Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 -- December 31, 2013


This year I decided to increase the number of posts about early movies. In order to make more room for them, I started doing more than one post per day on many days.  I aimed for an average of 40 posts a month.  In August, I raised the average to 44 a month so I could reach 500 by the end of the year.  In early December, I made my 2000th post on this blog.  This is my 500th post of 2013 and my 2040th overall.

The Giants had to rally to finish in third place.  Tim Lincecum threw a no-hitter and Yusmeiro Petit almost threw a perfect game.  Barry Zito finished his career with the Giants.  Hunter Pence won the 2013 Willie McCovey Award.  The Giants resigned Pence and Lincecum. 

The rebellion in Syria drags on.  The people suffer, especially the children.  At least the Syrian government has given up its chemical weapons. 

 In January, we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.  Stan Musial, Harry Carey, Jr and Huell Howser died.  I started new monthly series with photos of movie stars Clara Bow, Bessie Love and Tom Mix.  I started another series of Sherlock Holmes movie ads.  Barry Bonds did not get elected to the Hall of Fame.  Inauguration day fell on King Day, so I was able to watch the ceremony.

In February, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would retire at the end of the month.  The San Francisco 49ers came close, but did not win the Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens.   I started a new series of photos of posters called The City on Film.  Grand Central Terminal celebrated its 100th birthday. 

In March, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires became Pope Francis.  That is an excellent name.  I attended the third annual San Francisco History Expo at the Old Mint.  I won a prize in the raffle.  We celebrated John Garfield's 100th birthday.  I wrote about Robert K Massie's Castles of Steel, the sequel to his excellent history Dreadnaught.  Patty Andrews and Donald Byrd died.  I started a new monthly series of movie theater photos.  I enjoyed watching the 2013 World Baseball Classic, which was won by the Dominican Republic.We implemented a huge project at work. 

In April our little cat Mittens died.  I miss her.

Also in April, two terrorists left bombs at the Boston Marathon.  A fertilizer plant in Texas blew up and killed many people. 

We took our first drive through the new Devil's Slide Bypass Tunnel. 

I started a new monthly series of photos of historical markers.  My San Francisco history tour was an item in two auctions.

In April and May I did a series of posts on different movie versions of The Great Gatsby, leading up to the release of the latest version.

In May I participated in a blogathon for Peter Cushing's 100th birthday.  I made four contributions, based on the concept of Degrees of Separation.

In June the Save the Redwoods League put up the money to repair the collapsed tunnel on the California Western Railroad, which allowed the Skunk Train to resume full service and rescued the Mendocino County economy, which had been suffering.

In June, the Supreme Court issued several important opinions.  They gutted the Voting Rights Act, striking down the rules which said what states/counties had to comply.   Several southern states immediately moved to limit voting rights of minorities.  The Supreme Court also ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional and that the challenge to the overturning of California Proposition 8 had no standing.  Same-sex marriages resumed as soon as the appeals court lifted the stay.

In July, BART workers went on strike.  BART management was unwilling to negotiate.  The workers went back for 30 days, and BART's chief negotiator went on vacation.  Obviously BART was trying to break the union and not negotiating seriously.

Also in July, a Korean 777 crashed at SFO.  Two passengers died right away and one after some time in the hospital. Our Disneyland vacation got interrupted by illness back home.  It turned out to be less serious than it could have been, but I'm glad we went home. 

In August, I did some research posts on  Harry Langdon's last silent feature, Heart Trouble.  Elon Musk announced his idea for the Hyperloop.  The Wells Fargo History Museum in San Francisco closed for refurbishment.

In August and September, a huge fire burned around Yosemite.  It took weeks just to contain it.

In September, I took part in a blogathon celebrating the Gish Sisters' 101st anniversary in movies.  I posted three articles, using lots of magazine and newspaper items.  During the America's Cup races, I posted some newspaper articles about earlier contests.

In October nihilists in the Tea Party shut down the government of the United States and threatened to force the country to default on its debt.  President Obama stood firm and remembered the words of Ronald Reagan: "We do not negotiate with terrorists."  The Affordable Care Act rolled out despite Republican efforts to torpedo it.  There were problems with the national website, but there was a huge demand from people who wanted to enroll.  BART workers went on strike again because management refused to negotiate seriously.  The death of two workers killed by a train operated by a trainee sobered them up.

In November, my home desktop died.  That was inconvenient.   The BART board announced that they had not read the contract that they had signed, and they repudiated a clause pertaining to family leave.  This is a fine example of arrogance and incompetence. 

In November, the Obama administration negotiated a deal with Iran to stop their nuclear program for six months while a final deal was worked out.  The Republicans called him Chamberlin and Hitler.  Some Republicans said he did it just to distract from Obamacare.  John Bolton, chickenhawk and former UN ambassador, said we should bomb Iran anyway. 

I participated in a blogathon dedicated to Lon Chaney and his son, Creighton, who later became known as Lon Chaney, Jr. 

At the end of November, we adopted a new kitten. 

In December, Nelson Mandela died.  The excavation for the Central Subway passed under Market Street.  The 49ers played the last regular season game at Candlestick Park.  Peter O'Toole and Joan Fontaine died.  The government of the UK pardoned Alan Turing.  We had a harsh cold snap and no rain.  The Boy Scouts of America will allow young men who are gay to join, but will still ban gay leaders.  It's a start, I guess. 

I see I didn't write anything about the growing conflict between people who have lived in neighborhoods like the Mission for a while and Silicon Valley tech workers who have been moving in.  Google and other companies send private buses to bring them to work.  These have been regarded as a symbol of working people being pushed out of San Francisco.  There have been protests and attempts to block the buses. 

After thinking about it for more than one year, I have decided to launch a new movies-mostly blog, The Big V Riot Squad, which will premiere on 01-January-2014.  Most of the movie items I do on this blog will move there. 

The image shows actresses Thelma White, who appeared in many movies including Reefer Madness and Dorothy Lee, who appeared in most of the movies of Wheeler and Woolsey. It comes from the wonderful site LucyWho (http://www.lucywho.com/).

Monday, December 30, 2013

Beat It -- December 30, 2013

1914 tells 1913 to beat it.  From the 31-December-1913 San Francisco Call and Post

Tournament of Roses -- December 30, 2013

A Santa Fe Railroad ad from the 30-December-1913 San Francisco Call and Post advertises the Tournament of Roses Parade, which has been held in Pasadena since 1890.  This year Stanford will play Michigan in what is being advertised as the 100th Rose Bowl Game.  The first game was held in 1902, and the next one in 1916.  It has been held every year since.  The football game replaced the Roman Chariot Race. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Alan Turing Pardoned -- December 29, 2013

Mathematician and logician Alan Turing came up with many of the basic concepts of computer science and artificial intelligence.  His work as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park helped the right side win in World War II. He helped to develop devices that automated important steps of cracking the German Enigma cyphers.  These devices had many of the features of computers.  After the war, he collaborated on the design of an early electronic stored program computer.  He devised the Turing test, as a way to prove that an entity was intelligent.  During the 1950s, he fell afoul of laws against homosexuality and committed suicide after being treated shamefully.   The government of the UK has finally seen fit to pardon him.  About time. 

52 Decorated -- December 29, 2013

Here is a photo I took on Christmas Eve of California Street cable car 52, built by the San Francisco Municipal Railway in 1996, decorated for Christmas, 2013  at California and Davis Streets.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tracy in 90-Horsepower Locomobile -- December 28, 2013

Irish-born Joe Tracy drove the Locomobile racer to third place in the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup race.  He retired from racing soon after.  From the 20-September-1906 Motor Way

Friday, December 27, 2013

Overdue Ship Hyderabad -- December 27, 2013

From the 11-June-1899 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper. Click on the image for a larger view.  Hyderabad reached San Francisco on the afternoon of the 11th after a troubled passage.  More about that next month.   

The British ship Hyderabad is now out 106 days from Newcastle, Australia. She sailed on February 24 with a cargo of Cooperative coal for San Franciso and has not been heard from since. Soon after she salled a terrific storm devastated the coast of Queensland, and the Hyderabad may have been caught in it and disabled.  She is a slow boat, and as it is a long time since she was docked and the prevailing winds have been light, the chances are her delay is due to these circumstances.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

New Cat #2 -- December 26, 2013


Happy Boxing Day. 

I took the photo on Christmas Day. 

After she treated the tree as a climbing structure, I looked in Google for some ideas.  People suggested spraying the tree with diluted lemon extract.  Sunday it seemed to work pretty well, but we had to keep spraying it and she still climbs in and knocks off the ornaments. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas #7 -- December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas, everyone. Peace on Earth and goodwill to men (women, and children).

Santa wishes San Francisco a Merry Christmas from the 25-December-1913 San Francisco Call and Post.

Yesterday we went to 5 o'clock mass at Good Shepherd.  They added a white candle in the middle of the Advent wreath and called it the Christ candle.  I was lucky because four of the regulars, including me, showed up to take the collection.  We were Eucharistic ministers, too. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve #3 -- December 24, 2013

Actress Grace Bradley trims her Christmas tree.  Grace Bradley was the wife of Hopalong Cassidey, William Boyd.  

The image is from the wonderful site LucyWho: http://www.lucywho.com/

Monday, December 23, 2013

Candlestick Park -- December 23, 2013

The San Franisco 49ers played the last regular season game at Candlestick Park.  They beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-24.  The last 49ers game I attended was played at Kezar Stadium before the 49ers moved to Candlestick in 1971.  I went to many Giants games at Candlestick and have fond memories of watching Willie Mays, Bobby Bonds, Jack Clark, Will Clark, Bobby Thompson, Barry Bonds and many others. 

My wife and I often talk about a 14-inning game against the Astros.  We gave up in the 13th when we couldn't feel our feet anymore.  The Giants won in 14.  I got rid of my thermal longjohns a few years after the Giants moved to their current ballpark. 

I used to go to day games while I was in college.  I sat in a certain section so I could run up the aisle and get right on a 28-Ballpark Express home. 

I remember the three flags in the outfield blowing in three different directions. 

I don't think I'll feel bad when the park gets torn down. 

Christmas Number #2 -- December 23, 2013

The original Life Magazine was a humorous weekly that was published from 1883 to 1936.  Here is the cover of their 1887 Christmas Number.  "Revels at the Court of King Christmas."  Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version. 

The image comes from MagazineArt.org (http://www.magazineart.org).  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Clara Bow #11 -- December 22, 2013

Red haired Clara Bow was probably the most popular silent actress after Mary Pickford. Clara and her faithful dog wait for Santa Claus. 

In January, this series will move to my new movies-mostly blog, The Big V Riot Squad, which will premiere on 01-January-2014. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Tree is Up #4 -- December 21, 2013

Because of the new kitten, we waited until today to put up the Christmas tree.  We used only unbreakable ornaments.  She has climbed into it twice.  We'll skip the train this year. 

William Leidesdorff -- December 21, 2013

A plaque honoring San Francisco pioneer William Leidesdorff is, fittingly, displayed on Leidesdorff Street.  He settled in Yerba Buena in 1841 and became an important land owner  and civic promoter.  He was of mixed race, but it didn't slow his career in early San Francisco.  He died in 1848.  I took the photo on 12-August-2013. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental -- December 20, 2013

We visited the Blackhawk Museum in June to drool over their collection of classic autos.  This 1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental has a body by the Paris firm of Kellner et Cie.  (051)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sherlock Holmes, or Held for Ransom -- December 19, 2013

The Vitagraph Company of America released "Sherlock Holmes, or Held for Ransom" in 1905, along with a great selection of "picture hits, 12 cents per foot."    From the New York Clipper, 16-October-1905. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Alfred Bester 100 -- December 18, 2013

I'm not a science fiction fan, but a professor at San Francisco State was enthusiastic about The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester.   I enjoyed it a lot.  Alfred Bester was born 100 years ago on 18-December-1913.  The book was serialized in Galaxy Magazine

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Comic Book #30 -- December 17, 2013

Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy Dog greet Santa Claus on the cover of issue 4 of the German Micky Maus Magazin

Monday, December 16, 2013

Grauman's Chinese #33 -- December 16, 2013

In July, 2012 we paid a return visit to Hollywood and Grauman's Chinese Theater.  Sid Grauman was a San Francisco showman who came to Los Angeles and built three major houses, the Million Dollar, the Egyptian, and the Chinese. The theater has hosted many film premieres, but is most famous for the hand and footprints (and hoofprints and nose prints and other types of prints) in the forecourt.

Actor Kirk Douglas left his hand and footprints in the forecourt on 01-November-1962.  He is a passionate actor whose work I have always admired.  (31)

Peter O'Toole and Joan Fontaine RIP -- December 16, 2013

I was sad to learn of the deaths of Peter O'Toole and Joan Fontaine. 

It is a wonder that Peter O'Toole lived as long as he did, because he had been a hard drinker.  I loved almost everything I saw or heard him in, from Lawrence of Arabia to Ratatouille.

One summer I took a Joseph Conrad summer class from a favorite professor who wanted to do something out of his usual area, which was Old and Middle English.  No one else knew how to work a 16mm projector, so I ran Lord Jim, with an anamorphic lens, which I had never before touched. 

I still hear people quote lines from My Favorite Year.  "Ladies are unwell. Gentlemen vomit."

He played Sherlock Holmes in a series of animated adaptions. 

The image shows him with Audrey Hepburn on the set of How to Steal a Million, which was released in 1965.

Joan Fontaine and her sister, Olivia De Havilland were Hollywood stars and cousins of aircraft designer Sir Geoffrey de Havilland.  Joan Fontaine appeared in Hitchcock's Rebecca, his first movie in America, and Suspicion.  

I hope that Miss Fontaine and her sister spoke to each other before it was too late. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Embarcadero Center Christmas -- December 15, 2013

Friday our long-time admin retired.  One manager had a surprise potluck lunch for her.  We did cake at 1pm.  It was a caramel cake.  Very good.  At four, we went to the Elephant and Castle and had drinks, joined by her two sons.  We'll miss her.

On my way home, I paused to take a photo of the Embarcadero Center lit for Christmas. 

Audrey Totter RIP -- December 15, 2013

Audrey Totter, famous for her appearances in film noir, has died.  She was in The Lady in the Lake, which was filmed using an unusual first-person method, from the point of view of detective Philip Marlowe. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Pulp #50 -- December 14, 2013

The 24-December-1927 issue of Detective Story Magazine features Santa Claus on the cover. 

The image is from Phil Stephensen-Payne's wonderful Galactic Central (http://www.philsp.com/). 

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Boy is There and He's a Winner -- December 13, 2013

After he left Mack Sennett, Harry Langdon's first feature on a lucrative First National contract was Tramp Tramp Tramp, the story of cross-country walking race.

This ad is from the 16-March-1926 Film Daily. It is the last of a series of cross-country ads that paralleled the race.  Here Harry arrives at the finish in Los Angeles. 

That was the last of this series of ads for Tramp Tramp Tramp, but the slapstick series will continue on my new movies-mostly blog, The Big V Riot Squad, which will premiere on 01-January-2014. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Shanty Hogan -- December 12, 2013

Inspired by the book Few and Chosen: Defining Giants Greatness Across the Eras by Giants great Bobby Thomson and Phil Pepe, I thought I would devote my nickname meme to Giants players for the next several months. 

Catcher Frank (James Francis) Hogan was a big man who kept getting bigger because of his eating habits.  He was called Shanty because he was built like a house of some sort.  He played for the New York Giants during the last part of John McGraw's tenure as Giants manager, and they had many conflicts over Hogan's weight.  Hogan played for other teams in both leagues. 

Bobby Thomson listed him as one of the Giants great catchers, along with Roger Bresnahan, Chief Meyers and Wes Westrum.  The book was written before Buster Posey came up. 

Book: Few and Chosen: Defining Giants Greatness Across the Eras -- December 12, 2013




We were visiting Half Moon Bay last month and chanced to stop at Bay Books, a wonderful store.  The owner saw my Giants cap and led me over to the sports shelf.  He mentioned that his uncle had been an executive with the San Francisco Seals. 

He strongly recommended the book Few and Chosen: Defining Giants Greatness Across the Eras by Giants great Bobby Thomson and Phil Pepe.  I took his advice and bought it.  I enjoyed it greatly. 

As Bill James has pointed out, many old ball players like to say the game has gone downhill since they played.  Bobby Thomson was not that way.  He includes players up to the era of Matt Williams, Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds. 

Thomson told many stories about the men he played with, and the men he met during later years. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Quite Unique and Quite Different -- December 11, 2013

This item is from the 19-September-1914 edition of Moving Picture World.  It announces that the Oz Film Company of Los Angeles signed with Paramount to distribute its productions.  "in five parts" means The Patchwork Girl of Oz was a five reel feature.  Frank J Baum was the son of L Frank Baum, author of the Oz books. 

In January, this series will move to my new movies-mostly blog, The Big V Riot Squad, which will premiere on 01-January-2014. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Decorated Cable Car -- December 10, 2013


We were out playing tourist in December, 2012 when I took this photo of car 28 at the outer terminal of the Powell/Mason line at Bay and Taylor.  Its decorations were sponsored by Hyatt. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Ferry Mare Island -- December 9, 2013

SF Bay Ferry's high speed catamaran Mare Island, along with sister boat Intintoli, provide most of the service between San Francisco and Vallejo.  I took this photo at the Ferry Building in May, 2013. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Cold -- December 8, 2013

It has been very cold.  It was 42F when I left my mother's house in the city.  It was 38F, I think, when I got home in Pacifica.  Someone was parked in my parking space, so I had to park in the street and hike back across the lawn, passing a deer on the way. 

The photo of Charlie Chaplin in The Gold Rush is from the wonderful site LucyWho (http://www.lucywho.com/), 

Look How Our Fares to California Have Dropped -- December 8, 2013

In this ad from Hollywood, April, 1936, the Southern Pacific offers trips from Chicago to California for $18 less than the 1930 fare.  This shows the effects of the Great Depression. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Embarcadero Center Cinema - December 7, 2013

The multi-screen Embarcadero Center Cinema opened in 1995.  It recently got remodeled and now features all-reserved seating.  There is no live box office.  Patrons order tickets online or use machines in the lobby.  From the Landmark Theaters website: "The concession stand features organic iced teas, Fair Trade chocolate bars, and freshly popped kettle corn, as well as several hot food offerings like steak & cilantro empanadas and veggie egg rolls." 

In January, this series will move to my new movies-mostly blog, The Big V Riot Squad, which will premiere on 01-January-2014. 

Pearl Harbor Day #4 -- December 7, 2013

72 years ago a sneak attack by forces of the Japanese Empire sank much of the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in the territory of Hawaii. The Japanese Empire came to regret doing this.

Heavy cruiser USS San Francisco, CA-38, was fortunate to survive the attack, as she waited to have her bottom scraped and new anti-aircraft guns installed. By December 16, she was ready to sail with a task force which attempted to relieve Wake Island. In October, 1942, under the command of Admiral Daniel J Callaghan, she was the flagship at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. Callaghan knew that his task force was vastly outnumbered and outgunned, but he did his duty. He died on the bridge and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

In March, 2011, I was honored to meet three men who served at Pearl Harbor and Guadalcanal with Callaghan on the San Francisco.

San Francisco survived the battle and was repaired at Mare Island. She served throughout the war. Her shell-torn bridge is preserved as a monument at Land's End in San Francisco.  I took the photo on 07-January-2012. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Tom Mix #12 -- December 6, 2013

Tom Mix was the biggest cowboy star in silent movies.  He and his horse Tony had many adventures in Fox films.  This ad is from the 06-April-1926 Film Daily

In January, this series will move to my new movies-mostly blog, The Big V Riot Squad, which will premiere on 01-January-2014. 


Nelson Mandela, RIP -- December 6, 2013

We left work early today to have a team-building bowling party at Yerba Buena Gardens and then a retirement dinner for one of our people at Buca de Beppo.  While we waited for the food, one of the people looked at her phone and said "Nelson Mandela died."  Several people commented on what a fighter he was.  When I got in the car on the way home, NPR was running a special on his life. 

I remember him being in prison much of the time I was growing up.  I didn't see how apartheid could end without bloodshed.  But then I couldn't see how the Soviet Union could fall without a war.  Mandela could have called for a revolution when he got out of prison, but he was willing to talk and negotiate. 

The world has lost a good human being in President Mandela. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Bessie Love #12 -- December 4, 2013

I have always been fascinated by the career of actress Bessie Love.  She was born in Texas.  Her name was Juanita Horton.  Her family moved to Los Angeles and she went to Los Angeles High School.  Looking for work, she met director  DW Griffith and got a small part in Intolerance.  She appeared in movies with William S Hart and Douglas Fairbanks.  She was a 1922 WAMPAS (Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers) Baby Star.  She played many leading roles, most famously in The Lost World, but never broke through until the talkies came, when she starred in The Broadway Melody.  Her career was hot for a few years, but then tailed off.  She continued to appear in small parts in movies until the early 1980s.

This image is from the September, 1920 Photoplay.  It illustrates her athletic tendencies and mentions that she had formed her own production company. 

In January, this series will move to my new movies-mostly blog, The Big V Riot Squad, which will premiere on 01-January-2014. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Firehouse #74 -- December 3, 2013

San Bruno Fire Department Station 52 is on Earl Avenue near the top of Sneath Lane. I took the photo on 02-December-2013. The station is decorated with Christmas lights, but it is hard to tell in this cell phone photo. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Seabiscuit Pursues a Giant Reindeer #3 -- December 2, 2013

I took a day off today.  I took the new cat to see the vet and get her second feline distemper shot.  Everyone in the office had to come in and fuss over her. 

After I brought her home and sat with her for a bit, I went Christmas shopping.  I drove to Tanforan, where I took this photo.  I bought some kitten food and some gifts.  I went on to Hillsdale, had lunch at Panda Express, and did more shopping.  Then I drove over the hill to Half Moon Bay and did some more shopping at the pet goods store and Bay Books. 

The Dippy Mad Magician -- December 2, 2013

Frank Van Hoven started out as a juggler, but wasn't very good at it.  He became a magician, but he wasn't very good at that, either.  He became a funny magician and was very good at that.  He combined simple magic tricks with comic bits like having volunteers hold heavy blocks of ice while he tried to make things appear within them. 

This ad appeared in the 25-June-1915 Variety.  Someone must have tried to steal his act.  The White Rats were a union for vaudeville performers. 

"According to newspaper notices, I have scored one of the largest individual hits ever registered in England, not even barring the Zeppelins."  Very tasteful. 

This is the 2000th post in my blog. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Goodyear Blimp -- Decmber 1, 2013


The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company of Akron, Ohio has produced airships, mostly blimps but some Zeppelins, rigid airships. since 1911.  Here is a typical military blimp.  Goodyear has operated its own blimps for publicity since 1925.  There are three in the current fleet.  Goodyear is planning to switch to Zeppelin LTs next year. 

The image is from the 1922 Aircraft Yearbook.

Mary Martin 100 -- December 1, 2013

I was really confused when I was a kid and we'd see Mary Martin playing Peter Pan on television.  I could tell she was a girl.  Today is her 100th birthday.