Here's a fairly amazing review which appeared in the loval media:

Book Review: Lost Burbank


During my life spent living in this spectacular city, people have asked me what it is about Burbank that gives it that hometown feeling despite being in the center of a major metropolitan area in Southern California. It has always been hard to explain why people born here, stay here, retire here, and even die here.

It is not unusual to see families that have been here for 50-plus years. Generation of families have called Burbank home. It’s a feeliing that you cannot really explain as much as you try.

If there was ever a way to put that on paper, authors Wesley H. Clark and Michael B. McDaniel might have achieved what most residents have found impossible to explain.


Lost Burbank is a book of unique stories and a trove of treasures. It is the history of Burbank and the folklore that also makes up many of the stories.

When you first open the book and look at the preface, you are already intrigued by the Turkey Crossing and what Burbankers have all known for years as a local pride and joy, Martino’s Tea Cakes.

Clark and McDaniel first take you through the early years of Burbank all the way back to the days of Burbank’s namesake, dentist Dr. David Burbank.

Did you know there was talk about Disneyland and UCLA being located in Burbank? Find out the real stories as described by these two men.

What is also great about the book is not only the history that is shared, but the great array of pictures from all the different eras. Historical pictures of Burbank, both locations as well as the people, give you a sense of the time. If you are like me you will study some of the different pictures and put them into today’s Burbank to realize not only all the changes, but also some of the similarities to the past.

Another chapter deals with the the war and especially Lockheed. Not only an integral aspect to the war, but also for the Burbank economy. Another part of Burbank’s important history and evolution is covered in a chapter entitled, “The Media Capital of the World.”

When we arrive to “Notable Places,” the mixture of both stories and pictures is rich in history. You see some of the beginnings of Burbank’s landmarks both back then and today. Places such as the Jefferies Barn, the Dip at Five Points, the Pumpkin Building, the Golden Mall and even a spot called “Hotsie Alley” all have their nitch in our history and memories.

You will also find a chapter on Burbank’s music history as well as the inventors that made Burbank home. Did you know that someone in Burbank actually invented a monorail in 1911? Might not be what you would ride at Disneyland but then what if Disneyland had been built in Burbank and the monorail was already here? Makes you wonder, ‘what if?’

We also learn about the many personalities in Burbank, both widely known and those who were just local legends. It’s a whose-who of names that weaved the fabric of this city.

Of course no city is complete without its dark and scandalous years. The authors delve into the seedy side of Burbank with a chapter entitled, “Murder and High Crimes in Burbank!” There is the murder of cowboy star William ‘Tom’ T. Bay in 1933 and, of course, a section dedicated to the crime and corruption in the 1950’s that led Burbank to many reforms including the Police Commission that is still around today.

Without a doubt though, my favorite chapter entitled “Fun Burbank Lore” is exactly that, the stories and events that made up your childhood and youth if you grew up in Burbank. Everyone knew of the ‘Breathing Bush’ and the rumors of ghosts at City Hall. And yes, it actually did snow in Burbank and even the Big Game (Burroughs vs. Burbank high school football) is mentioned.

The last chapter is dedicated to the brave warriors that called Burbank home. It mentions all the memorials in Burbank and the poignant stories about them.

I have known about Clark and McDaniel for many years. I was first introduced to them through their website, Burbankia, which I would look at for both reference and enjoyment for years. MyBurbank then approached the two bright authors for their contributions to our “Friday Flashback” series that runs every Friday highlighting a different event or moment from Burbank’s past.

Lost Burbank brings everything full circle and has captured what many thought would never be depicted or brought back to life for us Burbankers. The soft cover book entails 224 powerful pages and would be a great coffee table addition for your perusement.

A fantastic value for under $20, you can buy it directly on Amazon by clicking this link. Enjoy this holiday season reading about the amazing history of our great city!

I cannot seem to post a title for this blog update without my iPhone app crashing, but it is 3 December, 2016. 


The slideshow and book signing on 30 November went well. Here's a newspaper article about it: 


http://myburbank.com/12/sections/events/lost-burbank-authors-meet-readers/ 


We have another book signing to do this morning in a Burbank bookstore, and then tomorrow we do yet another book signing at the local Barnes & Noble bookstore. This is fun!


I fly back to the East Coast on Monday.

28 November 2016

Star Trek Continues
Ah, Four day weekends are lovely! Except that I caught a cold over this one and am now feeling draggy, with some crud in my chest. This is not good at all. I am doing a Lost Burbank slide presentation in Burbank on Wednesday, and book signings on other dates. I have to be up for those. I guess I'll be on a regimen of caffeine and DayQuil for the next few days...

Thanksgiving was nice. My son, his wife and the grand kids came over. Videos:

Gibson: Third Generation Legomaniac!

Thanksgiving Pies

Thanksgiving Pies II

and from a few weeks ago, One Saturday Morning at Giant.

We watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. Ethan found Verizon's  360 degree virtual reality site that was streaming it live, and put his Apple iPhone 7 into cardboard goggles he had; it was amazing! Every now and then the vantage point was switched to a location 20 stories or so above the parade, and looking down with the goggles one could see a drop down to the street below. It was weird, standing in Ethan's living room and yet, "being" in Manhattan and looking down 20 stories. What an amazing technology.

I watched another couple of Star Trek Continues episodes over the weekend, numbers 6 and 7. The screenwriting and the plots of this don't always rise to the level of the original series, but it sure is fun to watch! It's the original series but continued - as if the 1966 show with William Shatner never got canceled. It is very faithful to the characters, style, lighting, production and incidental music of the original. They even retain a squarish aspect ratio. I also appreciate that in many ways they pretend it's still 1966; in other words, the political correctness is underplayed. Actually, I enjoy it more than I do the the big budget Star Trek movies!

Yesterday was an important day for me at church. Without going into the specifics, I was placed in charge of a group of older men who meet as a group at church each week, so I now have the primary responsibility for their home teaching program (this is where members make home visits once each month) as well as various other service assignments and tasks they do and providing weekly lessons for them. It means an ordination into the ranks of what we call the High Priests, and a lot more meetings! I am humbled and slightly overwhelmed... but I suppose this shall pass as I get down to it and do the work.

I fly to Burbank tomorrow for a week of slideshows and book signings, so no blog updates for a while...

28 November 2016

Star Trek Continues
Ah, Four day weekends are lovely! Except that I caught a cold over this one and am now feeling draggy, with some crud in my chest. This is not good at all. I am doing a Lost Burbank slide presentation in Burbank on Wednesday, and book signings on other dates. I have to be up for those. I guess I'll be on a regimen of caffeine and DayQuil for the next few days...

Thanksgiving was nice. My son, his wife and the grand kids came over. Videos:

Gibson: Third Generation Legomaniac!

Thanksgiving Pies

Thanksgiving Pies II

and from a few weeks ago, One Saturday Morning at Giant.

We watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. Ethan found Verizon's  360 degree virtual reality site that was streaming it live, and put his Apple iPhone 7 into cardboard goggles he had; it was amazing! Every now and then the vantage point was switched to a location 20 stories or so above the parade, and looking down with the goggles one could see a drop down to the street below. It was weird, standing in Ethan's living room and yet, "being" in Manhattan and looking down 20 stories. What an amazing technology.

I watched another couple of Star Trek Continues episodes over the weekend, numbers 6 and 7. The screenwriting and the plots of this don't always rise to the level of the original series, but it sure is fun to watch! It's the original series but continued - as if the 1966 show with William Shatner never got canceled. It is very faithful to the characters, style, lighting, production and incidental music of the original. They even retain a squarish aspect ratio. I also appreciate that in many ways they pretend it's still 1966; in other words, the political correctness is underplayed. Actually, I enjoy it more than I do the the big budget Star Trek movies!

Yesterday was an important day for me at church. Without going into the specifics, I was placed in charge of a group of older men who meet as a group at church each week, so I now have the primary responsibility for their home teaching program (this is where members make home visits once each month) as well as various other service assignments and tasks they do and providing weekly lessons for them. It means an ordination into the ranks of what we call the High Priests, and a lot more meetings! I am humbled and slightly overwhelmed... but I suppose this shall pass as I get down to it and do the work.

I fly to Burbank tomorrow for a week of slideshows and book signings, so no blog updates for a while...

23 November 2016

I watched most of Captain America: Civil War (2016) last night. It was somewhat ho-hum until all the players got into a colossal scrape at some airfield: Captain America! Iron Man! The Black Widow! The Scarlet Witch! The Black Panther! Ant-Man/Giant-Man! War Machine! Hawkeye! The Falcon! The Vision! Bucky Barnes! And, surprisingly, Spider-Man!

The best scene in the movie was Tony Stark meeting Peter Parker. In fact, the Spider-Man character steals the show.  But what is he doing in it? The Avengers are forced to agree to work for an international government because they go around destroying city blocks while fighting the bad buys, getting kids killed. This causes a rift within the Avengers ranks (hence the title). Tony Stark (Iron Man) is in support of the international agreement that limits their powers. But then he recruits a high schooler (Peter Parker/Spider-Man) to risk his life and help him to fight the others? It makes no sense. Well... whatever. I no longer expect comic book superhero movies to make much sense. I just hope they don't waste my time.

Captain America: Civil War is one of the better Marvel movies, but I think my favorite remains Spider-Man (2002).

We had my little grandson Hudson over last night, hence this video. (Actually, my wife had him most of the day.) He's at the age where bathroom humor is hilarious. He'll love Cub Scouts. And we saw my little granddaughter Ruby on a Face Time connection last night: her new party trick is waving goodbye by extending her hand and clasping and unclasping it. Six months old!

I did more work on the Burbankia photos page. I added albums covering Ansel Adams' visit to Lockheed, inventor Maurice Poirier, the 121st Aircraft Artillery unit's stay in town and, my favorite Burbank family, the litigious Fawkes Clan. That's 2,566 images total, with more coming. I should have done something like this years ago.

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense to me to reorganize Burbankia purely in terms of photos, text and videos. That is, structure Burbankia thus: photos on Google Pictures albums, videos on a YouTube playlist and text on Blogspot blog pages - and that's it. It will take a while to do, but if it works out I can re-do my other websites that way. Except, I think, JonahWorld!, my 1996 Civil War reenacting website.  I like that it's so retro-looking. It is probably one of the oldest continually-maintained websites on the World Wide Web. It might just be the oldest that is still a series of hypertext-driven HTML pages... (There is this wikipedia article describing websites from 1991-1994.) In another decade JonahWorld! will be even more venerable.

Thanksgiving tomorrow: the grandsons are coming over tomorrow morning to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, and there will be the usual eating. I put up the Christmas tree Friday (I'm taking that day off). So this is likely to be the last post until Monday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

22 November 2016


Please look after this bear. Thank you. 
I am still reading James Michener's Iberia. I'm on page 426 of this 938 page book. (I'd be further along but I forgot to grab my reading glasses this morning.) Geez, I'm not even halfway through! This book is too long... it's more about Spain than I care to know. If I were headed there on a vacation it would make an excellent introduction, but that's not happening so I think I'm going to abandon ship.

We watched Paddington (2014) over the weekend. For a kid's film, it was pretty good - a quality British production. The visual production was amazing; there was lots of eye candy in this one. You would have to have a heart of stone not to like this film. It and Babe (1995) are the Citizen Kane of talking animal films, I think.  

Over the weekend I also watched the new rendition of Top Gear, Clarkson, May and Hammond's The Grand Tour season one episode one. It had a few flaws, but, overall, the series is off to a promising start. I liked the opening scenes at LAX; I'll be there next week! It ran over an hour and ten minutes, which is too long. They need to confine it to an hour, tops. I don't miss the "Star in a reasonably priced car" segment at all. 

I also re-watched O Brother Where Art Thou (2000), the Coen Brothers' best film after Blood Simple (1984). They haven't made a film as good since.

Yesterday I mentioned our ward's reorganization or re-districting. My son serves as a Cub Scouts Bear Den leader. Prior to the reorganization he had seventeen nine-year olds. Now it appears he only has four or five! And walking into work this morning I realized that he's a den leader in the very same Cub Scout Pack that he was a Bear in. Stuff like that kind of sneaks up on you. 

I created a new Burbankia photos page using Google+ to create an albums page from individual Google Photos albums, take a look. I think it's a much better way for people to find things than a very long page with hypertext links. There are about 2,200 photos in these albums. My next chore is to sort though the website and add what one guy at work calls "cats and dogs" - the various other images. 

Over the weekend I brought the family scrapbook up to date. What comes next is Thanksgiving, the Lost Burbank book signing trip to Burbank next week and a massive family Christmas (my daughters and family are flying out). More photos! 

We had major winds blowing through the area in the past couple of days. Yesterday morning I saw something remarkable: there were two massive piles of leaves in front of a house up the street. Whether these were man made or wind-made, I do not know. Anyway, as I stood watching a big gust of wind took the tops off of the piles and blew leaves everywhere. It was like looking in a shaken snowglobe, except with dead leaves. And that's one of the reasons I like the four seasons weather in Northern Virginia! 

My daughter-in-law is feeling crappy - she has some kind of cold or flu - and so we watched the kids for a few hours to let her get some rest. What a jolly little pair of grandsons I have! Gibson, nearly 4 1/2, and Hudson, age 2 1/2, are so adorable and fun. What a blessing to live close by to see them so often! It's true: If I knew what fun grandchildren are I'd have had them first.

Last night's Berlin Philharmonic concert was... the first four minutes of Haydn's 99th symphony. This is the second time I've tried to listen to it. Something about the time of the evening and that comfy sofa we have downstairs - staying awake on it is difficult - makes it difficult to get past the slow, solemn introduction (common with Haydn's "London" symphonies) and into the bright, cheerful allegro section of the first movement. By then I'm out. I'll try again some other time when I'm better rested. 

Received today in my e-mail inbox: "Hi!I do not want much to distract you, your letter.In my e-mail box received a letter with your address!It was written, what you are looking for Woman.I'm looking for a serious relationship, just like you!I want to meet you and get to know you.If you exist, then tell me.I have to work, so I end my letter.I will be very happy if you answer me.In the next letter I will tell you more about her on life."

Charlton Heston once said, "The Internet is for lonely people."

21 November 2016

The White Guardian
I'm feeling a bit shell-shocked this morning; our ward was reorganized yesterday. (Translation: the geographical boundaries of our Mormon church congregation - our ward - were shifted.) The reason why: the leadership in the larger organization - the stake - recognized that they needed to equalize the numbers in each ward that makes up the stake. (There are eight wards in the stake.)

Because of the opening of a section in our geographical area some years ago from a prison to housing developments (I speak of the Lorton, Virginia area), many families have moved in and our ward has gotten quite big. Too big, really. Lots of kids mean additional requirements for nursery and primary services, parking and traffic starts to become iffy and the facilities get crowded. Most of all it puts a strain upon the leadership to adequately minister to the members of the ward. So the ward boundaries were changed and people within our church congregation get shuffled.

Some families - like mine and my son's - stay put in the Springfield (Virginia) Ward. Others are expected to start attending services with the neighboring ward, the Rolling Valley Ward. Also, our ward is getting some families from that ward. There is an optimum size for a ward, and the reorganization was accomplished to attain that across the stake. The reorganization addresses a growth problem - and growth is good, right? Yes, it is. These kinds of problems are good to have.

Adjustments like this don't happen very often for a good reason: they are socially wrenching. There are no less than eight families whom we have known socially and with whom we have attended church for more than twenty years. They are now expected to attend services with another ward. It's not like we'll never see these people anymore - we will continue to see them at stake activities and there is nothing keeping us from seeing each other socially outside of church. But we won't see each other every Sunday and that's sad. Those faces have been one of the constants in life.

But, hey, we're Mormons. We have a pioneer heritage and a pioneering culture, and we are constantly enjoined to strike out and look for the opportunities in everything that happens to us. We recognize that change helps us to grow and a static life is not good. We also recognize that God is the gardener, and we get pruned, potted, placed elsewhere and grafted to produce a better effect.

I wonder, do other churches do this to themselves? This is the kind of thing that might wreck a congregation. Yet we will forge ahead and, as the adults promised us we would do in summer camp when we were kids, make new friends.  In doing so and adapting to change we will mature. That's Life 101.

It causes me to think of a conversational exchange from an episode of the British science-fiction series Doctor Who, if I might invoke a pop cultural thing to express a higher idea. The good Doctor is minding his own affairs and blasting through space and time in his vehicle when he is suddenly captured and summoned to the presence of one of the Guardians of the Universe, a godlike being of immense power and dignity. The Guardian has a daunting task for the Doctor, and explains it. The Doctor then realizes that the Guardian expects him to volunteer. The Doctor, hesitant to take on the responsibility, asks what happens if he decides to refuse the task. "Nothing," says the Guardian. "Nothing?" replies the Doctor. The Guardian fixes his stare upon the Doctor and responds, "Nothing at all. Ever." The Doctor, recognizing that the inclusion of Nothing in his life is probably not a good thing, accepts the task and the episode moves on.

The exchange is cleverly introduced as to allow the viewer to determine for himself what Nothing means, but I take it to mean a static existence. No additional pain, no extra sorrow, no further wrenching occasions, but, also, no challenges, no attainments and no growth. For a well-intentioned gadabout like the Doctor, this is anathema - and it should be for us as well.

We Mormons believe that we are here on earth for the specific purpose of learning the good from the evil, and to always choose the right thing - a teaching experience. (It's spelled out here, in our newsroom.) We can say, "We are not earthly beings in church to have a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings on earth to have an earthly experience." That being the case, Nothing and Nothing at all, ever is best avoided, no matter how comforting it seems. That path leads no where and as a friend of mine once said, there is no pot of gold at the end of that rainbow.

So the ward reorganization rolls on.

18 November 2016

Carolina Chocolate Drops
My daughter Meredith has a daughter, Ruby, born just over six months ago. In one video she sent, she bellowed a folk song with lyrics that went, "Oh Rubbbeeeeeeeeeeee, Ruby - honey are you MAD at your man?" (Meredith is loud when she sings.) In the video, Ruby the baby smiled back sweetly. Always curious about songs with which I am not familiar, I asked her what she was singing. That led to this video, "Ruby are you mad at your man" by the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Rhiannon Giddens, vocalist. This one's an earworm and a half, and I love when the guy on the right brings out the bones. Great song! I suspect poor little Ruby is going to hear this one all her life...

I watched Iron Man 3 (2013) last night. It didn't really do anything for me. This one featured a lot of explosions and Robert Downey Jr. acting like Robert Downey Jr. - a little of him goes a long way, actually. It kind of annoyed me that Tony Stark spent very little time in the Iron Man armor during the course of this film. I watch these modern comic book movies, but I am rarely impressed with them.

The other day I mentioned that I streamlined the photos page of Burbankia by using Google Photos albums. I did this with the history page as well. I also intend to move all the images off the etc page and put them in the etc photo album, where they belong. But this is only the beginning.

It occurred to me yesterday that I should move all my HTML websites off of wesclark.com website space and start transforming them into Blogspot blogs and Google Photos photo albums. This has two advantages: (1) Eventually I won't have to pay for website space (or I pay less) and, (2) The blog and photo album pages run by Google are already mobile device friendly. (Currently my websites aren't, really, and it requires more skill with HTML coding than I have or want to make them so.) It'll take time, because I have to figure out how to make blogs seem like websites, with nested links, images, etc.

Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond are now streaming The Grand Tour (the new Top Gear) now! I'll have to watch this. Somehow.

The weather looks okay for Gettysburg tomorrow: sunny and in the 60's until about 3 pm, when there's a 40% chance of showers. Shall we go?

Have a great weekend!

17 November 2016

Wow! I'm told my book Lost Burbank is now being sold in the Burbank Costco! I didn't see that coming...

Last night's Berlin Philharmonic concert:

Jules Massenet: Scenes from his opera Le Cid - I was familiar with the first piece in this, Castillane. It is quite tuneful and popular - easy to like. (Listen.) Is that a castanet you hear? Of course it is. Concert music invoking Spain nearly always features one. However I immediately also got to like the Navarraise, the last number in the suite.

I used to have a recording of the Le Cid suite on a DBX-encoded vinyl record (the one pictured here, except with a DBX sticker on it). This was a real technological dead end from the late Seventies. But it sounded great! Almost as good as a CD. The surfaces were whisper quiet, and the loud parts were... loud. In other words, the dynamic range was excellent. You had to have a DBX box to play it; I had a DBX 122 compander. ("Compander" = compressor/expander, the technique whereby the DBX system performed its magic.) The digital revolution and CDs arrived in 1983, and that wiped away the need or desirability of DBX technology. 

The Techmoan British guy did a good YouTube video about DBX records: "The Best thing you probably haven't heard." 

The pretty castle on the album cover? It's the Alcazar in Segovia, Spain. From the Internet: "The ultimate Disney castle, the Alcazar of Segovia is just gorgeous. And such rich history. This is where Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand met for the first time and where King Philip (Felipe) the 2nd married his wife (Anne of Austria). You can visit the interior of the castle and also climb up over 150 stairs on a narrow, winding staircase to get to the Torre Juan II and enjoy views over Segovia and the countryside." I'd love to see it.  

I am back to reading James Michener's long book about Spain, Iberia. I am in the chapter about Seville (which the Spaniards call Sevilla). He describes the fascinating Easter religious processions, where Spanish women sing saetas, or emotional hymns of devotion. Here's a You Tube video of a pretty Spanish lady singing one from a balcony in Toledo - at 1 AM! Impressive. Apparently  children can sing these, too. And guys holding beers

The Gettysburg Remembrance Day Parade is going on in town this Saturday. I normally go with my pard Don, who is under the weather and begged off this year. But he might change his mind. The weather forecast for G-burg is now 66 degrees with rain. Hm. I don't think I'm up for schlepping around in the rain. We shall see. 

I finished cleaning up the Burbankia photos page; it looks much better and the various links to Google Pictures albums are now alphabetized. I probably should have done this years ago. I wish I could figure out how to display a graphical page showing all the albums. There doesn't seem to be a way...


Visual follies:

I've seen some ridiculous Batman splash pages, but this one takes the cake.


I had to stare at this one: Iron Man's left arm looks like it was amputated

16 November 2016

Adele Bloch-Bauer, aka The Lady in Gold
My report of my iPhone's death was premature. I've never let it become completely discharged before, and so have never seen how long it takes to get it fully charged from 1%. It now appears to be working. I guess I can no longer charge it while it's in the Mophie external battery - that is, charge the external battery to charge the iPhone's battery. Perhaps the Mophie is on the fritz.

Is this a First World Problem or a Second World Problem?

Last night my wife watched Woman in Gold (2015); I caught the last 40 minutes of it. Based on a true story, it's about how a woman (Maria Altmann, played by Helen Mirren) initiated a lawsuit to get back a valuable Klimt painting from Austria - she prevailed. Her lawyer was composer Arnold Schoenberg's grandson! (That's when I perked up, when I learned that.) I'll have to watch the first hour I missed; this looked like an excellent film.

I'm almost done going over the Burbankia photos page and streamlining it, transferring photos to Google Photos albums. I need to go over it and square it away - make it look better.

I'm really getting to like Detectorists, a gentle and low key BBC comedy about a group of metal detector enthusiasts living in a small village in England. There are two characters - rival metal detector enthusiasts calling themselves the "Dirt Sharks" - who appear as antagonists. Everyone comments when they first meet how they look somewhat like Simon and Garfunkel, which is funny. But what I really love is that when they appear the incidental music becomes something reminiscent of a Simon and Garfunkel hit! Hahahaha!

It's shameful of me, I know, but I admit that I've been enjoying some Schadenfreude since the election. The best video I've found of media people reacting poorly to the votes coming in (as it became obvious that Trump was going to win) is this one, a series of clips from the Young Turks broadcast. That head guy - Cenk Uygur - is obnoxious... the best part is at 1:19, when the fellow on the computer helpfully points out that along with holding the House and Senate and taking the White House, the GOP gets to determine who the next Supreme Court judges will be. It all goes downhill for them from there and they make no bones about admitting it.

It's not so much about Trump as it is seeing arrogant and smug media types get a thorough comeuppance. That makes it less hurtful and insulting, doesn't it?

15 November 2016

Last night I started watching season two of the amusing BBC comedy, Detectorists. There seems to be a running gag in this that the detectorists - two guys with metal detectors who never seem to find anything of value - are shown walking a field. They give up and go home. Then the camera pans down just ahead of where they were and shows some precious archaeological/historical find, like an Anglo-Saxon horde, or (last night), the Alfred Jewel. Hahahaha! 

I am now reading a hard cover collection of the first three Batman annuals; these were 25 cent "80 pg. GIANT" comic books from the early Sixties that were one of my chief delights when I was a kid. (I also loved the Superman 80 Page Giants.) Not only did I feel like I was getting an unbeatable value for my quarter, I also enjoyed the historical insight of reading comics from ten or twenty years prior. When Adam West was camping it up on television as Batman, I craved the grim, pointy-eared, cloaked man of mystery shown on the this early splash page from 1940.  The 80 page Giants, however, had none of that. They generally featured reprints from the late 1940's and 1950's; the Batman of artist Sheldon Moldoff. (Short eared and with a square jaw that was impossible to see on real human physiognomy.)

After two years and seven months of constant service it appears that my iPhone 5s gave up the ghost. I cannot get it to take a charge; it tries to boot up and then quits. It seems to be stuck on a 1% charge which suggests that the battery is shot. I am off the grid until I replace the phone!

Last night I watched a Berlin Philharmonic production entitled Rhythm is It! (2004). It describes the training of 250 youngsters from deprived circumstances being taught to dance Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring. It's... kind of boring, actually. 

The deal we got on the 2017 VW Beetle we bought got better last night: I drove down to the dealership to pick up a complimentary wind deflector. (A $790 or $650 value, depending upon what you believe.) Why? How? It's a long story that I shall not repeat here. I can, however, credit my wife's superior skills at writing persuasive letters and can also recommend Karen Radley Volkswagen in Woodbridge, Virginia for all your Volkswagen needs. 

I tried to watch that Supermoon last night, but it was cloudy and the moon was hidden from view. 

One bit of investigative fun I'm having is trying to identify how Splatter Canyon in Sevier County, Utah was named. It's the only Splatter Canyon in the United States and, as it turns out, in the world. The story my son-in-law told me involves animals falling or being pushed off a ledge, which sounded plausible, but I'd like to see it in writing. So far it doesn't appear to be written anywhere. 


14 November 2016

Captain Boomerang
A quiet three day weekend. I went to IHOP on Friday morning - Veterans Day - and got free pancakes by showing my DD-214, which proves I was in the service. The waitress then called over the manager, who looked at that and compared it against my driver's license to prove I'm the guy in the DD-214! It was an interesting experience... I showed more government-issued documentation for free pancakes than I was required to show in order to vote in the general election last week.

Just for kicks I am now reading The Greatest Flash Stories Ever Told, a comic book compilation by DC Comics. I liked the Flash a lot when I was a kid. How "great" are these stories?

In one of them, Captain Boomerang (a silly Australian super-villain whose shtick is throwing deadly novelty boomerangs), while in prison, develops a special boomerang that can travel through time. Got that? He becomes adept at making the boomerang go wherever he wants it to go and do whatever he wants it to do with uncanny precision. He thwarts the Flash by being with him when a boomerang suddenly materializes out of thin air, flies towards a valuable collection of jewelry, hooks it and then flies back into a hole in time, dropping the loot off at Captain Boomerang's headquarters. The Flash, being with Captain Boomerang when the boomerang materialized, cannot prove that the arch-villain is guilty of the crime. (I suspect this was the main idea pitched at the editorial meeting and the time-travelling boomerang was just the means to accomplish this. Pretty wet.)

It's hard to believe that I accepted such a thoroughly preposterous story line when I was a kid, but I did.

On Saturday we did some Christmas shopping, and spent a quiet evening at home finishing up Season One of The Crown. I thought it was pretty good... there were a lot of details about the early years of Queen Elizabeth II's reign (season one covers up to 1954) that I didn't know about.

And the work week begins...

10 November 2016

The Battle of Hastings by Tom Lovell
Happy birthday, United States Marine Corps! 241 years strong today...

So protesters are in the streets complaining about the results of the election. I would tell them the same thing I had to tell myself when the loathsome Bill Clinton achieved reelection in 1996 and the greatly disappointing Barack Obama won reelection in 2012: we only have one election process in the United States, and this was it. You shall have to abide by the results; it's what Americans do. Don't like it? Become politically active. Semper Fi!

I agree that it is hard to accept that when you vote you do not vote for the candidate directly but for the candidate's Electors - which in this case, as in 2000, meant that the candidate receiving the most votes did not win the Electoral College - but it's the only process which the U.S. Constitution provides. If you don't like it, lobby to get it changed. I have observed that there is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come; it may be that the United States election process is one day reformed. But I'm not counting on it in my lifetime. Constitutional changes are, by design, difficult to accomplish.

Donald Trump was fortunate in having two charismatic and charming ladies on his side - Diamond and Silk - who tirelessly promoted his campaign from the very beginning. Their videos were fun to watch. I don't know to what extent political patronage will benefit them, but they deserve some kind of favor, I think. Semper Fi!

And thus I dispose of the political topics at hand.

The book I am currently reading is fascinating: The Battle of Hastings 1066: The Uncomfortable Truth - Revealing the true location of England's most famous battle (2012) by John Grehan and Martin Mace. It argues that the Battle of Hastings took place not on Battle Hill or Senlac, which is the site traditionally ascribed to it and which is promoted by English Heritage, but on Caldbec Hill, about a mile north. (News article here.) Grehan and Mace do a lawyerly job of interpreting the earliest accounts of the battle with descriptions of the field; they are very convincing. I accept their conclusion.

Doesn't it seem to strange that there have never been any human remains or metal artifacts dug up on the traditional site of the battle? Normally the thing you see when you visit a battlefield site visitor's center is a display case full of artifacts, but when my son and I visited the site in 2011 we saw nothing of the sort. The traditional site is associated with an abbey which William I had built, supposedly on the battlefield site, but Grehan and Mace tear apart the argument for this based on ecclesiastical documents. And finally, the traditional site doesn't fit the description of the battle site given by chroniclers; Caldbec Hill is a much more sensible fit. So, have any excavations been done on Caldbec Hill? I haven't gotten to that part of the book yet. At any rate it's a wonderful book, one of the very best on the subject I have ever read.

I am still uploading Burbank photos to Google Pictures and adding the links to my Photos Page, which is getting shorter and shorter, as intended. It takes time.

Also, I am also continuing to rip CDs, this time classical, to make my 64 GB classical SD card. It occurs to me that having 64 GB of classical music would be kind of a cool thing to have.

Veterans Day tomorrow; I have it off. So today is like a Friday.

Have a great weekend!

9 November 2016

The 2016 results (thus far)
I am in the habit of calling myself "The World's Worst Political Pundit (tm)" because the things I say make sense but don't come to pass. I may have to revisit that title after yesterday's election!

Yours truly has been saying since summer that Trump could win this election, and - ignoring the polls - I have also maintained to family and friends late in the cycle that he will win. It has happened. Why have I had this opinion? I have been insisting all along that 2016 feels like 1980, at which point people would respond, "But Trump is no Reagan!" True. But what is similar in both cases is the media and political elite's total contempt, disregard and underestimation for the challenger, which proved to be fatal. Also, I observed that while Hillary Clinton was getting hundreds of people at her rallies, Trump was attracting thousands. The energy was clearly on Trump's side.

Also, I read an interesting and telling observation from one journalist: Trump beat sixteen of the Republican Party's most powerful candidates in the primaries fair and square and won a record number of GOP primary votes. Hillary couldn't even beat a 75 year-old socialist without cheating. She wasn't Little Miss Inevitable; she was an inherently weak candidate.

Professor Allan J. Lichtman, who has a novel set of historical predictors he calls "keys," called the election results correctly. So did the 86.4% accurate market-based indicator described on a zerohedge.com page. And I noticed that a Los Angeles Times poll has been nearly constant in predicting a Trump win despite fluctuations among the other polls. Odd. What was the L.A. Times doing that Rasmussen, Reuters/Ipsos and the others weren't doing?

The GOP victory was stunningly complete: they will control both houses of Congress and the White House - a situation that always makes me nervous as I don't like one party rule. So who did the voters forcefully repudiate last night? President Obama and his legacy (will Obamacare survive?), the non-Fox media who were campaigning relentlessly and obviously for Hillary Clinton, Hollywood celebrities, the Washington D.C. political establishment (both Democratic and Republican) and the hapless pollsters who got it dramatically wrong as they did in 1980 and 2004. I was watching RT (Russian television) early this morning and was fascinated with the gleeful denunciations of all those entities from the assembled talking heads, one of whom stated that he intended to bathe in the tears of the journalists at CNN! Another wished Hillary well in her retirement and advised her to get a good lawyer.

As I have always maintained that I follow the opposition media because they're the ones doing the important investigative journalism, I shall now load an NBC or CBS news app on my iPhone to replace the Fox one I have now.

Who does the Democratic Party have to blame for last night's defeat and total repudiation? I think Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Donna Brazile and the other high priestesses in the party's upper echelons who rigged the primaries for Hillary over Bernie Sanders in their eagerness to shatter metaphorical glass ceilings. Had they listened to the base and allowed Bernie Sanders to prevail, the situation might have been different. I believe Sanders would have won Wisconsin, Michigan and possibly Ohio.

As I have had Clinton Fatigue since the Nineties I am very glad to bid Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton, cybersecurity nightmare, farewell. I think this ends her political career. Or it ought to. And she'll be busy fighting whatever neurological illness she claims she doesn't have and also continued investigations of the dubious Clinton Foundation. Good luck with that.

For me, the good news is that Donald Trump won the election. Or, actually, that Hillary Clinton did not win the election. The bad news is... that Donald Trump won the election.

While maintaining my belief that he would win, I have also maintained that he is an inarticulate buffoon. He doesn't look or sound presidential and he is often just plain embarrassing to listen to, and, let's face it, to look at (orange skin and THAT HAIR). But Donald Trump is a highly unusual thing among go-along-to-get-along Republicans: he's a brawler. Nobody is used to that. I suspect that he could be a good president; at least this is my hope. After all, multi-billionaires do not get to be and remain multi-billionaires by being stupid or insane. They can hire good advisers to get good advice.

My apprehensions appeared in the form of a vivid dream I had last night: during a tumultuous and fearful storm a mighty bolt of lightning badly damaged a large and ancient oak tree near my house. While I wondered at the force necessary to do such a thing I feared the damaged tree would fall on my house, crushing it. I don't think I need to grasp at trying to figure out what I'm telling myself.

God Bless America!

8 November 2016

The Great London Smog of 1952
My wife and I were talking last night about how the funny little things our kids and grand kids have said have become treasured family lore, and pop up in word and phrase usage from time to time. These words and phrases reflect their innocence and charm; I think every family has a set of these. Here's our list:

Upadeets - This was my son Ethan's attempt to say "elephant" when he was two or so.

(Angrily) It's the color of an elephant! - When Ethan could say "elephant" but, frustrated, couldn't remember the name for "gray."

Popsipoom - Last year Ethan's son Gibson attempted to remember how "Popsicle" was pronounced when requesting one. He got the first part right, but pulled that last part off the top of his head. So now we call Popsicles, Popsipooms, of course.

Who is he warses? - Earlier this year poor Gibson got frustrated when looking at images of Iron Man and Captain America, and wanted to know if they were versus one another. We got this one on video.

Bome - How Gibson pronounces "bone." The leg is "chicken with a bome in it."

Sprinks - What comes out of a sprinkler? If you are my three year old daughter Julie, sprinks. "I got the sprinks on me!" Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

Maybe - This was the precocious answer grandson Hudson (not even two!) gave when we showed him a Grover doll and asked him, "If we buy this for you will you go to sleep without a fuss at night?"

I don't wike it - I once pulled Julie's thumb out of her mouth and replaced it with the other thumb. This was her opinion.

Beenips - The planet "Venus" according to Julie, age two.

I'm the little one and I'm crying - Five year old daughter Meredith (our youngest child) used this rationale for getting into the front bench seat during a family vacation car trip.

Julie vominated - Meredith's word for "vomited."

WoolVEEN - The X-Men character Wolverine, according to Meredith when three.

I hate it! I hate! I hate it! - One of Meredith's pillowcases had some embroidery on it. She said this as she scratched at the embroidery.

I'm sure there are others I can't recall. Cari can supply these in the comments section.

We've been watching the Netflix series The Crown (2016), about Queen Elizabeth II's early days, and are getting involved in it. It's pretty good, if a bit grim. An episode last night depicting the Great Smog of December 1952 was especially interesting. This was an incident in English history I didn't even know about - which doesn't happen very often. Thousands of people died as a result of respiratory problems. At first it was thought to be about 4,000. but later estimates placed the death toll at close to 12,000. Wow! I'm from Los Angeles and know a thing about inversion layers and smog, but we never had anything this bad! (Mainly because we didn't burn coal.)

I voted this morning. We shall see which revolting candidate attains power. I can't ever remember feeling so pessimistic about the future of the nation. As with other elections, it was more a matter of voting against somebody than a matter of voting for someone.

7 November 2016

Semiconductor memory is amazing!
The Big Game was Friday night, Burbank High School vs. John Burroughs High School, a cross town football rivalry that has been going on since 1949 for 67 contests.

I am happy to report that my alma mater, Burbank High School, won  36 to 7. I was on various Burbank Facebook groups reporting the play by play for expatriated Burbankers. Mike, who was in the bleachers watching the game, was sending me text messages and photos which I would relay. (We did this last year.) It was fun! One lady lives across the street from the field; she was on Facebook reading reports from Northern Virginia about a game going on across the street from her... Hahahaha! Anyway, now I need to update this page.

I did yard sales this past Saturday morning, but that's it. I - that is, we (Jane and I) - have announced the finish of the season. It begins again in March 2017. VIDEO.

We watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016) on Saturday. It was meh, not as good as the first movie. There were too many part of it that just went on too long. It's impressive that the producers got the very same cast together, however.

We also watched installments of Netflix's The Crown (2016), a well-produced drama about the early years of Elizabeth II's reign. It follows my observation about works about the British Monarchy: with even a minimum effort you're likely to have a successful project because the subject is interesting. Well... to me. My only complaint about it is that it seems excessively grim. I am aware that the Windsor household is famously staid and tradition-bound, but methinks they overdo it.

Behold above my new 64 GB microSD card. It goes into an adapter that goes into my new car radio. (It works great - instant selection and play of any one of thousands of songs.) Let's run the numbers. Right now I have 11,947 files on it (58.7 GB), of which I'd guess that at least 11,000 files are .mp3 music files. Figure 12 songs per vinyl Lp. That means this little dime-sized chip has the equivalent of about 912 Lps worth of music on it. On my shelves 100 Lps take up 14.5 inches. So 912 Lps take up about 11 feet of shelf space. The equivalent of 11 shelf feet of records on that little chip!

However, you can buy a 200 GB MicroSD card for $70 on amazon.com - it's the same size. That's about 37,300 music files, or 3,100 Lps. That's 341 feet of shelf space! I am sure that 512 GB MicroSD cards are not far off... (Right now you can buy a 512 GB SD card that is about four times larger.) You can do the math. As Paul Simon once sang, these are the days of miracle and wonder.

I am about done with CD ripping for rock and pop music. Next I do classical... that goes on another SD card. After that will I need Sirius XM satellite radio? No. (My car's radio comes with a six month subscription.)

Determined to get rid of the working clutter upstairs (paint, paint brushes, etc.), I finished painting the lavender bedroom Saturday. A nice clean coat of fresh paint makes the room look so much better... So now I have the guest bedrooms all cleaned up and re-done, ready for visiting children and grandchildren this Christmas. The next project is the laundry room.

I am in the process of turning a very long list of Burbankia linked picture files into a collection of Google Pictures albums. It'll take time (the Lockheed section alone has near 150 photos), but the effort is worth it. With an album on Google Pictures you can immediately see the images and scroll through them, then click on the one you want for a larger image. Example. Also, off-loading the images onto Google reduces the bandwidth usage on wesclark.com. I wonder if I can get all of the Burbankia material on Internet space not on wesclark.com? Hmmmm.

That's it. Short week this week - I have Friday (Veterans' Day) off.

4 November 2016

Herzog goes... INTO THE INFERNO
I had another one of my lifetime reoccurring dreams last night; this is one I've had periodically since I was a kid and for the lack of a more accurate description I call it "exploring the new place." I cannot remember any of the details of it save that it's 1965, there is a shopping plaza sort of place near where I live, and I'm there. I think there are railroad tracks nearby. (One of my first and happiest discoveries about Burbank was that there were railroad tracks were up the street, and I spent many an hour there, smushing pennies.)

Upon awakening I always remember a sense of the dream rather than the dream itself. I've been having this dream since 1965 when we first moved into Burbank, California from the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles. I was eight. It must have been an occasion of wonder for me, exploring a new home, to inspire a dream I'd have for the next 51 years! (There is another reoccurring dream that I associate with living in a new city, Burbank, in 1965, but that one involves sneaking around in people's garages and back yards and is in a different neighborhood.)

Aren't dreams odd? What could I have possibly been telling myself?

Last night we watched our grandsons Gibson and Hudson for a couple of hours while our kids did their things. These are always jolly occasions and end in watching Donald Duck cartoons from the classic era.

Also last night I watched, or, rather, snoozed through, a Werner Herzog Netflix documentary about volcanoes, Into the Inferno (2016). Herzog documentaries are always fun, but this one was a little draggy in parts. Listening to Pacific Island natives describing the gods and entities inhabiting volcanoes by way of an interpreter is not exactly riveting. I was hoping for some of Herzog's characteristic oddball, Teutonically nihilistic commentary and was not disappointed, as he described the unconcern with human affairs that volcanoes display. Werner Herzog is a curious director of documentaries in that he is at his best not when he allows his subject to speak, but when he comments upon what is being said and injects his personality into the matter at hand. In this work there are mesmerizing shots of volcanic lava bubbling around and spurting upwards explosively. (Trailer.) I need to watch this again when fully awake, to see what I missed. The North Korea sequences are stunning.

Yesterday I posted two items to Burbankia: 1957 Burbank Schools Newsletter and 1947 Industrial Arts pamphlet. The important thing about this link is not the material, but the way I now make it available, via Google Pictures. Doing it this way has a number of advantages over the way I do it now (traditional linking of jpgs stored on my own purchased disk space): (1) It's free and I don't have to buy disk space to store images, (2) It shows all of the images at once so that browsers can quickly find images of interest, and (3) It's permanent. Well - as permanent as anything is on a free Internet site.

I think I'm going to move all of my Burbank photos onto Google Pictures. It'll take a while - I have 164 of Lockheed alone! I suppose once I get all of the photos moved the next thing to do is to replace my HTML web pages with blogs (hosted for free) with the appropriate links thereupon. These days blogs and multimedia sites have replaced websites one purchases and creates. Another advantage: I don't have to worry about formatting for mobile devices. The site providers do that. For instance, you can get a mobile app for Google Pictures.

Brave New World!

This weekend - and for the next week - we're supposed to have delightful Fall weather. We'll see how many yard sales are extant tomorrow morning. But I don't care, really... it's an opportunity to get around in the new convertible Bug, which is a delight to drive.

Sadly, however, in the commuter parking lot yesterday a bird crapped upon it for the first time. Clean up and maintenance begins.

Have a great weekend!

3 November 2016

MY Captain America
Last night Cari and I watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2012). Cari thought it was tedious and I thought it was only okay. After more than two hours both of us got tired of watching things explode.

When I was eleven and a major Captain America fan, I would have loved this film. But that's when I was eleven. Now I'm an adult and find comic book movies tiresome in their repeated themes and cliches (mannish women, countdown timers, deaths that aren't really deaths, detonated cars flying through the air, etc.) - plus there's the highly improbable action sequences that seem to be inspired by the ridiculous action sequences I used to see in crappy Asian martial arts films.

Film noir - my favorite genre - also has repeated themes and cliches, but these seem to wear a lot better because they're films by, for and about adults. The thing I like best about them? Not a baseball cap anywhere in sight, unless there's a kid wearing one. These films are set in Fedora World.

Captain America also starred a superannuated Robert Redford... he needs to give it up. And I still insist that John Krasinski - the likable guy in the U.S. version of The Office -  would have made a better Steve Rodgers than Chris Evans, the guy who got the part. Here's the story of why Krasinski took himself out of the running.

When I was a kid I drew my own version of Captain America. With my instinctive sense of satire I called him Captain Russian.

Rip, rip, rip... I'm still turning CDs into mp3 files. I've got about 50 GB of music, now. I tested the SD card in my VW last night and it works just fine... I can move around in sub-directories and quickly put my finger on any music file I want. Very nice. Why didn't they put SD card readers in stereos years ago?

I'm finishing up the Burbankia slideshow for the end of this month, when we show it in Burbank. My main concern is that perhaps it's a bit too long. Perhaps I need to remove some slides. After all, this is a combined slideshow and book signing. We don't want to turn it into an endurance marathon.

MIT has created a "Nightmare Machine." In short, it takes perfectly normal images and makes them nightmarish. (Story here.) But I claim that artist Marshall Arisman has already plowed that field. Take a look. All MIT has done is created software that turns ordinary images into Arisman portraits.

Brigham out.

2 November 2016

I didn't sleep very well last night. I woke up at 3:45 AM from a horrible dream:  I had to give a slideshow presentation for my book in front of a big crowd of people but didn't have the slideshow prepared. This, for me, is an impossibility - this was merely one of those unpreparedness dreams people often get. (Most of the time it involves having to take a test for a class one has not attended.) Anyway, I couldn't get back to sleep after that. So when the alarm clock went off I dragged into work, not exactly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Rip, rip, rip... my collection of ripped music CDs is growing; I'm now at about the 35 GB level. And those are just pop and rock - I haven't even started in on classical yet. Once again, the purpose of all this ripping is to prepare a 64 GB SD music card for use in my VW. That way I don't have to bother renewing Sirius XM once I hit the six month trial buy-or-not point. I had done this collection before for another purpose years ago, but this one will be better.

Last night's Berlin Philharmonic concert:

Béla Bartók: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta - This was a very clear and lucid recent performance with Iván Fischer conducting. I am well used to this piece - it's a favorite I've known since I was a teenager - but this performance was really exceptional in that I was hearing things I've never heard before. It wasn't the piece played by an orchestras so much as it was a piece played by ensembles of instruments, and I think that's what Bartók intended. Anyway, it was wonderful. My new favorite version! I guess it takes a Hungarian conductor to thoroughly understand a piece by a Hungarian.

Zoltán Kodály: Háry János Suite - Kodály was a friend of Bartók, so why not listen to this as a second piece? This is another piece I've known since I was a teen, and, again, seeing it performed made me realize what a well-orchestrated piece it is. My favorite thing about it is that it features parts for a cimbalom, an instrument much favored in Hungary. It's somewhat like a dulcimer. Here, listen. I've had this particular intermezzo bouncing around in my head for the last week or so.

Today I'm wearing Shay & Blue Blacks Club London, a nice boozy-leathery-woody scent. I bought it in a shop in L.A. in January. I had purchased Knize Ten (a well known leather scent), but as I was in a car with a bit of it on my wrist I realized that I couldn't live with it. So I took it back and got the Shay & Blue instead. Knize Ten is the most rock and roll scent I have ever smelled. It makes me think of a biker gang in a gas station restroom: cheap hand soap and dirty leather. Oddly enough it has a dual personality in that it also smells like old, faded elegance. You'd almost expect that an unkempt and aged aristocrat might smell like this. Strange stuff.

But I think of all the hundreds of scents I have smelled the oddest is Salvador Dali Pour Homme. The top notes are incredibly musty and dry and makes me think of a shroud. It smells like death, or a mummy. It soon dries down, however, to a vague floral scent - but not living flowers. Dry flowers that contain only some of their living scent. The bottle is just as strange as the scent: one of Dali's distorted human shapes with a pair of lips as the cap. (Most of the Dali line is in weird bottles.) Who would wear such a thing? Only the bravest perfumistos - or Goths. This is what Richmond, the vampire IT specialist in The It Crowd smells like.

1 November 2016

James Michener
November! Wow. The year is ending when it gets to be November. And the years seem to be flying by...

I forgot to link my Saturday yard sale video yesterday - I did take one. Here it is. I'm looking forward to reading that Jack the Ripper book I found.

Farewell to the 2007 Beetle! I sold it yesterday. I hope it's as good to the new owners as it was for me, but now it's 80,000 miles and nearly ten years old. But it's still a fun car, riding around with the top down. I never knew I liked convertibles so much.

I priced one of those thin film protective sheets for the front bumper and hood (my 2007 has quite a few dings from rocks, etc.): a shop in Fairfax wants nearly $1,100 for the premium film! Ouch. They can do a standard 3M film job for about $900, but that's still too much. Maybe there's a shop in Prince William county that will do it for less - or perhaps I'll buy a black vinyl "bra." I watched a YouTube video on how to apply a film cover yourself... yikes. It's tricky.

Yes, I did make a Halloween video last night but, no, I forgot to upload it. I fell asleep in front of the television listening to a German language (subtitled) Berlin Philharmonic interview. This is what happens when I don't get a nap. I'll have to upload the video tonight. I went out with the grandsons and had a merry time; Halloween is so fun when the kids are only four and two years old! Afterwards we visited Grandmere's to watch Disney's Halloween Treat, something of a family tradition. And ate candy, lots of candy. Sugar-fueled as they were, I wonder what time the boys finally fell asleep.

When is white paint not white paint? When it's Benjamin Moore Cloud White and not Baer Ultra Pure White. I bought a quart of the cloud stuff and applied it to two doors in the lavender room - that's more like it. Not so intense.

I bought a 64 GB SD card at Costco yesterday for only $30, and now I'm making a song collection of ripped CDs. 64 GB will hold a lot of those! I can also use the card to record our Burbankia slideshow in the Buena Vista library at the end of the month - but I'm told that the Burbank Public Information people will also be professionally recording it for broadcast on Channel 6 (the local City channel). Maybe I won't bother. Big doins' in town, as my mother used to say.

I am now reading James Michener's Iberia, his 1968 book about Spain. As it's 939 pages it'll take me a while. So far so good... he is a famous writer because he's so easily readable. I really liked Tales from the South Pacific.

31 October 2017

2007 Bug and 2017 Bug.
Boo! Happy Halloween! You know what's really scary? Car payments. We are once again making them because we bought the new VW Beetle I mentioned last week. But it's giving my entire garage new car smell so it's worthwhile.

The 2017 Bug convertible has a curious feature over the 2007 model: While it feels heavier and more solid - perhaps a result of a somewhat wider stance? - it's also zippier and more responsive. I am now working on loading mp3 files onto an SD card that replaces a stack of mp3 music CDs I used to carry in the old car. A tiny 32 GB SD card replaces 40 compact disks! (The stereo will accept a 128 GB SD card, so that's the equivalent of about 170 compact disks.) And of course I can plug my 160 GB iPod into the system, so that's even more music. How technology has progressed with car stereos, from 8 track tapes to cassettes to compact disks to SD cards and iPods - amazing.

Over the weekend I watched another installment of the Hollow Crown series, recent adequately budgeted productions of Shakespeare's chronicle plays. This was Henry IV Part I (2012), the play which introduced Falstaff to the English-speaking world. But I have a confession: I have never really "gotten" Falstaff. Yes, I realize that's he's one of the theater's great comedic characters and beloved of Elizabethan audiences - but I've never really considered him very funny.

I admit I'm a low brow in that I do not get or fully appreciate the humor in Shakespeare. So I follow in the wake of his lines with Prince Hal, Bardolph, Ancient Pistol, Poins, Mistress Quickly and Doll Tearsheet and wonder if I just missed some 400 year-old reference to a brothel or venereal disease or some such thing. This production also stars Joe Armstrong as Harry Hotspur, a capable and handsome young actor with a nose that one cannot help staring at. I always thought that Basil Rathbone had the mightiest nose in the movies, but Armstrong certainly gives Baz a run for his money.

I finished watching all the episodes of The Pacific last night. Wow... just wow. Those Peleliu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa sequences are mind-boggling. Cinematic war has never looked so gritty, hellish and unendurable - especially on Blu-Ray and on a 4K television screen. But, as it should be, it's all in the service of furthering plot and character development. Eugene Sledge, USMC, is one of the most convincingly defined personalities in any war film. Actor Joseph Mazzello did a fine job portraying him.

ARRGHH! When is white not white? When I painted the trim in the bedroom I'm working on with some Baer Ultra Pure White semi-gloss we used in the townhouse. But now it makes the white in the background of the border along the ceiling looks dingy; it just doesn't look right. So I need a quart of Benjamin Moore Cloud White semi-gloss (a softer white which matches) to re-paint all the trim. Grrrr. But color is important in my house. Even white.

Given that our 30 November Lost Burbank book signing and slideshow is getting advertised to the hilt in town, we decided to have another "matinee" show at the library at 4 PM. Last time we had a full house at 220 people; we might be able to do that twice in one day. We shall see.

28 October 2016

Unless plans change it looks like my cheerful red 2007 Volkswagen is going to be sold to a private buyer this weekend and we'll be using the money to buy a replacement 2017 VW Convertible Beetle. The one we're looking at is the same classic red, with a beige convertible top and interior - the same color combination I have now so as to not confuse the grandsons (ha ha - they call mine the "Pop-Pop Car").

Volkswagen has added a ton of clever new features to the Bug in the last ten years: a back up camera, automatic headlights, push button start, rear spoiler, rain-sensing intermittent windshield wipers, three color LED displays on the door panels and around the speakers (okay, it's gimmicky but I like it), multi-function trip computer, seats with adjustable lumbar support, a type of VW "On Star"-like assistance service, leather shift knob and steering wheel, heated side mirrors and windshield washer nozzles(!), more storage compartments, tire pressure monitoring system, a number of active safety features (mine just had electronic stability and ABS), Bluetooth connectivity and a voice control stereo with Sirius XM, USB port, SD card slot for mp3s and an Apple apps interface. All that! They come in S, SE and SEL trim; I'm getting the SE; I don't care about the stuff included with the SEL trim. Amazingly, the 2017 I'm looking at is only about a thousand or so dollars more than it was in 2007!

The engine is more powerful; the 2017 gets 20 more horsepower from a turbo charger. I've test driven one and it is noticeably zippier. My 2007 had adequate response - this is better than adequate. The 2017 gets somewhat better gas mileage than the 2007, too. It's flatter and wider than mine, with more aggressive lines. Less like a "chick ride" (my 2007 was a design based on a circle). The convertible top mechanism seems to be improved: it is now all electric and there's no manual latch mechanism. Mine has become somewhat hinky.

Why a new car? Because my car is nine and a half years old and things are starting to fail. We generally keep cars for nine years. Also, I retire in the next 4-5 years and we don't want to be making a monthly payment then. This is likely to be my last car.

I wanted a bottle green Bug since green is my favorite color - image here, doesn't it look great in that color? - but when I sat in the car last night and looked at the red dashboard I was unexpectedly reminded of my Dad's maroon 1965 Karmann-Ghia, which had a maroon metal dashboard. It's a happy memory. So I'm content with red again.

We shall see. I shall report in Monday's blog update, okay?

I watched the Peleieu assault episode of the Pacific again last night, from a Blu-ray DVD and on a 4K TV screen. (I blogged about it in 2012.) Wow. The action and cinematography just blows me away. It's the most incredible action sequence I've ever seen in a war film.

My current book is a 1966 pictorial essay on U.S. Grant, my favorite Civil War general. It is unique in that it has an oddball photo of Grant I've never seen before, an 1875 side portrait with shaved chin and mustache.

NAEP: The Nation's Report Card - a video produced by the graphic design firm where my son works. He did all the animation line drawings (turtle, fish, shark, etc.). He is now learning how to use the animation software. Neat, huh?

The Top Ten Names that Must be from Utah - I can think of far worse than these. And I have. Click here.

As tomorrow is supposed to be a very nice day, I'll do yard sales in the bug, top down. Probably for the last time in that car!

Have a great weekend...

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Go to wesclark.com and follow the links. That'll tell you more than you probably want to know.