Saturday, March 31, 2018

1939 Frazer Nash/BMW 328 Sports and Touring Two-Seater -- March 31, 2018

We visited the Blackhawk Museum in June, 2013 to drool over their collection of classic autos.

BMW built the 328 from 1936 to 1940.  One of the few chassis to survive the war was imported into Britain by AFN, which created an aerodynamic body.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Pearl Bailey 100 -- March 29, 2018
Singer and actress Pearl Bailey was born 100 years ago today, on 29-March-1918.  I remember seeing her on television.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Henry Adams, 150 Years -- March 27, 2018

Historian Henry Adams died 100 years ago today, on 27-March-1918.  I think I first heard of him in a history of American history class at San Francisco State.  I keep thinking I read The Education of Henry Adams for another class, but I can't think of which one.  Perhaps I just read it during the summer.  I think I read "Mont Saint Michel and Chartres" during the summer.

Nowadays I don't read many references to Henry Adams.  I should read some of his books again.

Yuri Gagarin 50 Years -- March 27, 2018
50 years ago today, on 27-March-1968, Yuri Gagarin, the first man to fly in space, died in a plane crash.  We didn't learn much about him or the rest of the Soviet space program when I was in school.
On 12-April-1961 he rode Vostock I into space and orbited the earth before returning safely.

Monday, March 26, 2018

March For Our Lives -- March 26, 2018

On Saturday, people all over the country, led by school kids, protested gun violence in schools and elsewhere.  I'm proud of the kids and everyone who helped.  I am disgusted by the National Rifle Association which has been spending lots of money on ads since the Florida school shooting.
updated 28-March-2018

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Magician Killed During Act -- March 24,2018

Variety, 29-March-1918
American magician William Robinson adopted the identity Chung Ling Soo for most of his career.  On 23-March-1918, he did the bullet catch trick at London's Wood Green Empire Theater.  Due to a mistake, he was shot in the chest and died the next day.  

(Cable to Variety.)
London, March 27.

Chung Ling Soo, Chinese magician, was accidentally shot at Wood Green Empire, March 23, during his performance and died March 24.

Two trick muzzle-loading rifles with secret chambers were used in the act of the magician. Loaded by members of the audience they were fired by attendants, Chung Ling Soo apparently catching the bullets on a plate held in front of him. By sleight of hand he showed flattened bullets after the flash and report from blank cartridges.

Faulty mechanism is believed to have been the cause, with the real charge exploding instead of the prepared one.

Chung Ling Soo was reported in the Monday dailies as having been killed Saturday night in London while doing the Hermann bullet-catching trick. The papers reported his name as Chung Lung Soo, stating he was a Chinese magician.

Chung Ling Soo was an American, William E. Robinson, 59 years of age and the first to do "black art" over here. He was an assistant to Hermann, the Great and Keller. In '99  when Ching Ling Foo, the Chinese conjuror, appeared at the Union Square theatre, an offer was made of $1,000 to anyone who could duplicate his tricks. Robinson offered to accept the challenge, but the opportunity was not secured.

In 1900 Ike Rose, then in Paris, heard of Robinson assuming Chinese dress and name. Rose booked him at the Folies Bergere, Paris, where he opened under a contract for two weeks at $800 gross. The opening performance while doing Ching Ling Foo's bowl trick, the bowl slipped to stage from under Robinson's flowing robe, breaking up the act that evening, although Robinson continued throughout the engagement.

He received in England, at his death, $1,500 weekly in the halls besides a percentage of the gross in the provinces.

The bullet-catching trick, first done by Hermann, the Great, is the holding of a plate, by the hands, extended before the breast while permitting anyone in the audience to shoot from a rifle at the magician on the stage. As the shot sounds, a bullet appears upon the plate. The rifle in the audience of course holds blank cartridges, palmed, after the loaded ones are shown the audience, and the bullets dropped into the plate arrive there in the same way.

Just how the accident occurred to Robinson during his magical act is problematical without further information. An investigation by the London authorities may develop some insight into it.

The magicians of New York have their surmises, hut are without authority for any belief they may hold.

Robinson is reported to be survived by a widow and three children.

Mrs. Adelaide Hermann, widow of Hermann, the Great, said this week the trick as first done by her husband was always considered a dangerous one. Robinson had been doing it a long time, Mrs. Hermann added, and she knew of no probable explanation of the accident.

(The cabled information received by Variety from London appears at variance in the manner of performing the trick as understood by magicians over here.)

Mme. Adelaide Hermann said the trick was always considered dangerous. Robinson had been doing it a long time, she added, and she could offer no probable explanation of the accident.

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Face of Liberty -- March 23, 2018
An image taken while the Statue of Liberty was under construction.

Some people seem to feel that images of Lady Liberty are insulting to our so-called president.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

George Benson 75 -- March 22, 2018
Happy birthday to guitarist George Benson.  He was a musical prodigy from the Hill District of Pittsburgh.  I remember hearing his stuff on KJAZ.  In the 1970s, he went for the crossover market with the album Breezin'.  I remember jazz purists complaining about his singing, but I didn't have a problem with it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Germany's Offensive on West Opens -- March 21, 2018

Bemidji Daily Pioneer, 22-March-1918
The German Army began its Spring Offensive on 21-March-1918 with Operation Michael.  The Germans wanted to strike a heavy blow and settle the war before American soldiers and industrial production became fully available in Europe.  In Operation Michael, Erich Ludendorff sent his troops against the British in an attempt to break through to the English Channel. The Germans used stormtrooper tactics on a large scale. The Germans broke through the British front line and made long advances, but faltered as their troops tired and they outran their supply lines.  



Berlin Reports Success.

Berlin, March 22. -- (Official) -- The Germans stormed broad sectors from a point southeast of Arras, southward to Lafere, and everywhere captured first line enemy trenches.

"Holding." Say British.

With the British armies afield, March 22. --
British troops are holding the Germans everywhere and driving them back in some places. The enemy has not reached a single objective.

(By William Phillip Simms)
United Press Correspondent

With the British armies afield, March 22. -- British troops, with their customary coolness, bobbed up after the German barrage of gas shells and high explosives at the starting of the big enemy attack and met the first rush wearing gas masks and machine gunning the first advancing waves of the invaders.

Hand-to-hand fighting is not frequent. It is too early to state whether, this is the. herald demanded of the offensive.

Berlin Bombardment.

London, March 22. -- The Germans shortly before dawn yesterday morning began a heavy bombardment over a wide section of the British front, it is announced officially.

The statement follows:

"A heavy bombardment was opened by the enemy shortly before dawn this morning against our whole front from the neighborhood of Vendeuil, south of St. Quentin, to the River Scarpe.

"A successful raid was carried out by us last night in the neighborhood of St. Quentin. Thirteen prisoners and three machine guns were brought back by our troops. Prisoners also were taken by us in patrol encounters southeast of Messines and in another successful raid carried out by us south of Houtholst forest.

"A raid undertaken by the enemy in the neighborhood of Armentieres was repulsed."

Sammies "Over" Again.

With the American armies afield, March 22. -- American troops at dawn this morning went over the top in a wooded and fog shrouded sector for the second time within twelve hours and entered the German second line trenches. They were accompanied by French units.


British Are Holding
(By United Press)

London, March 22 --
General Haig today reported, "We hold the enemy in our battle positions."

Editor's note: Battle positions are defenses directly behind the first line trenches. This would indicate that German preparations were limited.

Start of Offensive.

Washington, March 22. -- Germany's big offensive bombardment and attacks on the west front are generally regarded here as the starting of the long advertised major offensive. Military men are not discouraged on account the offensive met partial success at the outset. They cite the British have not yet ascertained just what the Germans intend doing.

Berlin is Quiet.

Berlin, March 22. -- News that the big west front drive had begun was received here quietly. Herr von Stelner, Austrian war minister here, promises that the Austrians would hold the eastern front and furnish a few troops and many guns for the west front. A few Bulgarians are on the west front.

Mav Mean War.

Washington, March 22. -- Berlin reports that Bulgarians are fighting on the west front. If so it may lead the United States immediately declaring war upon Bulgaria. Officials think only a few Bulgars are on the west front and may fight only the British. If they face the Americans it means war with the United States. It may mean that they are Maygars instead of Bulgars.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Happy Saint Joseph's Day, 2018 -- March 19, 2018
Happy Saint Joseph's Day to my fellow Joes.

Joseph Conrad (Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski) was born in Poland while much of the country was claimed by the Russian Empire. English may have been his fourth language (Polish, French, Russian, English).  His family had worked for Polish independence, so he had no future in Russia.  He joined the French merchant marine, and later the British.  I read somewhere that his shipmates called him "Polish Joe."  He began writing fiction in English and then had to give up the sea because of his health.

I read a lot of Conrad in college.  I took a summer class dedicated to him.  I got to operate the projector to show Lord Jim with Peter O'Toole.  It was my first experience with an anamorphic lens.

Conrad's books and stories show few signs that English was not his first language.  My final paper for the Conrad class was about a play he wrote, based on The Secret Agent.  I found traces of less-careful writing in the stage directions.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Wilfred Owen 125 -- March 18, 2018
Wilfred Owen, army officer and war poet was born 125 years ago today, on 18-March-1893.  While leading his troops on the Western Front, he was severely wounded and shell shocked.  At the Craiglockhart War Hospital, he met fellow war poet Siegfried Sassoon.  After he was discharged from the hospital, Owen could have spent the rest of the war on light duty, but he insisted on returning to the front.  He felt that it lent weight to his reporting on the terrors of the war.  He was awarded the Military Cross for an action at Joncourt.  He was killed on 04-November-1918, one week before the Armistice, during an action at the Sambre-Oise Canal.

Most of his poems were published after the war. Siegfried Sassoon helped to get them into print.


Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent(14) for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, 2018 -- March 17, 2018

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, everyone.

I took a photo of this statue of Saint Patrick in the back of Good Shepherd Church in Pacifica while I was setting up the collection baskets for 5 O'Clock mass.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Transit Driver Appreciation Day, 2018 -- March 16, 2018

I am grateful to the men and women who bravely face San Francisco traffic and San Francisco people every day. Thank you all.

The Wonder Show of the Universe -- March 16, 2018
Magician Howard Thurston established himself as a successful vaudeville performer, then joined with Harry Kellar on his farewell tour. When Kellar retired in 1908, Thurston carried on as his successor. Thurston continued performing until he suffered a stroke in 1935.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sly Stone 75 -- March 15, 2018
Happy 75th birthday to Sly Stone.  He was a disc jockey for San Francisco's KSOL.  He produced records for The Great Society and the Beau Brummels.  About 1967, he formed Sly and the Family Stone, a bend which was racially integrated and included men and women.  Sly and the Family Stone released A Whole New Thing in 1967. It was indeed. They recorded much successful music and put on some wild live shows, but he ran into trouble with drugs.  He is still with us and still making music.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking, RIP -- March 14, 2018
I was sorry to learn about the passing of physicist Stephen Hawking.  I enjoyed A Brief History of Time.  I admired his stubbornness in surviving so long and continuing to work.  He reminded me of my father, who was also in a wheelchair.  Hawking's sense of humor also reminded me of my father.  I enjoyed his appearances and the references to him on The Big Bang Theory.

Booth Tarkington 150 -- March 14, 2018

Time, 31-December-1929
Indiana author Booth Tarkington was born 150 years ago, on 14-March-2018.  I don't think people read his stories and novels much today.  When I was a kid, the only thing I knew about him was that he wrote the novel that Orson Welles used as the basis for The Magnificent Ambersons.  I was already in college when I learned that F Scott Fitzgerald was a great admirer of Tarkington.  Inspired by this, I went to the Anza Branch Library and took out Penrod: His Complete Story, a collection of stories about a boy who grows up.

Seattle Star, 23-January-1915
Booth Tarkington and Harry Leon Wilson wrote a play called Cameo Kirby.  It has been filmed several times.  Dustin Farnum, who had played the role on stage, starred in the 1914 version.  John Gilbert played the part in a 1923 version directed by John Ford.  Irving Cummings directed a 1930 version which starred J Harold Murray.  I have never heard of him, either.

Motion Picture Magazine, February, 1922
As far as I can tell, 1922's Penrod, starring Wesley Barry and directed by Mickey Neilan, was the first movie based on a Penrod story.  Ben Alexander played Penrod in a 1923 adaption of Penrod and Sam, also directed by Mickey Neilan.  Ben Alexander played Jack Webb's first partner on the television version of Dragnet.

Billy Mauch played Penrod in three talkies, Penrod and Sam (1937), Penrod and His Twin Brother and Penrod's Double Trouble, both in 1938.
Monsieur Beaucaire was a play by by Booth Tarkington and Evelyn Greenleaf Sutherland.  Rudolph Valentino and Bebe Daniels starred in a 1924 version.  Bob Hope and Joan Caulfield appeared in a 1946 adaption.
In 1942 Orson Welles based his second feature film on The Magnificent Ambersons, but the movie got butchered by the studio after he left for another project.  There was also a television adaption in 2002.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Batman vs The Monk -- March 13, 2018

Early stories about The Batman could be pretty creepy.  I remember when DC republished this story about The Monk, who turned out to be a vampire.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Pulp -- Jungle Stories -- March 12, 2018
Jungle Stories usually featured scantily clad jungle women on its cover.  While I have no objection to that, I really likes this tiger.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Wanda Gág 125 -- March 11, 2018

Writer and illustrator Wanda Gág was born 125 years ago today, on 11-Mrch-1893.  I don't know how many times I read her book Millions of Cats to my daughter.  We were always happy when the old man and his wife wound up with the right cat.

Later I discovered her next book, The Funny Thing.  My daughter, like the man Bobo, was shocked that the Funny Thing ate dolls.  We were happy when Bobo changed the Funny Thing's diet.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Mickey Spillane 100 -- March 9, 2018

Mystery novelist Mickey Spillane was born 100 years ago today, on 09-March-1918.  Before World War Two, he began writing for comic books.  Spillane served as a fighter pilot and trainer during the war.  After the war, his first novel, I, the Jury.  The novel and its main character, private detective Mike Hammer, became popular.  I never tried to read any of his books.
Robert Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly is a great  movie with a unique ending.  I don't know how much it had to do with the book.
I saw some episodes of the television show with Stacy Keach.  He played the part well.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Stars and Stripes -- March 7, 2018

Harrisburg Telegraph, 04-March-1918
Fresh American troops made good progress against the Germans in the Lorraine.

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Philadelphia Lying at Anchor in the Bay -- March 5, 2018

San Francisco Call, 28-June-1895
The drawing is from the 28-June-1895 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper. USS Philadelphia (C-4) was a protected cruiser launched in 1889 from the William Cramp and Sons Shipyard in Philadelphia.

The Flagship Philadelphia Arrives From the Hawaiian Islands.
A Suggestion That She Be Kept Here to Take Part In the Celebration.

The cruiser Philadelphia, flagship of Rear-Admiral L. A. Beardslee, U.S N., arrived yesterday morning, nine days and twenty hours from Honolulu. The warship steamed slowly, averaging ten and eleven knots under two of her four boilers, though during the last two days she was run up to fifteen knots. The machinery of the vessel is in good condition, as the injury to the starboard engine, which occurred on her trip down to the islands, had been repaired in Honolulu.

The complete roster of officers is:
Rear-admiral L. A. Beardslee; Lieutenant C. E. Fox, flag lieutenant ; Lieutenant M. E. Gorges, flag secretary; Captain C. S. Colton, commanding officer; Lieutenant-Commander R. R. Ingersoll, executive officer; Lieutenant W. M. Wood, navigator; lieutenants— F. E. Sawyer, P. J. Werlich, J. A. Hoogewerff ; ensigns— H. A. Field, W. R. Shoemaker; Medical Inspector G. F. Winslow, Past Assistant Surgeon F. A. Haslet. Assistant Surgeon M. S. Guest, Fleet Paymaster W. J. Thomson, Fleet Engineer David Smith, Past Assistant Engineer W. N. Little; Assistant Engineers, F. H. Conant, L. M. Nulton; Captain of Marines, H. C. Cochrane: Second Lieutenant of Marines, A. S. McLemore; Chaplain, W. E. Edmonson; Gunner, H. A. Eilens; Boatswain, T. Sheehan; Carpenter, F. S. Sheppard: Pay Clerk, F. P. Thomson.

The crew numbers 263 sailors and forty marines. As the crew are mostly all short-timers, the cruiser will have to enlist several hundred men at the Navy-Yard to supply the places of those soon to be discharged.

The vessel will probably go to Mare Island to-day, as orders are expected from Washington to that effect. Several of the officers on board suggested that the Fourth of July celebration committee secure the attendance of the Philadelphia here that her fine battalion may take part in the parade.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Russia Bows and Huns Stop -- March 3, 2018

Daily Missoulian, 04-March-1918
100 years ago today, the Central Powers, Germany and her allies, signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the new Bolshevik government of Russia.  German and Austrian armies had been advancing through Russian territory, and the Bolsheviks decided they had to make a separate peace to save their hides. I liked "Lenine and Trotzky."  "Bolsheviki" was a common plural for "Bolshevik."  

Sign Treaty Without Taking Time for Discussion of Any Contents.
Germans Order Detachment of Large Territory on Doubtful Pretext.


Berlin, via London, March 3— "By reason of the signing of the peace treaty with Russia," says the official communication from headquarters tonight, "military movements in great Russia have ceased."

Russia Signs Treaty.

Russia has bowed to the Teutonic allies. The Bolsheviki commissioners sent to Brest-Litovsk have signed the treaty of peace presented by the Germans, according to an official statement from Berlin, which adds that military movements in great Russia have ceased.

It was reported on Saturday by the Bolshevik commissioners that they were about to sign the treaty, this report was telegraphed to Lenine and Trotzky after the delegates sent to Brest-Litovsk had met the German emissaries. There is little information available as to the details of the meeting between the peace delegations, but the Bolshevik said they realized that any further delay would mean more onerous conditions and they would sign the treaty without further discussions.

Demand Increased.

Petrograd, Saturday, March 3—-In the fear that argument would result in even more onerous terms, the Russian delegation at Brest-Litovsk has accepted all the German peace condition« and is about to sign an agreement, according to n telegram from the delegates received today at the Smolny Institute. The demands already have been Increased, they reported.

The message, which was addressed to Premier Lenine and Foreign Minister Trotzky follows:.

"As we anticipated deliberations on a treaty of peace are absolutely useless and could only make things worse in comparison with the ultimatum of February 21. They might even assume the character of leading to the presentation of another ultimatum.

Disregard Discussion.

"In view of this fact and in consequence of the Germans' refusal to cease military action until peace is signed, we have resolved to sign the treaty without discussing its contents and leave after we have attached our signatures. We, therefore have requested a train, expected to sign today and leave afterwards.

"The most serious feature of the new demands with those of February 21 is the following:

Detach Territory.

The territorial claims upon Russia are apparently advanced in the interest of Turkey. Batoum, a strongly fortified seaport on the Black seacoast in Trans-Caucasia, about 20 miles north of the border of Turkish Armenia, was one of the cities ceded by Turkey to Russia after the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-78. Kars, also in Trans-Caucasia, 105 miles northeast of Erzeroum in Turkish Armenia, has been in dispute between the Turks and Russians for nearly a century and finally was ceded to Russia at the same time as was Batoum. The other region mentioned probably is that of Karabagh, Trans-Caucasia, lying to the east of the Kars region and north of the Persian border.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Types of Aeroplanes -- March 1, 2018

New York Tribune, 03-March-1918
This item from the 03-March-1918 New York Tribune features photos of various airplanes used by the Allies and the Central Powers.  Be sure to click on each row to see a larger image.