Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni, RIP - July 31, 2007

I was sad to see that both Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni had died on the same day. Back in the 1970's, when I went to a lot of foreign films and revivals at the Lumiere, the Bridge, the Surf, the Golden Gateway, the Parkside, and many other houses in and around San Francisco, I didn't see many films by either man. Perhaps I had bad timing, or perhaps the programmers didn't like Italian movies. Perhaps Bergman was considered old fashioned.
Thinking about the Bergman movies that I have seen, Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal, Autumn Sonata, Fanny and Alexander, and others, I can't say that I have always enjoyed them, in the sense that they gave me pleasure, but I have always learned things about people and cinema. The happiest moment I can remember was in The Magic Flute, with the throwaway shot of the dragon walking down the hall backstage.
The only Antonioni movie I can remember seeing is Blow Up. I have to look for some DVDs and continue my education.
Writing about Bergman, several people have mentioned that he was one of the last directors who grew up watching silent movies. The same must have been true of Antonioni.
I thought a black and white photo of Bergman was appropriate.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Book: The Soul of Baseball - July 28, 2007

I finished reading Joe Posnanski's book The Soul of Baseball/A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America. The book is an account of a year that that he spent on the road with Buck O'Neil, who for many years worked hard to keep alive the memory of the Negro Leagues, where he played and managed the great Kansas City Monarchs.
Buck O'Neil had many of the attributes of a saint or a great soul. He always preached love. His favorite question to ask people was "What was your best day in baseball?" He was happiest when people remembered playing with their fathers.
The book covers a period, the last year of O'Neil's life, when he was working to get more Negro Leaguers into the Baseball Hall of Fame. A special committee selected 17 people, executives and players, but not O'Neil himself. I can't imagine their reasons for excluding him.
The book is short, but offers nice insights into a truly good man. Along with some good Satchel Paige stories.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Horse-Power Locomotive #2 - July 24, 2007

Another view of the pioneering Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's horse-powered locomotive, in which the horse walked on a treadmill, which drove the wheels through gearing.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Book: Walt Disney/The Triumph of the American Imagination - July 22, 2007

I just finished reading Neal Gabler's Walt Disney/The Triumph of the American Imagination. This book takes the view that Walt Disney's work, from the animated cartoons through Disneyland, to Epcot, all stemmed from a desire to create a controlled and ordered world through his imagination.

Gabler talks about Disney's early life, and explores some of the embellishments that Walt added over the years. Gabler gives a good account of Walt's entry into animation and the ways in which Disney changed animation from a haphazard business to an art. More than other biographers, Gabler then examines the way in which Walt became disillusioned with animation after the strike and the war.

I enjoyed the way Gabler talked about Walt's obsession with his garden railroad, and then with Disneyland. I did notice a factual error about the source of the first two Disneyland locomotives, but that was the only error I could detect in the whole book.

Gabler addresses the issue of Disney's alleged anti-Semetism and refutes it. Disney associated with anti-Semites, but was not one himself.

The book is worth reading.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Stanley Rocket - July 21, 2007

Another early racing car, referred to as a "freak" in contemporary publications, was the Stanley Rocket, a steam-powered car which set the land speed record of 127.7 miles per hour at Daytona Beach in 1906. An improved version of the car returned to Daytona in 1907 and reached 150 mph before it hit a dip in the sand and wrecked itself. If it were not for the wire wheels, it would not look like a 1906 car.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Horse-Power Locomotive #1 - July 18, 2007

Around 1830, the pioneering Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which had used horses to pull its trains, tried a locomotive in which the horse walked on a treadmill, which drove the wheels through gearing.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ford 999 - July 17, 2007

I enjoy the look of pre-WWII racing cars. The 1902 Ford 999 is the most minimal racing car of all. Here it is shown with driver Barney Oldfield at the controls. He was a bicycle racer who had never driven an automobile before he drove 999 in a race. 999 was named after a famous New York Central locomotive.

I know Henry Ford was a bad guy in his anti-Semitic views and the way he treated his poor son, but I have always admired his engineering ideas. One that he held from his very first car, the quadricycle, was that autos should be light. 999 is an excellent example.

The original car is on display at the Henry Ford Museum (http://www.thehenryford.org/).

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Ward Kimball - July 15, 2007

Just back from a visit to Disneyland. We got to see and ride behind the latest locomotive on the Disneyland Railroad, Number 5, the Ward Kimball. I'll post more on my Park Trains page at the end of the month. I took this image at New Orleans Square Station.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Waterless Knox #2 - July 5, 2007

Another example of the Waterless Knox. What a great name. This is a two cylinder, 16-20 horsepower delivery wagon. It has solid rubber tires, chain drive, and a two-speed planetary transmission. From the 1906 edition of the Official Handbook of Automobiles of the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufactures.
The air-cooled Knox was manufactured in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Fireworks in Pacifica - July 5, 2007

It wasn't too bad. The blasting started about 3 pm. It picked up in force after dark, and died out by 11:30 pm. When I got to the Park and Ride lot at the beach, there was a big mess. I took the photo today. No big fires or major injuries reported.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Happy Independence Day - July 4, 2007

A nice berry and cherry pie that my mother bought at Safeway.
231 years. I remember the bicentennial.

samTrans #1 - July 3, 2007

I commute to work on samTrans (the San Mateo County Transit District). Today on the way home, I noticed that the driver's id number, worn on a sleeve patch, was 1015. This was the first time I had seen a driver with a four digit number. samTrans started in 1976. Up until a few years ago, some drivers had two digit numbers. One of them told me that they were the original hires, from the transit companies that were joined to form samTrans. 1015 was a good driver.

I took the photo at the Linda Mar Park and Ride lot on 03-July-2007. It shows Gillig Phantom 35-foot bus number 710.

Why? #2 -- July 3, 2007

Other names I considered for this blog:

Look on My Works Ye Mighty and Despair

The Inter-State Consolidated Rapid Transit Company

They Couldn't Hit an Elephant at This Dist-

Passengers Are Not Permitted to Stand Forward of the Yellow Line While the Blog is in Motion

Burn This Blog

Monday, July 2, 2007

Best Friend of Charleston - July 2, 2007

The Best Friend, also called The Best Friend of Charleston, was a pioneering locomotive built by the West Point Foundry in New York in 1830 for the South Carolina Railroad, which ran from Charleston to Hamburg. It pulled a passenger train on January 15, 1831.

The West Point Foundry assembled or built most of the early locomotives in the United States. Most early locomotives were light and lightly built, so they did not last for long. The Best Friend did not last as long as some. On June 17, 1831, the fireman, tired of the hiss of steam, held down the safety valve. The explosion caused several injuries and the fireman died two days later.

The Best Friend was rebuilt, probably with a vertical boiler, and renamed the Phoenix. It ran for many years. The South Carolina Railroad put a car of cotton bales behind its locomotives for some years to quiet the fears of the

Note the inclined cylinders at the front of the locomotive, and the engineer standing proudly.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Lincecum - Wow - July 1, 2007

We went to Pac Bell Park (I know that is no longer the name of the park, but I'm going to wait till they settle on a permanent name) today to see the Giants play the Arizona Diamondbacks. They were giving away camouflaged Giants hats. There were All Star Game posters all over.

This was my first time seeing Tim Lincecum pitch in person. He pitched seven, shut out the Diamonbacks, struck out 12, and walked none. The Giants won 13-0. Nine men batted in the fifth, and the Giants scored 6 runs.

The team announced that boats would have to be registered to be allowed in China Basin during All Star week, and that only boats under 20 feet would be allowed.

I took the photo today. It shows Lincecum on the mound, with second baseman Ray Durham and first baseman Ryan Klesko. Klesko had a good day: A single, a double, and a home run, all driving in runs.

Today was the day that the N-Judah started to run to the ball park again. We took the N.