Saturday, January 30, 2010

Catholic Schools Week #3 -- January 30, 2010

Tomorrow is the start of Catholic Schools Week. I'm grateful that my parents put me in Catholic schools for 12 years. At 5 o'clock mass, Good Shepherd celebrated the start of Catholic Schools Week. The kids did a very good job with the readings and intentions. The school choir sang nicely. There was a big crowd.

Good Shepherd gave our daughter a great education and continues to do the same for many other children. It is worth considering if you live in or near Pacifica:

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Overdue Schooner Lizzie Prien -- January 29, 2010

From the 17-April-1897 San Francisco Call. WA Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper. This one shows a schooner which reached San Francisco after her owner had assumed she was lost. The accompanying article:


Why Shouldn't the Samaria
Be Heard of Before

Was Twenty Days From Tacoma
and Did Not Sight the

One of the overdue fleet got in from the Sound yesterday. The little schooner Lizzie Prien made an unusually long run of twenty days from Tacoma.

Her owners had piven her up as lost and were much surprised to learn that she was passing through the Golden Gate. When she reached the Golden Gate Lumber Company's wharf in Oakland Creek no one was more surprised than the manager of the concern. The little boat did not engage a tug, but with a fresh breeze failed up tho bay and making the mouth of the creek sailed in and the breeze holding good made her landing without assistance. "We never expected to see the vessel again," said George Fisher, manager of the company. "She was an unusually long time out, and judging from the reports of the weather and the hard times that other vessels had encountered we naturally feared the worst. However, all's well that ends well, and the Lizzie Prien is safe and sound in Oakland Creek."

"The Lizzie Prien sailed from Tacoma twenty days ago," said Captain Anderson yesterday, "while the Samaria left a week ahead of ns. The first day out we got it hot and heavy, and from that on it was a succession of sharp gales and calms. We passed no wreckage and saw no vessels in the distance. We passed an old spar, but it had been so long in the water that we did not pay any attention to it. If the Samaria did not go down during the seven days prior to. our sailing date, she certainly did not founder in the storms we encountered."

If the captain of the Rufus E. Wood is correct in bis surmises, then the last time the Samaria was seen was on April 2. In that event Captain Anderson is willing to swear that she is still afloat, as after that date there was no storm sufficient to sink a longboat. The owners of the missing vessel have nothing to say about the matter, and will not express an opinion until after the return of the revenue-cutter Rush.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

JD Salinger and Howard Zinn, RIP -- January 28, 2010

Yesterday, Howard Zinn died and today, JD Salinger. They were both WWII vets. Zinn was a bombardier in the AAF and Salinger was an infantryman who landed on Utah Beach on D-Day and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. The war shaped both of them.

We read Nine Stories and Catcher in the Rye in high school. One summer I went out and read everything else that had been collected into books. It wasn't much. Perhaps more will get published now that he has passed on.

Zinn made a lot of people think.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It's Hard Work Being a Cat #31 - January 27, 2010

I took the photo on 17-January-2010.

There was a huge crowd outside the Yerba Buena Gardens theater, waiting for the big Apple announcement. Steve Jobs came down from the mountain with the tablet. No camera. Limited RAM. At least it doesn't cost as much as rumored.

The Republican leadership admonished their people to behave during the State of the Union speech tonight. Good for them.

Monday, January 25, 2010

DVD: American Slapstick Volume II #3 -- January 25, 2010

Allday Entertainment has issued American Slapstick, Volume II, a three-cd collection of slapstick movies, mostly silents, and mostly shorts. Some of the movies are recovered from 9.5mm prints. Others are new reconstructions from multiple sources. All the silents have enjoyable scores, either created new for this set or assembled from contemporary recordings.

Disc Three has three sections: Hearts and Havoc, Ladies, and Talkies.

Hearts and Havoc groups two shorts with love themes. "Be Reasonable" is a Billy Bevan short, typical of Sennett's 1920s shorts, with lots of special effects. Bevan was funny despite all the craziness. "Call the Wagon" was the first Neal Burns movie I had seen. It was fun and didn't drag.

The Ladies section has some shorts starring women who are not remembered as well as they should be. "Cinderella Cinders" starred Alice Howell, whom I have seen before. My daughter liked her frizzy hair. Alice and her leading man did a good drunk act. "A Hash House Fraud" was a Keystone starring Louise Fazenda. It was funny, and it included an appearance by the Kops. "Faro Nell" was an early talkie, also starring Louise Fazenda. The melodramatic style reminded me of "The Fatal Glass of Beer." My daughter loved her voice.

The Talkie section was weak. "Playboy Number One" starred Willie Howard. I had read about Willie and his brother Eugene in vaudeville, but had never seen him. He put on a wild French accent. My daughter thought his interactions with a blonde he chased sounded like Pepe LePew. It wasn't very funny. "Hollywood Runaround" starred Monte Collins, whom I had seen in Buster Keaton's Columbia shorts. He was a boob who was chosen to run for mayor of Hollywood against a candidate backed by the mob. It was funny.

I'm glad I got the set. I'll be watching it again. Now I have to find Volume One.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

DVD: American Slapstick Volume II #2 -- January 24, 2010

Allday Entertainment has issued American Slapstick, Volume II, a three-cd collection of slapstick movies, mostly silents, and mostly shorts. Some of the movies are recovered from 9.5mm prints. Others are new reconstructions from multiple sources. All the silents have enjoyable scores, either created new for this set or assembled from contemporary recordings.

Disc Two has two sections: Chaplin Without Chaplin and Sydney Chaplin.

The Chaplin Without Chaplin section starts with cartoons done by Otto Messmer for the Pat Sullivan Studio. A brief clip from "Felix in Hollywood" shows Felix imitating Chaplin, then running into him. A longer excerpt from "Charley at the Beach" shows Chaplin running through some standard beach gags. Messmer's animated Chaplin captured some of the feeling of the real thing. "Out West" shows Charley in a frontier town, then riding out to rescue the beautiful maiden who was captured by the Indians. This one merited a warning about stereotypes. It also dragged. "The Hobo" was the first complete Billy West movie I have seen. My daughter agreed that he looked like Chaplin. The movie made me appreciate how well-structured Charley's movies are. Oliver Hardy and Leo White appeared. A selection from "Oh Shoot!" showed Bobby Dunn looking somewhat like Charley, but not acting much like him. It reminded me of a Larry Semon movie. I liked the Mule.

The Sydney Chaplin section began with two Keystone Gussle movies, "Caught in a Park" and "Gussle's Wayward Path." Gussle reminded me of a character Michael Palin might do in a Monty Python sketch. The family felt that Sydney was copying all of Charlie's mannerisms. My daughter was not happy about Gussle hanging up the little dog. Those films were followed by the feature "Charley's Aunt." This seemed like a standard version of the play, although Sydney was more acrobatic than most Aunties. This was the only feature in the set.

I enjoyed Disc Two.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

DVD: American Slapstick Volume II #1 -- January 23, 2010

Allday Entertainment has issued American Slapstick, Volume II, a three-cd collection of slapstick movies, mostly silents, and mostly shorts. Some of the movies are recovered from 9.5mm prints. Others are new reconstructions from multiple sources. All the silents have enjoyable scores, either created new for this set or assembled from contemporary recordings.

Disc One has three sections: Harold Lloyd, Hal Roach's B team, and movies from the Educational (hah) Studio.

The Harold Lloyd section starts with a fragment of "Luke Joins the Navy," which was the longest piece of a Lonesome Luke movie that I have ever seen. There wasn't much to it, although part of it takes place on a battleship (I think). It was more vigorous than funny. I had never been able to tell from stills, but I could see from the movie how Lloyd was imitating Chaplin. My daughter couldn't see it.

"By the Sad Sea Waves" was a complete movie with the "Glass Character." It was vigorous and funny, with a miniature train gag at the end.

"Bliss," "Hey There," and "Don't Shove" were one-reelers which showed Harold gradually developing his acting and his gagging. "Hey There" was set in a movie studio. Bebe Daniels was cute in all of them, and there was a beautiful closeup of her smiling at the skating rink in "Don't Shove."

The B-team section started with "Dodge Your Debts", which is the only Gaylord Lloyd film I have ever seen. I have no idea why it was set in England. It wasn't very funny.

"Whirl of the West" and "The Dippy Dentist" are Snub Pollard and Marie Mosquini movies which I enjoyed. The dentist movie had a strong Prohibition element.

"Shiver and Shake" and "Post No Bills" are the only Jimmy Parrott (brother of Charley Chase) movies I have ever seen. "Post No Bills" was absurdly funny.

The Educational section started with "A Fresh Start," a Lige Conley/Jimmy Adams short. My wife liked the music and the reactions of the characters. It got pretty silly by the time the lions entered from the zoo next to the hotel. Some of the scenes with the leading lady were risque.

"Kid Speed" was a Larry Semon film. I'm partial to old racing cars, and Oliver Hardy was good. I saw the standard Semon mud pits.

"Jonah Jones" and "Breezing Along" were Lloyd Hamilton films. I had not seen much of his work outside of the Youngson compilations. He was very expressive.

Disc One was a very good start.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Pulp #8 -- January 22, 2010

The Avenger was a pulp hero who lasted for a relatively short time, from 1939 to 1942. Richard Benson was a rich adventurer who settled down to marry and raise a family. His wife and daughter were killed in a plane crash, and Benson's hair turned white and his face became paralyzed. He decided to dedicate his life to taking vengance on criminals. He formed a team which, unusually for a pulp hero's organization, was integrated. The Avenger liked to trick criminals into destroying themselves. Unfortunately, the pulp hero market was crowded, and the publisher cancelled the series.

I read some reprints in the 1970s, and read a DC comic book revival in the 1980s, at the same time they revived the Shadow in a comic book.

The image, showing the November, 1939 cover, is from a wonderful site called Cover Browser:

This morning when I got up, KCBS said "chance of showers." I looked out the window and the rain was coming down in buckets. BART was late.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Big Storms -- January 21, 2010

It has been raining all week. Today the rain was fairly light but steady. Yesterday we had heavy rain, with lightning and thunder in the afternoon. Tuesday, when I took this photo, we also had heavy rain with more lightning and thunder.

The photo shows Third and Howard Streets, with Moscone Center and the Keith Haring sculpture.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Grauman's Chinese #6 -- January 19, 2010

Singing cowboy Gene Autry and his horse Champion left hand, foot, and hoof prints in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese on 23-December-1949. DSCN4140.

Gene Autry was a hillbilly music recording artist, a pioneering singing cowboy, a WWII veteran, a radio and television performer, and owner of the California Angels for many years.

I took this on 18-July-2009.

During the night, there were strong winds and lots of rain. I drove slowly to the BART station. The skies cleared around noon, so I took a walk around the block. Later in the afternoon, we had lightning and thunder with heavy rain. When I left, it was sunny. BART was delayed. It was raining when I got to Colma station.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Happy Birthday, Doctor King #3 -- January 18, 2010

"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."

Very heavy rain today. I gave up trying to go south on the Great Highway and swung over to the lower Great Highway. So far, the power has stayed on.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Giants Wall of Fame #15 -- January 17, 2010

In September, 2008 the Giants unveiled their Wall of Fame along the King Street side of the ballpark, whatever it is called this week. This plaque was added on 28-August-2009, to honor recently retired Jeff Kent.

Kent was a great hitter and a decent fielder. He carried a take-no-prisoners attitude to the field. I've forgiven him for playing for the Dodgers, and I expect he will wind up in the Hall of Fame.

This will be the last entry in this series until the Giants add another plaque. I expect to see Rich Aurelia added one of these months.

Today it rained.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Prejudice and Patriotism -- January 16, 2010

Today we went for a walk in the Presidio and went to see the current exhibit at the Officers' Club "Prejudice and Patriotism," which talks about the experiences of Japanese Americans who went into the armed forces during World War II. I remember about 2000 when the US declassified the story of the language school in the Presidio. Military Intelligence veteran Cedric Shimo was speaking about his experiences while we were there. There was an extensive section at the end with current photos of vets and a little write-up about the experinces of each. Most were from MIS or the 442nd. The exhibit closes at the end of January.

It started to rain lightly while we were on our way home.

Before dismissing us after mass, Father Piers pulled out a rolled up cord and said that in all his years as a priest he had never seen anything like this: someone pulled down the rope from our church bell.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hark the Herald #3 -- January 15, 2010

I like railroad heralds, and I especially like Muni's old round logo. I took this photo at Western Railway Museum in Rio Vista Junction, showing the logo on the side of blue and gold Magic Carpet 1003. I took the photo in October, 2009.

It was very cold today.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sutro Baths #2 -- January 13, 2010

An ad for Sutro Baths from the 17-April-1897 San Francisco Call. I would like to see "Mr. Charles Cavill in his Wonderful Monte Cristo Drowning Act." I suppose he got sewn into a sack and thrown into the pool, so it was an escape act.

My grandfather took to Sutro Baths a few times before it burned in 1966. I remember playing in the back yard and watching ashes blow overhead.

It rained lightly while I took my lunchtime walk, but I didn't get very wet.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Book - Little Blue Book of Advent and Christmas -- January 12, 2010

I just finished with the Little Blue Book of Advent and Christmas, which is published by the Diocese of Saginaw, Michigan. I had previously read The Little Black Book of Lent.

There is a pair of facing pages for each day from the first Sunday of Advent to the Feast of the Advent of the Lord. The right-hand page has a quote from the day's Gospel and a commentary. The left-hand page has some additional things to think about. On Sundays, it omits the Gospel and has a longer reflection. The book encourages people to spend six minutes each day reading and thinking. I started reading it on the bus home and finished it on BART. I enjoyed it.

The book has a plain blue cover so people won't have to feel self conscious about reading it anywhere. There is going to be another black book for Lent and a white book for the Easter season.

Catherine Havens is the editor, and much of the commentary comes from the writings of the late Bishop Ken Untener.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The 411 -- January 11, 2010

SamTrans bus 411 at Colma BART station on 05-January-2010. The new bus models the new paint job.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Alley #3 -- January 10, 2010

Looking across Brannan Street down Jack London Alley towards South Park. Jack London, one of my favorite authors, was born nearby at Third and Bryant. I can't find the original name of the alley. I took the photo on 29-October-2009.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Harold Geissenheimer and Art Clokey, RIP -- January 9, 2010

Harold Geissenheimer, former Muni General Manager, has died. He was a railfan, and his support helped to make the Trolley Festivals a success in the 1980s, which led to the current F line. Muni Iron Monster 178 was borrowed from the Western Railway Museum at Rio Vista Junction for the festival. I took the photo of 178 and Key System 271 in October, 2009.

Art Clokey, creator of Gumby, and an all-around cool guy, also died.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Doctor Van Der Weyde's Obituary -- January 8, 2010

Doctor Peter Henri Van Der Weyde wrote the series of articles which gave this blog its name. Here is his obituary from the 19-March-1895 New York Times. The image comes from the first installment of his memoirs, "Reminisces of an Active Life", in the February, 1893 issue of Manufacturer and Builder.

Prof. Peter H. Vander Weyde.

Peter H. Vander Weyde, the scientist, died yesterday morning at his home, 82 Clinton Place. He had been ill for several days. He was eighty-two years old.

Prof. Vander Weyde was born in Nymegen, Holland. He was a descendant of Walter Vander Vogel Weyde, the famous troubador of the fourteenth century. Another ancestor was Roger Vander Weyde, the celebrated Dutch painter. The family emigrated from Germany to Holland at the time of the Reformation.

Prof. Vander Weyde studied at Durpldorf and was graduated from the Royal Academy at Delft. He was a scientific writer and teacher in Holland, and Professor of Mathematics and Natual Philosophy at the Government School of Design. In 1842 he founded a journal devoted to mathematics and physics, and in 1845 received a gold medal from the Society for the Promotion of Scientific Knowledge for a textbook on natural philosophy. At the same time he was the editor of a liberal daily paper which waged vigorous warfare against existing abuses in the Government.

He came to New-York in 1849. He studied and was graduated from the New-York University Medical College in 1856, and practiced medicine until 1859. In that year he was appointed Professor of Physics, Chemistry, and Higher Mathematics at the Cooper Institute. He was also Professor of Chemistry in the New-York Medical College.

The chair of Industrial Science was expressly created for him in 1864 at Girard College, Philadelphia. He resigned this professorship a few years later, and returning to New-York became editor of The Manufacturer and Builder, a scientific journal. He contributed many articles of a scientific nature to Appleton's New American Cyclopedia, of which he was an editor.

As an inventor and electrician he had a wide reputation. He had over 200 patents on inventions of his own, mostly electrical.

Prof. Vander Weyde was also noted as a musician and composer, and was a painter of considerable merit. For twenty years he was organist of the First Dutch Reformed Church in Brooklyn. His writings for the scientific press have been extensive, and within a week of his death he wrote and completed an article on modern electricity for one of the New-York scientific journals. The funeral will take place tomorrow.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Train Station #18 -- January 7, 2010

The Colma passenger depot is preserved as part of the museum of the Colma Historical Association ( It was built about 1863-1864 as the Schoolhouse Stop on the San Francisco and San Jose Railroad. Southern Pacific stopped using it in the 1960s, and it was moved to its present location on Hillside Boulevard in the 1990s, I think.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Firehouse #27 -- January 5, 2010

San Francisco Station 37 is located at 22nd and Wisconsin Streets. This model of the station, made from recycled materials, appeared at the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, as part of the background for the Golden Gate Express Railway.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

M. Bleriot in His Airplane -- January 3, 2010

Louis Blériot sits in his airplane some time before he made the first flight across the English Channel on 25-July-1909. There are no wings attached to this particular ship. From the 25-July-1909 Washington Times.

It has been very windy today.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Golden Gate Express Railway #2 -- January 2, 2010

Today we went to the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. In the special exhibit room at the west end was the Golden Gate Express Railway, a garden scale layout designed by by members of the Bay Area Garden Railway Society. The famous San Francisco structures were made from recycled materials. Autos ran across the Golden Gate Bridge. A cable car climbed the Hyde Street hill. A freight train ran around the layout. I think one track was not in use today. Structures included the Ghirardelli factory, made from chocolate-colored light switch and plug cover plates, the Chinatown gate made from Mah Jong tiles, the Castro Theatre, and Pac Bell Park. The Ferry Building clock came from a kitchen timer. New this year were a soundtrack, including organ music for the Castro, bells for the cable cars, Chinese music for Chinatown, and crowd noises and Renel Brooks-Moon's announcements. We didn't get to see it, but the fog was supposed to come in twice a day.

The Conservatory's ticket booth was closed because some jerk tried to break in during the week and damaged it.

I posted a video:

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year #3 -- January 1, 2010

I wish everyone a happy and prosperous new year.

The cartoon from the 01-January-1910 San Francisco Call looks forward to the Municipal Railway, just approved by the voters, and public ownership of the water supply.