Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"Breaking up is hard to do"

Pelicans roost on the massive rocks that make up the 2.2-mile-long Long Beach breakwater. Boulders were shipped from Catalina Island to create the World War II barrier that protected the Pacific Fleet. Now there's a proposal to remove some of the breakwater to create bigger waves, cleaner beaches and more surf tourism.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"a unique masterpiece "

In the early seventeenth century, between the royal residences of Vincennes and Fontainebleau, a small castle stood at the confluence of two small rivers. The domain was called Vaux-le-Vicomte: it was then just a place on the map and its reputation had still to be made. In 1641 a 26 year-old parliamentarian, Nicolas Fouquet, purchased the estate. Fifteen years later the first stone of a unique masterpiece was laid; it was to be the finest château and garden in France. This achievement was brought about through the collaboration of three men of genius whom Fouquet had chosen for the task: the architect Le Vau, the painter-decorator Le Brun and the landscape gardener Le Nôtre. The artistic and cultivated sensibility of their patron was a great stimulus to their talents. They were not alone; the poet La Fontaine, Molière, playwright and actor, Madame de Sévigné, Pellisson and Scarron formed the circle around this great patron of literature and the arts.

Vaux-le-Vicomte was, moreover, the setting for one of the finest "fêtes" or celebrations, of the seventeenth century. It was lavish, refined, and dazzling to behold, but rich in hidden drama. The King had asked to visit, to throw Fouquet off the scent; secretly he had decided that Fouquet would die. Overcome with joy at the chance of parading Vaux-le-Vicomte before the sovereign whose faithful servant he remained, Fouquet assumed that he would take over the post of prime minister vacated by Cardinal Mazarin. Two weeks later Fouquet was arrested. He was never to leave prison alive. It may have been under threat of abandon or destruction, but Vaux-le-Vicomte has survived, thanks to the unfailing determination of three centuries of dedicated individuals. Resplendent today as it was in former times, Vaux-le Vicomte stands as a symbol of the intelligence, taste and independence of its creator, Nicolas Fouquet.

New ships are on horizon

Despite a slow period for cruise lines, three new ships -- including two megaships that will hold more than 3,500 passengers each -- are setting sail from European shipyards this summer. The lineup includes the 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream, above, Carnival Cruise Lines' largest ship; Celebrity Cruises' newest vessel, the Celebrity Equinox; and the 4,000-passenger MSC Splendida. Carnival Dream will debut at Monfalcone, Italy, on Sept. 21, with an inaugural schedule that includes visits to European and Caribbean ports. Although Dream is the largest ship for Carnival, several other lines have larger ships, including Royal Caribbean's Freedom and Voyager series. But Dream has some interesting features, including a large water park and whirlpools that extend over the ship's beam.

Monday, July 27, 2009

"Unassisted Suicide"

Here's an item you shouldn't include in your ever-growing arsenal of electronic devices, including cellphones, iPods, PDAs, GPS trackers and laptops: the e-cigarette.

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday released an analysis of 19 varieties of electronic cigarettes that said half contained nitrosamines (the same carcinogen found in real cigarettes) and many contained diethylene glycol, the poisonous ingredient in antifreeze. Some that claimed to have no nicotine were found to have low levels of the drug.

E-cigarettes are promoted by their manufacturers as safer than traditional cigarettes because they do not burn tobacco. Instead, a lithium battery in the cigarette-shaped device heats a solution of nicotine in propylene glycol, producing a fine mist that can be inhaled to deliver nicotine directly to the lungs. An LED glows red at the tip and they even emit puffs of white smoke similar to that seen in stage shows. The devices are available in more than 4,000 retail outlets nationwide, as well as on many websites, with a starting cost of $40 to $70. Over the last year, sales have grown from about $10 million to $100 million, according to the Electronic Cigarette Assn., the industry's trade group. They also come in a variety of flavors, including chocolate, mint and apple, which make them appealing to children and adolescents which I suppose would include all smokers.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

"Flight of fancy"

Calais, France -- A French pilot Saturday recreated the first flight across the English Channel in a monoplane like the one that Louis Bleriot flew in 1909, complete with a wooden propeller, bicycle wheels and an engine about as powerful as a lawn mower.

"The Lost World"

A waterfall shoots from the side of Mt. Roraima, a mountain in Venezuela’s Canaima National Park that was the setting for Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1912 novel “The Lost World,” about scientists attacked by dinosaurs and ape men in a land cut off from the rest of the world.
(Kuravaina Tours Venezuela)

The 1929 Santa Monica Pier

Looff Hippodrome, the spired building in the center of this 1929 photo, housed the carousel on the first floor and apartments on the second floor.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Huge telescope opens in Canary Islands

The $185-million Gran Telescopio Canarias is operated by the Canary Islands Astrophysics Institute, which says the telescope will capture the birth of stars, study black holes and decipher chemical components of the Big Bang.

"Tragedy in Iran"

Reporting from Beirut -- A Russian-made airliner skidded off the runway and caught fire Friday as it made a hard landing at an airport in eastern Iran, leaving at least 16 people dead and 21 injured, Iranian state television and official news agencies reported.

It was the nation's second deadly plane accident in as many weeks.


The toucan's enlarged bill may not just be for attracting mates or handling food, as biologists have speculated. It also may be able to exchange heat with its environment, enabling the bird to adjust its body temperature as its surroundings change.

With the largest beak relative to body size of all birds, the toucan has long fascinated researchers, including Charles Darwin, who speculated that the beak's size was used to display colors to the opposite sex, giving bigger-billed birds a reproductive edge.

Accounting for 30% to 50% of the body's surface area and about one-third of its length, the colorful bill has many blood vessels and is not insulated. These factors, contend the authors of a new study, make the beak well-suited to regulate body temperature.

In the study, published in Friday's issue of the journal Science, researchers placed four adult and two juvenile toucans at separate times in a chamber, changing the air temperature in increments from 50 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Infrared thermal imaging technology was used to determine surface temperature of the birds' bills.

"Final Performance"

Heath Ledger’s final performance has been presented at the Cannes Film Festival. Terry Gilliam’s “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” stars Ledger as a slick-tongued man who falls in with a mysterious troupe offering a portal to fantasy worlds.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

We can never get enough of "Blazing Saddles"

Lyle: How 'bout some more beans, Mr. Taggart?
Taggart: [fans his hat in the air] I'd say you've had enough!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"One Night Only"

The Santa Monica Pier officially turns 100 years old on Sept. 9, and the run-up to the centenary finds the beachside quarter in the middle of a major revamp, with Santa Monica Place being rebuilt and new pools and restaurants popping up. Just in time to cool off the hottest days of the summer season.

For one night, the big band era and a grand 100-foot-wide wooden dance floor reappear on the Santa Monica pier. The La Monica Ballroom, which hosted revelers for decades, will celebrate its reincarnation from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday as part of the popular Twilight Dance Series. The swingin' Squirrel Nut Zippers are the featured band, so, of course, boas and fedoras are appreciated. Patti Smith closes out the popular free concert series Sept. 3. Photo above was taken in the 1920's. (

Monday, July 20, 2009

"the blinding speed of a legend"

On May 7, 1966, shortly after his release from baseball, The Sporting News carried a blurred, seven-year-old photograph of one Stephen Louis Dalkowski, along with a brief story that was headlined: LIVING LEGEND RELEASED. It began, " Steve Dalkowski, a baseball legend in his own time, apparently has thrown his last professional pitch." The description was not hyperbolic. Despite the fact that he never pitched an inning in the major leagues, few people in organized baseball at that time had not heard of Steve Dalkowski.

The legend began 10 years before, on a hot spring day in Miami, Fla., when Dalkowski was pitching batting practice for the Baltimore Orioles before an exhibition game with the Red Sox. According to several guys who were there, Ted Williams was watching curiously from behind the batting cage. After a few minutes Williams picked up a bat and stepped into the cage. Reporters and players moved quickly closer to see this classic confrontation. Williams took three level, disciplined practice swings, cocked his bat, and motioned with his head for Dalkowski to deliver the ball. Dalkowski went into his spare pump, his right leg rising a few inches off the ground, his left arm pulling back and then flicking out from the side of his body like an attacking cobra. The ball did not rip through the air like most fastballs, but seemed to appear suddenly and silently in the catcher's glove.

The catcher held the ball for a few seconds a few inches under Williams' chin. Williams looked back at it, then at Dalkowski, squinting at him from the mound, and then he dropped his bat and stepped out of the cage. The writers immediately asked Williams how fast Steve Dalkowski really was. Williams, whose eyes were said to be so sharp that he could count the stitches on a baseball as it rotated toward the plate, told them he had not seen the pitch, that Steve Dalkowski was the fastest pitcher he ever faced and that he would be damned if he would ever face him again if he could help it.

Ted Williams was not the only baseball authority awed by Dalkowski's speed. Paul Richards, Harry Brecheen, Earl Weaver and just about anyone who had ever seen him throw claimed he was faster than Johnson or Feller or any of the fabled oldtimers. The Orioles, who owned Dalkowski from 1957 to 1965, once sent him to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, where they used Army equipment to test the speed of his fastball. The machine clocked it at 93.5 mph, about 5 mph slower than Bob Feller's, which was clocked on similar equipment. But Feller had thrown his fastball from a high mound, which added 5 to 8 mph to its speed, and Dalkowski had thrown his from level ground. Also, Dalkowski had pitched a game the day before, which it was estimated knocked off another 5 to 10 mph. Finally, Dalkowski was literally exhausted by the time the machine clocked his pitch because he had thrown for 40 minutes beforehand, just trying to get a fastball within range of the device. All things considered, it was assumed conservatively that Dalkowski, when right, could throw a baseball at well over 105 mph.

His problem at Aberdeen was typical. His wildness was chronic and incurable. In nine years of minor league pitching he walked 1,354 batters in 995 innings. He struck out 1,396. In his last year of high school Dalkowski pitched a no-hitter in which he walked 18 batters and fanned the same number. In 1957 at Kingsport he led the Appalachian League with 129 walks, 39 wild pitches and 121 strikeouts in 62 innings. He once walked 21 batters in a Northern League game and in another he struck out 21 batters to tie a league record. In 1960 Dalkowski set a California League record with 262 walks in 170 innings. He fanned the same number. In 1961 he set a Northwest League record with 196 walks in 103 innings while striking out 150 batters.

Stories of Dalkowski's speed and wildness passed from one minor league town to another. Inevitably, the stories outgrew the man, until it was no longer possible to distinguish fact from fiction. But, no matter how embellished, one fact always remained: Dalkowski struck out more batters and walked more batters per nine-inning game than any professional pitcher in baseball history.

It was because of his blinding speed that the Baltimore Orioles bore with him through eight years of frustration. Each year the Oriole management would try something new to discipline his talent. They made him throw fastballs at a wooden target. They made him throw on the sidelines until he was exhausted, under the assumption that once his lively arm was tired and his speed muted he could throw strikes. They bought him thick, Captain Video-type eyeglasses to correct his faulty 20-80/20-60 vision. They made him pitch batting practice every day for two straight weeks in the hope that facing a batter would help guide his pitches. And finally they made him throw from only 15 feet away from his catcher with the belief that once he threw strikes from that distance the distance could be increased gradually to 60 feet six inches, from where he would also throw strikes.

Nothing doing. After 20 minutes throwing at a wooden target the target was in splinters. No matter how long he threw on the sidelines his arm never got tired. No matter how thick his glasses were all they helped to do was further terrify already terrified batters. In the end all the experiments failed, chiefly because if ever a man was truly possessed by his talent it was Steve Dalkowski.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

"Celebrating Broadway"

"Father of the Blues"

Father of the Blues: W.C. Handy

For this and other Bronze Jazz Sculptures, click on the link below:

Beauty amid turmoil

Just past the town of Khaplu, Pakistan, the sky opens up on the road to the mountains. “Foreigners think Pakistan is nothing but Taliban and suicide bombs,” said Sharafat Hussain, who sells climbing equipment in the town of Skardu. “We’re a world away from those problems.”
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

"Singer's statue is rededicated"

A Baltimore statue of Billie Holiday now bears images evoking the anti-racism message of a song recorded by the jazz icon in the 1930s, just as the sculptor intended.

Two panels at the statue's base -- one of a lynched man and another of a newborn baby -- were part of the design, but weren't included when the piece was erected in 1985 in a West Baltimore neighborhood.

At a rededication ceremony Friday on the 50th anniversary of Holiday's death, Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon said people should view the statue and the panels as a depiction of "raw" history.

Holiday, who lived in Baltimore as a child, recorded "Strange Fruit," a jazz ballad condemning the lynchings of blacks. It was considered one of the first anti-racism songs in American popular music.

-- associated press

"uncertain future"

The Watts Towers may be a unique and symbolically rich work of folk art, but it is also a world-class money trap, vulnerable to earthquakes and the elements, and constantly in need of repair.

There's been long-simmering discontent among some of the most intense admirers of Simon Rodia's 100-foot-tall structure who say the city doesn't spend nearly enough on its upkeep and criticize the quality of conservation work carried out by L.A.'s Department of Cultural Affairs.

"making audiences laugh at their own prejudices"

Over the last 15 years, Omid Djalili, a British-born Iranian comedian and actor, who wryly refers to himself as "a Middle Eastern person," has become gradually famous by breaking down cultural differences and ethnic barriers.

His appealing stand-up routines hinge on making audiences laugh at their own prejudices, exploring British attitudes to "otherness" and observing that what various ethnic and religious groups have in common is as important as what divides them. Djalili, shown above, is taking a leap to play Fagin in the musical "Oliver!"

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cascade Creek Falls, Lodgepole, Crystal Cave, Sequoia National Park

What's not to love about the high Sierras or Leon Turnbull's photography ???

"a piercing image"

Massachusetts photographers have unearthed the only known image of legendary brain-injury patient Phineas Gage, a daguerreotype showing the former railroad worker sitting in repose and holding the nearly 4-foot-long iron rod that pierced his brain without killing him.

Contemporary accounts suggest that Gage's personality was dramatically altered because he was disfigured in the accident, but the new image, to be published online next week in the Journal of the History of the Neurosciences, shows a relatively handsome man -- confirming the belief of most experts that damage to his brain accounted for the changed personality.

Gage was the 25-year-old foreman of a construction gang on Sept. 13, 1848, preparing a railroad bed outside Cavendish, Vt. As usual, he was using a pointed iron rod -- 3 feet, 7 inches long and 13 1/4 pounds -- to tamp gunpowder and sand into a hole drilled in the rock. But on that day, the mixture exploded, sending the rod through his left cheek and out through the top of his head.

It was successfully removed and, to the surprise of physicians, Gage lived 11 more years, dying after a series of increasingly violent convulsions. His story is a showpiece in neurology texts and folklore because of his survival and the abrupt changes in his personality.

The daguerreotype has been in the possession of Jack and Beverly Wilgus for 30 years, although they do not know its origin. They thought it was an image of a whaler holding his harpoon, but whaling experts viewing it online told them it was not. Then an anonymous tipster suggested it was Gage.

Intrigued, the Wilguses compared their image to that of a life mask at Harvard Medical School's Warren Anatomical Museum and found it could be superimposed perfectly, with scars lining up correctly. Apparent writing on the metal rod in the image matches writing on Gage's iron rod, which is also in the Warren Museum. The images can be viewed at phineasgage.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Impressions of the Berlin Wall"

Stop a random handful of Berliners on the street and ask where you might still find a stretch of the Berlin Wall in this, the 20th year since communism collapsed here. A surprising number will not have a clue.

Although much of the wall was razed soon after Nov. 9, 1989, sections that weren't given to museums, sold as souvenirs or ground into underlay for autobahns can be seen -- if you know where to go.

The longest stretch, just under a mile, is at the East Side Gallery, set up by Iranian artist Kani Alavi in the winter of 1989-90. Alavi persuaded more than 100 artists from 21 countries to paint their impressions on the eastern side. Two decades of pollution and weather have taken their toll, prompting Alavi to bring most of the artists back. Between now and October, you can watch them at work along Mühlenstrasse.

"Ashes to ashes, dust to deep."

With a spray of water, Guy Gleichmann surfaces from a 40-foot dive during which he helped set his mother's remains in their final resting place: a sunken city where brightly hued fish shimmy among fantastical architecture.

"I didn't want to leave," Gleichmann says, doffing mask and mouthpiece. "It's so beautiful down there. It's so serene." The 48-year-old investment manager and diver from Pompano Beach, Fla., wanted a unique and accessible spot for his mother, Emma, who died in December at age 75. So he had her cremated remains mixed into concrete in the shape of a seashell, which was placed near the statue of a lion.

Ashes to ashes, dust to deep.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

"Myth Makers"

On Aug. 16, 1977, the day Elvis Presley died, folklorist William R. Ferris remembers that in Memphis "it was like the ground began to shake." Within hours, hundreds of pilgrims had descended on Graceland, and the process by which a beloved public personage is transformed into a mythic figure was underway.

But which Elvis would be mythologized, and whose legacy would be preserved? The youthful rock rebel or the Las Vegas glitter god? The sultry crooner who gyrated his way into a nation's (and eventually the world's) consciousness, or the sadly diminished man who rasped his way through his final hit single?

The struggle over who gets to control a pop cultural or historical figure's legacy and shape his or her predominant image is a shifting, elaborate progression involving the family and friends of the deceased, public relations managers, fans, journalists and, today, legions of bloggers. Over time, it also may be influenced by museum directors, filmmakers, scholars, biographers, publishers, copyright lawyers and politicians.

“Each generation can continue to reinvent” larger-than-life figures such as Michael Jackson, left, and Elvis Presley, says one scholar.

Monday, July 06, 2009

"Master of Triggernometry"

It is not easy to whip out a pistol and split a playing card edgewise at 30 paces. Joe Bowman did it routinely, and he had a few more tricks up his elaborately embroidered western sleeve.

“I remember him throwing a washer up in the air, firing a pistol, and saying, ‘I shot right through it,’ ” said Dan Pastorini, a former quarterback for the Houston Oilers and a longtime friend of Mr. Bowman. “I laughed and said, ‘Sure, Joe.’ So he wrapped a piece of tape over the hole in the washer, threw it in the air and fired again. The tape was gone.”

Joe Bowman, known as the Straight Shooter and the Master of Triggernometry, died June 29 in Junction, Tex., where he had stopped for the night after putting on a fast-draw and sharpshooting exhibition for the Single Action Shooting Society’s annual convention near Albuquerque. He was 84 and lived in Houston.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

"The Ancient Mariner"

She has weak knees, her front and rear ends sag, and Quentin Snediker worries about what else he may find when he digs deeper into her stout frame.

Snediker is director of the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut. The weak-kneed "she," the Charles W. Morgan, is the world's last surviving wooden whaling ship, among Connecticut's most popular tourist attractions.

Launched in 1841 in New Bedford, Mass., the Morgan sailed until 1921. It made 37 voyages, the longest almost five years. In 1941, the ship arrived at Mystic Seaport, where it spent much of its life embedded in a berth of sand.

Since being refloated in 1973, the Morgan has been maintained and refurbished faithfully. After being hauled out of the water in November, it is now in dry dock undergoing a three-year, $5-million restoration, the most extensive yet. Snediker and eight professional shipwrights have been charged with rebuilding and replacing many of the ship's frames and interior planking.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Polliwog Park: Part of the "magic" of the South Bay

Located at the corner of Redondo Avenue and Manhattan Beach Boulevard, Polliwog Park was developed in 1964 and expanded in 1975. Encompassing 18 acres, this is the largest and perhaps loveliest park in the South Bay area. The property belongs to the Manhattan Beach Unified School District and is leased to the City. The focal point of the site is a large pond bordered on one side by a natural wildlife refuge, home to migratory birds and an occasional raccoon or opossum. A favorite site for concerts, performances, weddings and other special events, the park's amphitheater looks out over the majestic pond as ducks and geese swim by providing one of the most idyllic and scenic backdrops for any occasion.

Three gazebos, one situated adjacent to the park's Rose Garden, another positioned near the amphitheater and the third adjacent to the pond, are also favorite spots for birthday parties, anniversaries and family reunions. These can be reserved in advance for two-hour periods. A short distance from the Rose Garden is one of the City's oldest beach cottages which was moved to the site and refurbished. It houses the City's Historical Museum and is open to the public offering guided tours by appointment.

Play areas include a large light house inspired play apparatus with several slides including a spiral tube slide, misters, a small sand area and three separate areas for younger children filled with colorful and imaginative climbing and exploration equipment. Premier Little League Field is located adjacent to the park. The picnic area is comprised of a number of tables and six barbecues which can accommodate large groups.

Also adjacent to the park is Begg Pool which is open during the summer for classes and recreational swimming.

On the southwest corner of the park is the Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden. Run by volunteers, the garden is now open to the public on a regular basis. Individuals wishing to help with the garden or who want to schedule a docent-lead viewing of the garden may call Julie Gonella, (310) 546-1354 for more information.

The park contains an exercise course, restroom facilities and drinking fountains. Numerous park benches, grassy mounds and shady areas make this an ideal spot for all types of recreational activities including just relaxing or enjoying a conversation with friends.
A 9-hole disc golf course is now located in Polliwog Park. The course, which is now open to the public, runs throughout the park avoiding walkways and play areas. Players are asked not to throw in areas where people have congregated. The course will be closed during special events such as Concerts in the Park and Earth Day.

Disc golf is a recreational sport for anyone, regardless of age, gender or ability. The object of the game is to traverse a course from beginning to end in the fewest number of throws of the frisbee. Each consecutive throw is made from where the frisbee came to rest after the last throw. Score is determined by counting the number of throws made on each hole plus penalty throws and then summing all holes. The winner is the player who completes the course with the lowest score.

Curbside parking is available along Redondo Avenue and Manhattan Beach Boulevard.

Dogs are permitted along designated pathways parallel with Begg Pool and soccer field.

"Bigfoot: Why do we believe in you?"

Bigfoot is an American tall-tale. Up there with the Loch Ness monster and other such mystic creatures we can never seem to find, he eludes us and yet we always choose to believe in him, just a little bit. Bigfoot embodies American ideals: Western ruggedness, the great outdoors, old-fashioned masculinity and perhaps a strange backwoods idea of what it is like to be larger than life.

In the case of author Joshua Blu Buhs, he tells us right away that Bigfoot is nothing but a myth - a figment of our wonderful imagining. And yet, Buhs wrote "Bigfoot: The Life and Times of a Legend" to explain the complicated origins of the beast.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Greta Garbo and John Gilbert in "Flesh and the Devil" -- one of the best films of 1926

Sears Tower Skydeck Adds Glass Ledges For In-Thin-Air Sensation at 1,353 Feet

The heart pounding excitement of a fast elevator ride and 103rd floor views from the Sears Tower Skydeck in Chicago are no secret. The story has, however, just gotten more thrilling. Now visitors can test their curiosity and courage from a new angle: step into one of four glass enclosures for the gasp-inducing, straight-to-the-sidewalk view between their shoes.

The show stopper of the Skydeck's multi-million dollar renovation is the addition of four glass enclosures that project 4.3 feet into space. At 103 floors above street level. Three layers of half-inch glass are fused, designed to hold five tons, are described as "glass ledges." That should be no problem since four or five persons will venture into one of the transparent booths at any given time. There'll be as much looking down as gazing out on the four-state vista.

"The Touch of Life"

Suspended over the fast-flowing Des Moines river, Jason Oglesbee was lowered towards the unnamed 60year-old, who was floundering after her boat capsized. He managed to grab her hand and drag her from the water, carrying her to a rescue boat.

Rescuers also pulled a man aged around 60, who had been in the same boat as the woman, from the river in Iowa but he had drowned.

"a self-portrait of Michelangelo"

The Vatican announced this week that restorations of frescoes by Michelangelo show that the artist incorporated what is believed to be a portrait of himself in one of the murals. The discovery was made in the Vatican's Pauline Chapel, which is used by the Pope and isn't open to tourists.

A figure riding horseback in a blue turban in the upper left corner of Michelangelo's "The Crucifixion of St. Peter" is a self-portrait, according to the Vatican. The mural was created between 1542 and 1549, when the artist was in his 70s. The chief restorer, Maurizio De Luca, said that the self-portrait resembles portraits of the artist made by Giuliano Bugiardini and Daniele da Volterra.

The restorations began in 2004 and cost an estimated 3.2 million euros, or $4.5 million. The Pauline Chapel contains two important murals -- "The Crucifixion of St. Peter" and "The Conversion of St. Paul."