Monday, April 30, 2007

We All Loved "Our Miss Brooks"

Eve Arden (Eunice Quedens) was born on this day in 1908. The Emmy Award-winning actress played the endearing "Our Miss Brooks" and so many other memorable characters in Anatomy of a Murder, Grease, Stage Door, and Tea for Two. She died Nov 12, 1990.

Changing a Boulder into a Hoover

Maps had to be changed as Boulder Dam was changed back to its original name, Hoover Dam. It was 1947 and some people, mostly those who live in the community of Boulder, Nevada, still refer to the dam as Boulder Dam. Many of them think that changing the dam’s name was a damn shame.

Say 'queso' for this group photograph

American photographer Spencer Tunick said he hoped to draw his largest crowd of nude people for a shoot next month in Mexico City's enormous Zocalo, which can hold more than 80,000 standing people. Tunick's record is his shoot in 2003 with 7,000 volunteer models in Barcelona, Spain. Shown above is one of his photos from a few years ago and that's not sheep grazing.
From Times Wire Reports
Here's another of his photos. I wonder if this is some kind of reaction to the performance.
This Spencer Tunick photo was taken in New York's Central Park.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

"Thinker" to Ponder Elsewhere

Rodin's "The Thinker" has sat at the entrance to the Detroit Institute of Arts for decades, welcoming generations of visitors to one of the nation's largest fine arts museums.

Now, for the first time since acquiring it in 1922, the Institute of Arts is loaning out the iconic sculpture while the 600,000-square-foot museum is closed this summer for the final phase of a $158-million renovation that began six years ago.

Museum officials have arranged to move the statue to the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, just east of Grand Rapids, Mich., until the work in Detroit is completed.

"The Thinker" will leave Detroit May 22 and go on display the next day at Meijer Gardens, where it will stand outdoors through Oct. 31 in a grassy area near a waterfall.

Guess Who ??? . . . OK, I Knew You Knew!!!

Our Gang, also known as The Little Rascals or Hal Roach's Rascals, was a long-lived series of American comedy short films about a troupe of poor neighborhood children and the adventures they had together. Created by comedy producer Hal Roach, Our Gang was produced at the Roach studio starting in 1922 as a silent short subject series. Roach changed distributors from Pathé to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in 1927, went to sound in 1929, and continued production until 1938, when he sold the series to MGM. MGM continued producing the comedies until 1944. A total of 220 shorts and one feature film, General Spanky, were eventually produced, featuring over forty-one child actors. In the mid-1950s, the 80 Roach-produced shorts with sound were syndicated for television under the title The Little Rascals, as MGM retained the rights to the Our Gang trademark.

The series, one of the best-known and most successful in cinema history, is noted for showing children behaving in a relatively natural way. While child actors are often groomed to imitate adult acting styles, steal scenes, or deliver "cute" performances, Hal Roach and original director Robert F. McGowan worked to film the unaffected, raw nuances apparent in regular kids. Our Gang also notably put boys, girls, whites, and blacks together in a group as equals, something that "broke new ground," according to film historian Leonard Maltin. Such a thing had never been done before in cinema, but was commonplace after the success of Our Gang.

Rod McKuen on Jacques Brel

"If You Go Away" is a song in English based upon the French song "Ne Me Quitte Pas", written by Jacques Brel. The English lyrics were written by Rod McKuen as part of a larger project to translate Brel's work. "If You Go Away" is considered a pop standard and has been recorded by many artists, including Greta Keller, for whom some say McKuen wrote the lyrics. Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, EmilĂ­ana Torrini, Neil Diamond, Scott Walker and Dusty Springfield have also recorded versions of it, with several of the numerous versions becoming hits and achieving success on the charts.

Here are the lyrics for "If You Go Away"

If you go away on this summer day,
Then you might as well take the sun away;
All the birds that flew in the summer sky,
When our love was new and our hearts were high;
When the day was young and the night was long,
And the moon stood still for the night birds song.
If you go away, if you go away, if you go away.

But if you stay, I'll make you a day
Like no day has been, or will be again;
We'll sail the sun, we'll ride on the rain,
We'll talk to the trees and worship the wind.
Then if you go, I'll understand,
Leave me just enough love to fill up my hand,
If you go away, if you go away, if you go away.

If you go away, as I know you will,
you must tell the world to stop turning
Till you return again, if you ever do,
for what good is love without loving you,
Can I tell you now, as you turn to go,
I'll be dying slowly till the next hello,
If you go away, if you go away, if you go away.

But if you stay, I'll make you a night
Like no night has been, or will be again.
I'll sail on your smile, I'll ride on your touch,
I'll talk to your eyes that I love so much.
But if you go, I won't cry,
Though the good is gone from the word goodbye,
If you go away, if you go away, if you go away.

If you go away, as I know you must,
There'll be nothing left in the world to trust,
Just an empty room, full of empty space,
Like the empty look I see on your face.
I'd have been the shadow of your shadow
If I thought it might have kept me by your side.
If you go away, if you go away, if you go away.

In His "Solitude" the Duke Had Imagination

The man who became one of the twentieth century’s finest composers, Edward Kennedy Ellington, was born on this day in 1899 in Washington, D.C. Right from the git-go, the handsome, sharply dressed teenager (that’s where he got the nickname, Duke) was headed for success.
At first it was art. He won a poster-design contest and an art scholarship, left school and started a sign-painting business.

But it was his natural piano-playing ability that attracted the young women, so Duke Ellington headed in that direction. He played with Elmer Snowden’s band and took over leadership in 1925. They played and stayed at New York’s Cotton Club from 1927 through 1931, broadcasting shows live on the radio. From then on it was tours, recordings, and history in the making. Ellington would be one of the founders of big band jazz.

Friday, April 27, 2007

This Bird even had his own "song"

On this, his birthday, we pay tribute to the man who created the fun-loving, slightly manic bird he called, Woody Woodpecker. Cartoonist Walter Lantz was born on this day in 1900 in New Rochelle, New York.
Many remember Walter Lantz only for Woody; however, one of his most famous moments was the creation of an animated opening sequence for Universal Studio’s first, major musical, The King of Jazz in 1930.

Lantz’ Woody Woodpecker made his first appearance in the 1940 film, Knock, Knock. He became so popular that his wacky laugh and taunting ways were celebrated in The Woody Woodpecker Song. By 1948, Lantz and his studio were celebrating the hit record success of that song, too.

Walter Lantz put several more decades of wonderful cartoon characters and films under his belt before he was honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science. It was 1979 when he was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Oscar ceremonies.

Walter Lantz has left us and many generations to come with a lifetime of enjoyment; one can still see Woody Woodpecker in cartoons on television. You’ll recognize that zany laugh anywhere!

A nice return on a $200 bet . . .

An Epsom, England, man who 10 years ago bet that he would live to be 100 collected $50,000 this week.

Alec Holden, a retired engineer who plays chess every day and eats quite a bit of porridge, told the BBC that at age 90 he felt as if he "was going to live forever," so he went to the bookmaking firm William Hill and placed his bet. The oddsmakers thought it unlikely and gave him 250-to-1 odds.

Holden attributed his long life to not worrying too much, taking lots of holidays, and the fact that "I keep breathing. If you stop breathing, you're in real trouble."

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Look at the "DOW" -- hotter than ever !!

On this day in 1983, for the first time, the Dow Jones industrial average moved over the 1200 mark, just two months after smashing the 1100 barrier. Today the Dow Jones industrial average finished above 13,000.

Let's have another vodka stinger and celebrate one of Sondheim;s greatest shows

In 1970, the musical, "Company" opened on Broadway. It ran for 705 performances before parting company with appreciative audiences at the Alvin Theatre in New York City. This is Sondheim at his best.

Radio's First Superstar

On this day in 1932, Ed Wynn was heard on radio’s Texaco Star Theater for the first time. Wynn, a popular vaudeville performer, demanded a live audience to react to his humor if he was to make the switch to radio. The network consented and Wynn became radio’s first true superstar. He would later make the switch to TV. Shown above is Ed Wynn, on the right, with Buster Keaton.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

1937 : Nazis test Luftwaffe on Guernica

During the Spanish Civil War, the German military tested its powerful new air force--the Luftwaffe--on the Basque town of Guernica in northern Spain.

Although the independence-minded Basque region opposed General Francisco Franco's Nationalist forces in the Spanish Civil War, Guernica itself was a small rural city of only 5,000 inhabitants that declared nonbelligerence in the conflict. With Franco's approval, the cutting-edge German aircraft began their unprovoked attack at 4:30 p.m., the busiest hour of the market day in Guernica. For three hours, the German planes poured down a continuous and unopposed rain of bombs and gunfire on the town and surrounding countryside. One-third of Guernica's 5,000 inhabitants were killed or wounded, and fires engulfed the city and burned for days.

The indiscriminate killing of civilians at Guernica aroused world opinion and became a symbol of fascist brutality. Unfortunately, by 1942, all major participants in World War II had adopted the bombing innovations developed by the Nazis at Guernica, and by the war's end, in 1945, millions of innocent civilians had perished under Allied and Axis air raids.
Guernica is a painting by Pablo Picasso, which he was already working on at the time of the Nazi German bombing of Guernica, Spain, by twenty-four bombers, on April 26, 1937 during the Spanish Civil War, and which he decided to name after it. In any case, a number of people variously estimated between 250 and 1,600 were killed in the air raid and many more were injured.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Just thinking about JackBenny is enough to make me laugh

Jack Benny (February 14, 1894 in Chicago, Illinois – December 26, 1974 in Beverly Hills, California), born Benjamin Kubelsky, was an American comedian, vaudeville performer, and radio, television, and film actor. He was one of the biggest stars in classic American radio and was also a major television personality.

Benny was renowned for his flawless comic timing and (especially) his ability to get laughs with either a pregnant pause or a single expression, such as his signature exasperated "Well!". In hand with his dear friend and great "rival" Fred Allen — their long-running "feud" was one of the greatest running gags in comedy history — Benny helped establish a basic palette from which comedy since has rarely deviated, no matter how extreme or experimental it has become in their wake.

On this day in 1942, Ingrid Bergman signed on for Casablanca

Ingrid Bergman signed with Warner Bros. to play Ilsa, opposite Humphrey Bogart, in Casablanca (1942). Bergman was under contract with David O. Selznick, but he allowed her to do Casablanca in exchange for the right to use Warner Bros.' Olivia de Havilland in another film.

Bergman was born in Sweden, orphaned at a young age, and raised by family. After high school, she attended the Royal Dramatic Theater School and just a year later was landing lead roles in Swedish films. Her performance in Intermezzo (1936) so impressed David O. Selznick that he invited her to Hollywood to reprise her role in the U.S version. In 1937, she married a Swedish dentist, and the couple had a daughter.

In Hollywood, she soon won acclaim for roles in films like For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943); Gaslight (1944), for which she won an Oscar; and Notorious (1946). Her career came to a sudden halt in 1949, however, when she left her husband for Italian director Roberto Rossellini. She and Rossellini married the following year and had three children, one of whom is actress and model Isabella Rossellini.

Bergman's desertion of her family provoked an outcry in an America already concerned about the scandalous behavior of Hollywood stars. No U.S. studio would touch her, but she starred in Italian films directed by her husband-none of which were successful. After seven years, she pulled off an unexpected comeback, appearing in Anastasia (1956) as an amnesiac refugee who claimed to be the daughter of the late Czar. She won an Academy Award and continued to appear in U.S. films. She won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1974 for Murder on the Orient Express. She died in 1982 after a long battle with cancer.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ozzie was a man who knew how to re-invent himself

During a period that was to last twenty years, the Nelson Family--Ozzie, his wife Harriet Hilliard, and their two sons, David and Ricky--were regarded as the preeminent icon of the ideal nuclear family. From his bandleading days of the mid-1930s through his reign, a generation later, as the bumbling patriarch of television's best known family, Ozzie Nelson was able to conflate, reduce and transform the professional activities of his family's personal reality into a fictional domestic banality.

Best known for their long-running television series, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, the Nelson family began their successful togetherness with the marriage of saxophone-playing Ozzie to his "girl-singer," Harriet in the 1930s. Ozzie's deliberate hesitancy and self-deprecating humor were the perfect foil for the sweet and sassy Harriet, who interrupted her songs with sarcastic banter. During the 1940s, Ozzie, Harriet and their band were regulars on radio's Red Skelton show, and in 1944 when Red was drafted into the army, they took over his time slot. For Skelton, the Nelsons stuck to their big band routines with occasional married-couple skits providing non-musical breaks, but when Ozzie conceived the pilot for his own program he decided to venture more into the realm of domestic comedy, writing a script based on his own family life.

Le Reve" blends stunning visuals and amazing acrobatics

LAS VEGAS - Casino entrepreneur Steve Wynn, who brought floating pirate ships and dancing fountains to the Nevada desert and showcased the wildly successful water show “O,” has returned to the life-giving force with the opening of his newest resort.

Besides soaring waterfalls and idyllic ponds, Wynn Las Vegas features “Le Reve: A small collection of imperfect dreams.” The artful, acrobatic show by Franco Dragone, Cirque du Soleil’s former creative director, plays out in a pool of water instead of a stage.

The Harp sets the Gold Standard with an Ethereal "Carpet of Sound"

ANYONE attending a symphony concert can spot the gorgeous, gleaming harp, even from the last row of the last balcony. Children and adults alike gasp at the size of it, at its sparkling gold crown towering above the musicians. Lou Anne Neill, principal harpist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic for the last 24 years, remembers the first time she glimpsed a harp in the back of an orchestra. "I couldn't see the strings from where I was sitting," she says. "I just saw hands move through the air, and these beautiful sounds were coming out of the instrument."
The harp came into its own thanks to 19th and 20th century composers as well as Harpo Marx, above in “A Night in Casablanca” from 1946.
(The Kobal Collection)

Unconventional Forms by Abe

AS Hitoshi Abe, founder of Japan's award-winning Atelier Hitoshi Abe, takes over as chair of UCLA's Department of Architecture and Urban Design, an exhibition of his work, "Body: Hitoshi Abe," opens Wednesday at the university's Perloff Gallery.

Running through June 6, the show highlights Abe's exploration of how matter and technique affect each other, with a focus on six projects designed by his company from 1993 to 2004.

Abe, known for spatially complex, structurally innovative designs, says the exhibition of his diverse works will demonstrate his focus on "the relationship between material and technology."

"Everything is made using technology as a kind of medium," he says. "Usually, when you think about a building, there's a foundation, there's a post, a beam made of concrete or steel, but most of the projects that I'm presenting are not constructed that way.

"You see what technology can do to create architecture in a different way." Shown above is Reihoku Community Hall which was designed by Abe.

Would you believe 3,145 miles on a single gallon of gas -- it sounds impossible!

Here's a secret: you don't really need funky alternative fuels or an electric motor to trim your energy consumption on the road. Sometimes all it takes is a little ingenuity. A team of Canadian engineering students won the annual Supermileage race in Michigan with its 80-lb. carbon-fiber Mark V, which can travel 3,145 miles on a single gallon of gas. That's thanks to details like a curved underbody, an ultra-fuel-efficient 54-cc engine and a driver who understands why the turtle beat the hare. The catch? You have to drive lying down, and the windows don't open.

The Changing Horizon

Storm clouds blow over downtown Los Angeles as clearer skies appear on the horizon.
(Luis Sinco / LAT)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

John Muir Loved the Sierras and Saved Yosemite

John Muir (April 21, 1838 – December 24, 1914) was one of the first modern conservationists. His letters, essays, and books telling of his adventures in nature, and wildlife, especially in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, were read by millions and are still popular today. His direct activism helped to save the Yosemite Valley and other wilderness areas. The Sierra Club, which he founded, is now one of the most important conservation organizations in the United States. His writings and philosophy strongly influenced the formation of the modern environmental movement.

As the public held it's breath . . .

In 1986, the once-notorious Lexington Hotel in Chicago received a visitor, in the person of Geraldo Rivera, along with a camera crew. A record audience watched as the long-sealed vault of racketeer, Al Capone was opened during a much-hyped TV special. Guess what? All that Geraldo found were broken bottles and no trace that Capone and his gang had ever stashed anything there.

ANNIE "shines" like the top of the Chrysler building.

The Broadway musical, Annie, opened at the Alvin Theatre in New York City in 1977. Andrea McArdle was a shining star in the title role. Annie continued on the Great White Way until January 2, 1983.

"The One, The Only . . .Groucho"

In 1949, the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for Broadcasting was presented to You Bet Your Life star, “The one, the only, Groucho Marx.” This was the first time the honor had been awarded to a comedian.

The European Capital of Culture

In hopes of scaring away pigeons, the English city of Liverpool is introducing mechanical falcons that squawk and flap their wings.

The pesky pigeons, which feast on junk food and then foul the city center with droppings, are an embarrassment to Liverpool, chosen as next year's European Capital of Culture.

Workers spend hours daily scraping up droppings at a cost of about $320,000 a year, the City Council said. It is buying 10 Robops, short for robotic bird of prey, for about $4,000 each. Two have been installed.

The city had weighed several options, including introducing live falcons (like the one above).

Friday, April 20, 2007

Can you find 6 cougars here ??

Hidden Image Stereograms Are A Challenge

Tips on Parallel-Viewing: Looking Through A Solid Object
To do parallel-viewing, you must aim your eyes through the image and into the distance. The problem is there's a solid object in the way -- a computer monitor or a book or something! How do you look through a solid object?! Well, generally, we look directly at what we want to see and leave the X-ray vision to Superman. In this case, we've got to develop our own superpowers.

Suggestion: imagine you are looking through a window.

In the image above, see if you can find the three interlocking rings.

Harold Lloyd in "Safety Last"

1893 - Harold Lloyd was born on this day in 1893. The comedian actor starred in: For Heaven’s Sake, Slapstick, Feet First, Safety Last, The Sin of Harold Diddlebock. He died Mar 8, 1971.

"Those Were The Days"

Your Hit Parade, starring Kay Thompson, Charles Carlyle, Gogo DeLys and Johnny Hanser, was first broadcast on radio this night in 1935. A youngster named Frank Sinatra would later be part of the program as a featured vocalist. Your Hit Parade stayed on the radio airwaves for 24 years.
Snooky Lanson (seen here on the right) would later host the program when it made the transition from radio to TV. Other long-time regulars on the TV version were (left to right): Russell Arms, Gisele MacKenzie and Dorothy Collins. They were the lucky ones who got to present the top seven songs each week.

Since many songs stayed on the list for weeks on end, these vocalists had to invent new ways to present the hit parade. On April 24, 1959, Your Hit Parade died. The regulars just didn’t fit with the new rock ’n’ roll hits. Imagine, if you can, Snooky Lanson singing Hound Dog.

The original title of the radio show was, Lucky Strike Hit Parade, sponsored by, you guessed it, Lucky Strike cigarettes. The cigarette company continued to sponsor the TV show (those were the days when cigarette companies sponsored lots of TV shows); and the opening theme song was Be Happy, Go Lucky.

A Fitting Tribute to a Great Man

American sculptor Daniel Chester French was born in Exeter, New Hampshire on April 20, 1850. His colossal seated figure of Abraham Lincoln presides over the Lincoln Memorial.

One man's dream is another man's nightmare

The angles and curves of Duane Hagadone’s 64,000-square-foot home in Palm Desert are meant to mimic the mountain ridge. The original plan had called for the home to be half this size. So far this "dream" has cost $30 million.
(Don Bartletti / LAT)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Hallmark Greetings for That Special Occasion


I 've always wanted to have

someone to hold,

someone to love.

After having met you ..

I ' ve changed my mind.

-------------------------------------- -------------

I must admit, you brought Religion into my life.

I never believed in Hell until I met you.


As the days go by, I think of how lucky I am...

That you ' re not here to ruin it for me.


Congratulations on your promotion.

Before you go...

Would you like to take this knife out of my back?

You ' ll probably need it again.


When we were together,

you always said you ' d die for me.

Now that we ' ve broken up,

I think it ' s time you kept your promise.


Looking back over the years

that we ' ve been together,

I can ' t help but wonder...

"What the hell was I thinking?"


The Friendly Confines

Wrigley Field is a baseball stadium in Chicago that has served as the home ballpark of the Chicago Cubs since 1916. It was built in 1914 as Weeghman Park for the Chicago Federal League baseball team, the Chicago Whales. It was also the home of the Chicago Bears of the National Football League from 1921-1970.
Located in the residential neighborhood of Lakeview, Wrigley Field sits on an asymmetric block bounded by Clark and Addison Streets and Waveland and Sheffield Avenues. The area surrounding the ballpark contains bars, restaurants and other establishments and is typically referred to as Wrigleyville. The ballpark's mailing address, as many fans of The Blues Brothers know, is 1060 W. Addison Street. During Cubs games, Cubs fans will often stand outside the park on Waveland Avenue, waiting for home runs balls hit over the wall and out of the park. (However, as a tradition, Cubs fans inside and sometimes even outside the park will promptly throw any home run ball hit by an opposing player back onto the field of play, a ritual depicted in the 1993 film Rookie of the Year.)

Wrigley Field is nicknamed The Friendly Confines, a phrase popularized by "Mr. Cub", Hall of Famer Ernie Banks. Since 2006, its capacity has been 41,118, making Wrigley Field the fourth-smallest and most actively used ballpark in 2006. It is the second oldest active major league ballpark (behind Fenway Park), and the only remaining Federal League park. When opened in 1914, Wrigley Field had a seating capacity of 14,000 and cost $250,000 to build.

The First Detective Story Was Published in 1841

Edgar Allen Poe's story, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, first appears in Graham's Lady's and Gentleman's Magazine. The tale is generally considered to be the first detective story.

The story describes the extraordinary "analytical power" used by Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin to solve a series of murders in Paris. Like the later Sherlock Holmes stories, the tale is narrated by the detective's roommate.

Following the publication of Poe's story, detective stories began to grow into novels and English novelist Wilkie Collins published a detective novel, The Moonstone, in 1868. In Collins' story, the methodical Sergeant Cuff searches for the criminal who stole a sacred Indian moonstone. The novel includes several features of the typical modern mystery, including red herrings, false alibis, and climactic scenes.

The greatest fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, first appeared in 1887, in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel A Study in Scarlet. The cozy English mystery novel became popularized with Agatha Christie's Miss Marple series in the 1920s, when other detectives like Lord Peter Wimsey and Ellery Queen were also becoming popular. In the 1930s, sometimes called the golden age of detective stories, the noir detective novel became the mainstay of writers like Dashiell Hammet, Raymond Chandler, and Mickey Spillane. Tough female detectives such as Kinsey Millhone and V.I. Warshawski became popular in the 1980s.

Cutting-edge Urban Living

Loft life in Los Angeles is both edgy and comfortable -- a hybrid style of urban living.

"Excuse me, Folks . . ."

In 1985, a Central Regional High School student, Al Leiter, used a blazing 85-mph fastball to strike out 32 batters on the way to a 0-0 tie! The game, played in Berkeley Township, NJ, was called after 13 innings. Leiter’s effort was just five short of the record set in 1971. When asked about the game being called at that time, Leiter looked at reporters and said, “Darn. Excuse me, folks, I have to go screw my arm back in place...”

"Carousel" and John Raitt

1945 - The musical Carousel, based on Molnar’s Liliom, opened at the Majestic Theatre in New York City. John Raitt and Jan Clayton starred in the show which ran for 890 performances. Music was by the team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"Sex" Lands Mae West in Jail

In 1927, Mae West was sentenced to 10 days in jail for obscenity. She had written, produced, and directed Sex, a Broadway play about a gigolo, which the courts condemned for its scandalous content. She continued writing plays and battling censors and finally scored a Broadway success with her 1928 play, Diamond Lil. West went on to become a Hollywood star and one of the most highly paid women in the United States.