces peering out from between their legs, danced friskily around their heads without moving them from their places, and perched high in the air, twisted themselves into knots," The Times said.

(article is from Los Angeles Times "TIMES PAST")

Monday, October 30, 2006

RUSH . . . . . . HUSH !!!!

Special Note: Keith Olbermann awarded Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter second and third place, respectively, in his nightly "Worst Person in the World" segment on CNN, honoring Bill O'Reilly with first place for his shifting positions on the existence of the so-called "attack on Easter," which Media Matters also documented in an April 17 item.

We can learn a lot from Calvin


This is rather funny when you know who Spike Jones is.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The True Story of Dracula: Vlad the Impaler

The history of Vlad Dracula is surrounded by myth and legend It's difficult sorting out the facts from the legends, the truth is that nobody is too sure what is what. We do know that he was the character that was the inspiration for Bram Stokers Novel "Dracula" being the very famous Count Dracula. The book then brought about the very vampires that are well known to this day and made Vlad the Impaler a famous character from history.

Vlad the Impaler -Tepes (pronounced tzse-pesh) was born in the town of Sighisoara in Transylvania (now known as northern Romania) in 1431 and later ruled the area of Southern Romania known as Wallachia. His father was Vlad Dracul who was a knight in the Order of the Dragon which was a union of central and Eastern European rulers who were a tad worried about the rising Ottoman empire.

The Order of the Dragon's coat of arms was a dragon (the Ottomans) and a cross (Christianity). Vlad Dracul bore this coat of arms on everything, flags, coins, and his seal. It attracted the nickname of "Dracul" probably coming from the story of the evil dragon in St. George and the Dragon, Dracul meaning Devil in Romanian.

The second son was soon born to Vlad Dracul - that being Vlad II - therefore the name developed an "a" representing the son of Dracul - "DRACULA", the son of the Devil.

The word "tepes" in Romanian means "impaler" and Vlad was so named because of his cruel and gruesome habit of impaling humans and leaving them to rot in the sun as a means of punishing his enemies.

In fact, Vlad was called Tepes (the Impaler) only after his death in 1476. Impalement was considered a particularly gruesome form of execution, the victim was stuck on a sharp stake usually the width of a big burly man's arm. Vlad was said to especially enjoy mass executions, where several victims were impaled at once, and their stakes hoisted upright. As they hung suspended above the ground, the weight of their bodies would slowly drag them downwards, causing the sharpened end of the stake to pierce their internal organs causing a slow painful death. In order to better enjoy these mass spectacles, Vlad routinely ordered a banquet table set up in front of his victims, and would enjoy a leisurely supper amid the pitiful sights and sounds of the dying.

It is estimated that Vlad killed some 20,000 men, women and children - the amount of people he killed varies from anywhere between 20,000 to 500,000. He showed no mercy and often tortured his enemies before killing them.

At the same time that Vlad became notorious for his sadism, he was also respected by his subjects because of his fierce campaigns against the Turks. He was a respected as a warrior and a stern ruler who tolerated no crime against his people, and during his reign erected several monasteries. He was a hero that was both worshiped and feared by his people.

But maybe there was a bit more to Vlad's murderous bloodthirsty habits than we first thought. In 1985 an Idaho physician Dr. Thomas McDevitt suggested that he may have suffered from a bizarre allergic reaction to blood. He claimed that in some allergic reactions to a given substance, sufferers also developed an addiction to that same substance, and if deprived of it they could react in a highly bizarre and deranged manner. Could Vlad of just been throwing a tantrum every time he craved blood? Portraits of the price depict him with dark circles beneath his eyes, puffy cheeks and a sallow pallid complexion - classic characteristics of some types of allergy victim.

There are various descriptions of the death of Dracula. The most popular being that he was killed in battle against Turks near Bucharest in December 1476. It was also said that he was murdered by disloyal Wallachian boyars just as he was about to overcome the Turks and send them packing. Other stories describe the Impaler falling in defeat, surrounded by rotting bodies of his loyal Moldavian troops. There is another account of Vlad accidently being struck down at the moment of victory by one of his own men.

Whatever happened to Vlad's body? Well that's surrounded by plenty of legends as well, none can be confirmed:

The general thought amongst Vlad historians and experts is that the body of Vlad the Impaler was entombed near the alter in a Snagov Monastery located on an Island in the middle of a lake accessible only by boat. It is well documented that his head was taken and put on display in Constantinople for all to see that the reign of this terrible man was truly over.


Alexey Savrasov's "View of the Swiss Alps from Interlaken"

1862, Oil on canvas. The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Los Angeles' hillside star is shining again

There is something about the Griffith Observatory, which reopens this week after a four-year renovation, that makes it more than mere landmark, something akin to an exemplar of Los Angeles itself. The observatory was the indirect outgrowth of a scandal, kissed by criminality. It was willed into existence by grand ambition, delayed by politics, hashed out in the courts and then, at last, it came of age in gilded splendor: a fan favorite that drew millions in its first years. And as the observatory grew to maturity, it found its way to film and there sealed its place as an iconic emblem of the city it perches above. "It's a powerful memory site," said D.J. Waldie, an author and observer of Los Angeles and Southern California culture. Grand and optimistic, solid in construction and radiating confidence in science, the observatory is the rare institution that binds Los Angeles to its past, he said — "a durable site for memories" in a city that "has a tendency to scrub its past clean."

The observatory got its start through the generosity of Griffith J. Griffith, an early Los Angeles silver mining magnate with plenty of need for redemption. In 1903, Griffith forced his wife to kneel and pray and then shot her in the head. She lived. He went to prison and then, after nearly two years behind bars, returned home to Los Angeles and resumed his life. A free man again, Griffith in his later years devoted much time and attention to leaving a better Los Angeles. He donated the vast and hilly land that was to become Griffith Park — more than 4,000 acres — and he offered to give the city $100,000 to build an observatory on the property. Describing the project, Griffith captured early Los Angeles' sense of boundlessness and reach. "Ambition," he told the city's mayor, "must have broad spaces and mighty distances."

PROOF EARTH ROTATES: A visit to the Griffith Park Observatory has been a rite of passage for generations of Southland schoolchildren. An estimated 50,000 students a year visited the observatory before it was closed for renovations. In this March 1953 photo, a group of schoolchildren watches a replica of a Foucault pendulum, one of the observatory's original exhibits.

(Excerpts from an article by Jim Newton, Los Angeles Times)


THE cobblestone street is dark and slick from a drizzly rain; the clouds are heavy and low, swallowing the steeple of nearby Christ Church Spitalfields and light spills from the Ten Bells Pub. More than 100 years ago, during what came to be called the Autumn of Terror, serial killer Jack the Ripper stalked this small pub in London's East End. Two of his victims were thought to have walked out its door into a night of horror. Today, the pub has become the centerpiece of one of London's most popular sightseeing tours — the Jack the Ripper walk.

(Excerpts from an article by Rosemary McClure)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Niagara Falls Rainbow


Melbourne Skyline


Thunder Ridge Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Photo by Lynchburgvirginia on flickr


The Millau Viaduct is part of the new E11 Expressway connecting Paris and Barcelona and features the highest bridge piers ever constructed. The tallest is 240 meters (787 feet) high and the overall height will be an impressive 336 meters (1102 feet), making this the highest bridge in the world.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Hollywood Boulevard may see a new Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum

HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD: A drawing of the $55-million Madame Tussauds wax museum, which would be built next to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
(Michael Rotondi / ROTO Architects)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Believe it or not -- these are identical squares

Read each line aloud without making any mistakes. If you make a mistake you MUST start again without going any further.

This is this puzzle
This is is puzzle
This is how puzzle
This is to puzzle
This is keep puzzle
This is an puzzle
This is idiot puzzle
This is busy puzzle
This is for puzzle
This is forty puzzle
This is seconds! puzzle

Now go back and read the THIRD word in each line from the top.


"Body Boarder" by Allen J. Schaben

Looks like this Body Boarder may not be meeting up wirh his board anytime soon.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Three people check into a hotel. They pay $30 to the manager and go to their room. The manager suddenly remembers that the room rate is $25 and gives $5 to the bellboy to return to the people. On the way to the room the bellboy reasons that $5 would be difficult to share among three people so he pockets $2 and gives $1 to each person. Now each person paid $10 and got back $1. So they paid $9 each, totalling $27. The bellboy has $2, totalling $29. Where is the missing $1?

(Check Comments for the answer)

Do you have an extraordinary sense of observation ??

Budapest Castle

a castle fit for the likes of Dracula

The Theme from the Gilligan's Island T V Shows

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
a tale of a fateful trip.
That started from this tropic port,
aboard this tiny ship.
The mate was a mighty sailin' man,
the skipper brave and sure.
Five passengers set sail that day,
for a three hour tour, a three hour tour………
The weather started getting rough,
the tiny ship was tossed.
If not for the courage of the fearless crew,
the Minnow would be lost; the Minnow would be lost.
The ship took ground on the shore of this uncharted desert isle,
with Gilligan, the Skipper too,
the Millionaire, and his Wife,
the Movie Star, the Professor and Mary Ann,
here on Gilligan's Isle.

And then, after our 30 minutes of fun with
the Castaways was done, we would hear…….

So this is the tale of our castaways,
they're here for a long, long time.
They'll have to make the best of things,
it's an uphill climb.
The first mate and his skipper too,
will do their very best,
to make the others comfortable,
in the tropic island nest.
No phones, no lights, no motor cars,
not a single luxury.
Like Robinson Crusoe,
it's primitive as can be.
So join us here each week my friend,
you're sure to get a smile.
From seven stranded Castaways,
Here on Gilligan's Isle.

The Theme for the Beverly Hillbillies T V Series

Lyrics by Paul Henning (they're not using themes for T V Series very much anymore)

Come 'n listen to my story 'bout a man named Jed
A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed
And then one day, he was shootin' at some food
And up through the ground come a bubblin' crude
Oil, that is, black gold, Texas tea

Well, the first thing you know, old Jed's a millionaire
Kin folk said, Jed, move away from there
Said, Californy is the place you oughta be
So they loaded up the truck and they moved to Beverly
Hills, that is, swimmin' pools, movie stars

Well, now it's time to say goodbye to Jed and all his kin
They would like to thank you folks for kindly droppin' in
You're all invited back again to this locality
To have a heapin' helpin' of their hospitality
Hillbilly, that is, set a spell, take your shoes off

Y'all come back now, hear?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

"Sunset in the Rockies"

Oil on canvas by Albert Bierstadt

TOP HAT with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers

Considered by many to be the quintessential Astaire-Rogers movie, Top Hat (1935) encapsulated the dreams of Depression-ridden audiences -- the glittering world of the playful rich dancing through life in top hat, white tie and tails, "stepping out, my dear, to breathe an atmosphere that simply reeks with class...."
All the ingredients are there: snappy dialogue, a roguish Fred pursuing an aloof Ginger (who thinks he's someone else), the marvelous supporting cast: the rattled Edward Everett Horton, the permanently flustered Eric Blore, the outrageous "Italian" Eric Rhodes ("I am no man. I am Bedini!"), the deprecating humor of Helen Broderick --combine all that with words and music by Irving Berlin and the amazing sets by Van Nest Polglase---and you have a real gem of a film. . . when the only special effect was talent.

Sailing in the Sky

Photo by Juni Mond


Oh!! Remember the Days of Oppulent Elegance . . .

United Artists Theatre Mural


A Lesson in Aging with Beauty

THE CLASSICS: Roman ruins dot Trier, one of Germany’s oldest cities, including this ancient bath where Emperor Constantine once spent time.
(Walter Storto/German Nat. Tourist Bd.)


WRAPPED IN SCENERY: In Bavaria, tiny Buchenberg is a place of pastoral fun, with forest hikes and swimming at a lake with a grassy beach.
(Hans Peter Merten/German Nat.Tourist Bd.)

"A Hindu Apple for Modern Eve, The Cult of the Yogis Lures Women to Destruction."

On Oct. 22, 1911 the Los Angeles Times reported:

"The yoga class is becoming as popular as … the Shakespeare class. It is the direct means by which a Swami reaches the public. It is the promise of eternal youth that attracts women to yoga, the promise which is found intertwined with most of the pagan religions."

Yoga, The Times warned, "is a dangerous knowledge to lure any but the best balanced brain. In the pursuit of it, too often the listening devotee is offering her sacrifices even at the altar of her soul." As evidence, The Times cited women who had started to sunbathe nude or "abandoned home and husband and children to join the sun worshippers."

Eleven Years Running and Passing and WINNING !!

On this day one year ago the Purple Raiders of Mount Union, Ohio lost their first football game in eleven years. Winners of 110 straight regular-season games, the last time the Purple Raiders had lost a game was Oct 15,1994 when they were beaten 23-10 by Baldwin-Wallace.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Big Move to Cut Pitchers Down to Size

As the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals prepared to meet in the 1968 World Series — the anticipated duels between Denny McLain (above left) and Bob Gibson (above right) underscoring a historic "Year of the Pitcher" — baseball's owners were planning equally historic changes that would help regenerate offense and restructure the game on and off the field. Responding to a season of record dominance by pitchers and a decade basically dominated from the hill — "You only had to look at what [Sandy] Koufax and [Don] Drysdale did with a Maury Wills bunt and steal in Los Angeles," Commissioner Bud Selig said — the owners lowered the mound from 15 inches to 10 (there were suspicions that it had been as high as 20 inches in some ballparks, including Dodger Stadium), altering the slope and angles from which pitches were delivered. In addition, umpires were quietly instructed to narrow the strike zone, basically depriving pitchers of the high or rule-book strike that has only recently been reestablished by commissioner's office edict.

"Pitching had been so dominant in the '60s, and especially in '68, that the owners, quite properly, felt it was hurting the game," Selig said, speaking specifically of the decision to lower the mound. There are differing opinions as to whether '68 was part of a pitching-oriented pattern that needed to be addressed or an anomaly that found the owners overreacting. The certainty is that there has never been a comparable season in the context of overall pitching domination.

The tone was set in April, when Houston and the Mets were unable to score a run for six long hours before the Astros prevailed, 1-0, on an error in the 24th inning. In midsummer, the National League won the All-Star game, 1-0, with the only run scoring on a double play.

Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax

For an appropriate finishing touch there was Drysdale's then-record 58 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings or those consecutive days in September when Gaylord Perry of San Francisco and Ray Washburn of St. Louis pitched a no-hitter against each other's team.

It was a season in which Carl Yastrzemski (above) was the AL's only .300 hitter at .301, and Willie McCovey won the NL's runs-batted-in title with the lowest total (105) since 1920.

Major league hitters batted a cumulative .237, still the record low, and the per-game runs average of 6.8 for two teams was the lowest since the dead-ball era of 1908.

In addition, both of the leagues had earned-run averages under 3.00 for the last time, and two pitchers, McLain (above) of Detroit and Gibson of St. Louis, won their circuit's most-valuable-player awards, in addition to the Cy Young Award.

McLain was 31-6, the last 30-game winner in the majors. Gibson (above) was 22-9, with a phenomenal ERA of 1.12. The Cardinals right-hander pitched 28 complete games and 13 of the numbing 339 major league shutouts. He also won his last 15 regular-season decisions. McLain won 24 games on the lower mound of 1969 and Gibson won 20, and the post-'68 changes certainly didn't represent the total end of quality pitching. Among starters, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Randy Johnson, to cite a few, have produced potential Hall of Fame careers since then, and Nolan Ryan, among others, already has been inducted.

(excerpts from an article by Ross Newhan)