Saturday, March 31, 2007

Cars are getting smarter



1972 - Swimmer Mark Spitz was presented the Amateur Athletic Union’s coveted Sullivan Award as the outstanding amateur athlete of 1971. Spitz went on to Olympic heroics a few months later, winning seven gold medals.

It was a hit by any name , , ,

1943 - The show, Away We Go, was renamed. Never heard of it? We think you may have. The show opened at the St. James Theatre in New York City and, thanks to the talents of stars like Alfred Drake, Joan Roberts and Howard DeSilva, it became an instant hit. The show ran for 2,248 performances -- until 1948. The musical, which has grossed millions of dollars on stage and as a blockbuster movie was initially produced for the sum of $75,000. It is still legendary among musical productions -- especially after it was retitled Oklahoma! Now you know ... the rest of the story!

Gay Paree

In the City of Lights, we go down the beautiful streets of Paris, under the Arc de Triumphe and there, before us is the site of one of the world’s most photographed and well-known landmarks, the Eiffel Tower.

It was on this day in 1889 that the structure opened in Gay Paree. A beautiful sight, no? Well, not so to writers, Guy deMaupassant and Alexandre Dumas, who condemned the Eiffel Tower as a “horrid nightmare.” Well, no pleasing some people, we guess...

The Eiffel Tower was named after its designer, architect, Alexandre Gustave Eiffel who built the structure for the Paris Exhibition of 1889.

Dietrich: Always Fashionable

By Dior’s John Galliano, a take on Dietrich.

Russia's Artist to the Powerful

Moscow — THERE'S snow on the cupola, sunlight in the brandy and a lot of talk about metaphor, mythical symbolism and how the rich will pay incredible amounts of money for a portrait. With a prolific brush and a deft understanding of ego, Nikas Safronov, who flutters like a designer moth amid canvases in his studio, is Russia's artist to the powerful.
He recasts his country's tycoons and politicians as dukes, earls and other nobility from the past. The reigning figure, naturally, is Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, painted on a steed and resembling Napoleon charging into battle. The Kremlin leader has also been reincarnated as the pope and a shrewd-eyed Francis I, a 16th century French monarch and benefactor of the arts.
Here's Safronov’s vision of George Clooney, whom he has never met, as a powder-wigged dauphin.

Friday, March 30, 2007

"The King and I" opened this night in 1951

The wonderful Rodgers and Hammerstein musical based on Margaret Langdon’s novel, Anna and the King of Siam, opened this night in 1951 on Broadway. The King and I starred Yul Brynner in the role of the King of Siam. The king who, along with his subjects, valued tradition above all else. From this day forward, the role of the King of Siam belonged to Yul Brynner and no other.
Brynner appeared in this part in more than 4,000 performances on both stage and screen (the Broadway show was adapted for Hollywood in 1956).

Anna, the English governess hired to teach the King’s dozens of children, was portrayed by Gertrude Lawrence. Ms. Lawrence and Mr. Brynner acted, danced and sang their way into our hearts with such memorable tunes as Getting to Know You, Shall We Dance, Hello, Young Lovers, I Whistle a Happy Tune, We Kiss in a Shadow, I Have Dreamed, Something Wonderful, A Puzzlement and March of the Siamese Children.

The King and I ran for a total of 1,246 outstanding performances at New York’s St. James Theatre.

On this day in 1947 : Tucker announces car concept

On the day after his acquittal, Preston Tucker celebrated in Chicago, driving one of the few automobiles actually produced in his venturePreston Tucker announced his concept for a new automobile to be named "the Tucker". Having built a reputation as an engineer during WWII when he served as general manager of his company, Ypsilanti Machine & Tool Company, Tucker looked to capitalize on the high demand for cars that post-war conditions offered. No new car model had been released since 1942, and so the end of the war would bring four years worth of car-buyers back to the market. Tucker intended to meet the demand with a revolutionary automobile design. His 1945 plans called for an automobile that would be equipped with a rear-mounted engine as powerful as an aircraft engine, an hydraulic torque converter that would eliminate the necessity of a transmission, two revolving headlights at either side of the carÝs fender, one stationary "cyclops" headlight in the middle, and a steering wheel placed in the center of the car and flanked by two passenger seats. However, a series of financial difficulties forced Tucker to tone down his own expectations for the cars. Production costs rose above his projections and investors became more cautious as the Big Three continued their astounding post-war success. To raise money for his project, Tucker sold franchises to individual car dealers who put up $50 in cash for every car they expected to sell during their first two years as a Tucker agent. The deposit was to be applied to the purchase price of the car upon delivery. The SEC objected to TuckerÝs strategy on the grounds that he was selling unapproved securities. It was just one intervention in a continuous battle between Tucker and federal regulatory bodies. Tucker loyalists espouse the theory that Tucker was the victim of a conspiracy planned by the Big Three to sabotage independent manufacturers. More likely, though, Tucker was the victim of an unfriendly market and his own recklessness. Unfortunately for his investors, the SEC indicted Tucker before he could begin mass production of his cars. He was acquitted on all counts, but his business was ruined. In the end, only fifty-one Tuckers were produced and none of them were equipped with the technological breakthroughs he promised. Still, the Tucker was a remarkable car for its price tag. Whether as an innovator silenced by the complacent authorities or a charlatan better fit to build visions than cars, Preston Tucker made a personal impact in a post-war industry dominated by faceless goliaths

Down Under . . .

What else is new ??

Mother Never Told Me It Would Be Like This

If you know what's good for you . . .

They Built a Wall But They're Still a Couple

Feuding spouses who built a wall through their three-story row house because neither would give it up cannot divorce, a jury ruled in New York.

The jurors rejected the "cruel and inhuman treatment" Chana Taub cited as grounds for divorcing Simon Taub after more than 20 years of marriage.

"I'm dismissing the whole case. That's it," Justice Carolyn Demarest said.

To revive the case, Chana Taub would have to refile on new grounds.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Thom Mayne Creation

SAN FRANCISCO — The new 18-story federal building here, designed by Thom Mayne and the Santa Monica firm Morphosis, is hardly short on symbolism or story lines.

It is a hulking, aggressive tower in the heart of a city that has seemed wary of bold architectural statements in recent decades. And it is perhaps the most ambitious of the federal government's effort, through the General Services Administration's "design excellence" program, to make new courthouses and office buildings models of forward-looking design.

But the tower is most fascinating, by far, as a measuring stick for green architecture. It shows what happens when a celebrated American architect is compelled — by his client, by the younger designers in his own office and, maybe, by his conscience — to embrace sustainability. And it dramatizes a clash between the prerogatives of architectural creativity and the basics of sustainable design — a clash that promises to be repeated as other architects of Mayne's generation and sensibility begin to build in a more efficient way.

Elevators stop every three floors and open onto tall sky lobbies. The idea is to make people walk and talk a bit.
(Nic Lehoux / Morphosis)
The new building is across the street from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, a 1905 Beaux Arts design.
(Nic Lehoux / Morphosis)

A Market on Fire

Most everyone who has been to West Hollywood knows the "Blue Whale," that huge blue glass office building that opened at the Pacific Design Center in 1975. And you can't forget its bright green neighbor that came along in 1988.

Now it's time for the red one — really red, like a new Ferrari.

Today, the $160-million office building starts to take shape with renowned architect Cesar Pelli on hand as decades of plans and dreams and skepticism give way to the formal groundbreaking.

The red glass structure will be on San Vicente Boulevard, just south of Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. Anticipated for years, it would be one of the nation's few bright-red office buildings — practically unheard of in the buttoned-down commercial real estate world that favors muted shades guaranteed not to offend the sensibilities of potential corporate renters.

"This is probably the only place in the world you could get away with it," said dapper New York builder Charles Steven Cohen, owner of the Pacific Design Center and the man betting that business owners will pay good money for a spot in a flame-colored building.
Here's what the Pacific Design Center is expected to look like after completion of the new structure.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"Drifting Leaves"

Oil on board by Robert Wood (grandfather also was named Robert Wood and was the artist who painted "Mountain Majesty").

"Okanagan Vines"

Oil on canvas by Robert Wood.

"The Pancake Woman"

Etching by Rembrandt van Rijn

"Mountain Majesty"

Oil on canvas by Robert Wood (1889-1979).

"The Atmospheric Phenomena"

Photo by cresk on Flickr (Utrecht, Netherlands)

"Dawn" on Flickr

"Dawn" Celebration of Light by athos@9 on Flickr.

Hidden but in Perfect View . . .

This stereogram contains a dinosaur -- Can you find it ??

USS NEW YORK: Never Forget

USS New York
It was built with 24 tons of scrap steel from the World Trade Center.

It is the fifth in a new class of warship - designed for missions that include special operations against terrorists. It will carry a crew of 360 sailors and 700 combat-ready Marines to be delivered ashore by helicopters and assault craft.

Steel from the World Trade Center was melted down in a foundry in Amite, LA to cast the ship's bow section. When it was poured into the molds on Sept. 9, 2003, "those big rough steelworkers treated it with total reverence," recalled Navy Capt. Kevin Wensing, who was there. "It was a spiritual moment for everybody there."

Junior Chavers, foundry operations manager, said that when the trade center steel first arrived, he touched it with his hand and the "hair on my neck stood up." "It had a big meaning to it for all of us," he said. "They knocked us down. They can't keep us down. We're going to be back."

The ship's motto? "Never Forget"

The Beauty of Spring

The Washington Monument enveloped in Cherry Blossoms

Monday, March 26, 2007

No one said life was easy . . .

Rosier Future for a Rare Butterfly

Wild Palos Verdes blue butterflies collect food and fly about in the shrub covered hills surrounding the laboratory of Conservation Biologist Jana Johnson in San Pedro. At left, a female with a male on the right.
(Bob Chamberlin / LAT)

Saturday, March 24, 2007



I can think of younger days when living for my life
Was everything a man could want to do.
I could never see tomorrow, but I was never told about the sorrow.

And how can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?
How can you mend a this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again.

I can still feel the breeze that rustles through the trees
And misty memories of days gone by
We could never see tomorrow, noone said a word about the sorrow.

And how can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?
How can you mend this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again.

"How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?" is a song released by the Bee Gees in 1971. The song had been written by Barry and Robin Gibb in August 1970, when the Gibb brothers had reconvened following a period of break-up and alienation. They said that they originally offered it to Andy Williams, but ultimately the Bee Gees recorded it themselves and included it on their 1971 album, Trafalgar.

Maurice, Robin and Barry Gibb -- the Bee Gees

Lenticular Clouds are Simply Amazing

Lenticular clouds are simply one more example of the beauty and complexity that can be the result from a simple process in nature.These lens-shaped clouds are often mistaken for UFO’s because of their weird shape that seems to mandate a prior design. But like evolution, it is just a process that has designed these kind of clouds...

Maxine on Men

Friday, March 23, 2007

Did You Know ??

Rumor has it that 10 years after DB Cooper pulled off his daring skyjacking caper where he demanded 4 parachutes and $200,000, and then proceeded to parachute from the plane with the money, a young wannabe attempted to pull off a similar caper. The young man boarded the plane in the same airport in Portland and demanded 2 parachutes and $20,000, but a stewardess persuaded him to reduce his demands to a rental car and three cheeseburgers.

Ever Wonder How the Paparazzi Got Their Name ??

Italy gave them their name. It was Federico Fellini's classic 1960 movie "La Dolce Vita" that chronicled the exploits of a nuisance photographer, Paparazzo, as he stalked celebrities in a carefree Rome.

It's Said That Some People Still Have a Curiosity About UFO's

In August 1967, two children outside a village in central France reported seeing "four small black beings" fly from the ground and slip headfirst into a sphere that shot skyward in a flash of light and a smell of sulfur.

The alleged extraterrestrial sighting is among 1,600 UFO case files spanning the last half a century that the country's space agency opened to the public.

The National Center for Space Studies' posting of more than 100,000 pages of testimony, photographs, film and audio from its secret UFO archives onto its Internet site, , is unprecedented among Western countries. Most, including the United States, consider such records classified matters of national security.

Within three hours, the agency's server crashed.

Remembering the Ambassador's Splendor

Before Disney Hall and Segerstrom Hall, Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena was renowned as one of the premier concert halls in Southern California.

The 1,262-seat glass-and-concrete structure, surrounded by an elegant reflecting pool, opened in 1974. The Ambassador Auditorium held its last performance on May 17, 1996, before going dormant. The venue reopened in December of 2004 but is now owned by Harvest Rock Church, a nondenominational Christian congregation that draws about 1,000 worshipers each Sunday.

(Photo by Hyungwon Kang / LAT)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Clash of the Titans

The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia has recently added The USS Monitor Center. This 18,000 square foot exhibit focuses on the epic battle in 1862 between Civil War giants USS Monitor and CSS Virginia (originally named Merrimack). It was the first battle of two ironclads. Through artifacts, multimedia and interior recreations you'll learn more about the marine combat that took place in the Civil War, and the technology that made it possible.

A featured exhibit is a full scale replica of the USS Monitor.

The Airbus A380 Came Up Short

Somewhere over the Atlantic, the lower-deck bar of Lufthansa Flight 8940 was jammed elbow to elbow, and the clientele was antsy.

Stephane Auter, one of 491 people on the maiden voyage to the U.S. of the world's largest passenger aircraft, was sipping his second glass of private-label Champagne when chief purser Peter Jacobus appeared.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please go to your seats," Jacobus said sternly. "Right now!"

The bar was designed to accommodate 15 imbibers, and Jacobus, having counted nearly 30, decided it was best to end the party.

The Airbus A380, more than 239 feet long, nearly 80 feet tall and tanked up with enough fuel to top off 5,000 compact cars, had come up short.

"The plane is big, but the bar is too crowded," concluded Joe Brancatelli, a travel blogger who scored one of the 64 business-class seats on the super-jumbo jet's first test flight to the U.S. Auter glumly agreed, predicting that airlines probably would decide against equipping their super-jumbos with bars. "This type of thing," he said, "will disappear."

The insufficiently capacious bar, in the end, was the only major beef from the passengers, aside from those who got vertigo watching live shots of the takeoff and landing from cameras mounted on the plane's tail, nose and belly.

More Wisdom From Maxine

They Say It Can Be Everything to Everybody . . .

Relocatable M-vironments are made of a wide variety of manipulatable components that can be connected in many different ways to a matrix of modular support frames.
The frames can be assembled and disassembled in different ways to accommodate a wide range of changing needs.
The M-House, made from the M-vironment system, consists of a series of rectangular panels that are attached with hinges to an open space frame grid of seven interlocking cubes.

Michael Jantzen
Gorman, California