This and That and More of the Same: June 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"the Tramp and the orphan"

The Aero has a special Father's Day screening Sunday of 1921's "The Kid," Chaplin's sentimental comedy drama about the Tramp and the orphan (Jackie Coogan) he takes under his wing.

"King of Cool"

Over at the Egyptian, the late, great King of Cool, Steve McQueen, is being celebrated with several of his best films. Opening the proceedings Thursday is the 50th-anniversary screening of "The Magnificent Seven," John Sturges' rugged American version of "The Seven Samurai." A young McQueen plays one of the seven gunmen hired to guard a Mexican village from a brutal bandit (Eli Wallach) and his men. Also screening is the underrated 1972 Sam Peckinpah modern-day western "Junior Bonner," which casts McQueen as an aging rodeo star.

In Robert Wise's 1966 epic "The Sand Pebbles," lined up for Saturday, McQueen plays an engineer in China during the 1920s who becomes a crew member of a U.S. gunboat on the Yangtze River. It's the role for which he received his only lead actor Oscar nomination. McQueen gives another strong performance in 1973's "Papillion," which fills out the double bill. Directed by Franklin Schaffner, the drama revolves around French convict Henri Charriere.

McQueen and Sturges reunited for 1963's World War II classic "The Great Escape," screening Sunday, which chronicles a massive prison camp escape in Germany. McQueen came into his own as "The Cooler King" in this exciting thriller.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Zorro Unmasked"

Zorro, the legendary masked crusader who pulled off Robin Hood-like deeds in Old California with the flick of his sword, has returned to his old haunt. A new exhibit at Mission San Juan Capistrano highlights many famous Zorros — Douglas Fairbanks, Tyrone Power, Guy Williams and, most recently, Antonio Banderas — with costumes and props from films and the vintage TV serial. Also on display is the original "pitch book" that persuaded Walt Disney to produce the TV show based on the Zorro character. Sandra Curtis, author of "Zorro Unmasked: The Official History," will give a talk at 11 a.m. July 31 at the mission. The show, "Zorro Unmasked," runs through Aug. 31. Info: (949) 234-1300,

— Mary Forgione

Monday, June 14, 2010

"That could ruin your day"

Apocalyptic thought has a tradition that dates to the Persian prophet Zoroaster in the 14th century BC. Recently, anxiety has grown over the prediction of the end of the world in the Mayan calendar.

It's true that the Mayan odometer will hit zeros on 21 December 2012, as it reaches the end of a 394-year cycle called a baktun. But this baktun is part of a larger 8,000-year cycle called a pictun, and there's no evidence that anything astronomically untoward will happen as the current baktun slides into the next. However, that hasn't stopped the feverish speculating that sells books and cinema tickets.

What kind of catastrophe would it take to end the world? Astronomical intruders provide a potentially serious threat. Impacts can be caused by stray rubble from the Asteroid Belt and the rocky snowballs that travel in highly elliptical orbits in the comet cloud. There are many fewer large bits of debris than small bits, so the interval between large impacts is much longer than the interval between small impacts.

That's good news. Every century or so, a 10-meter meteor slams into the Earth with the force of a small nuclear device. Tunguska was the site of the last, in 1908, and it was pure luck that that meteor landed in the uninhabited wilderness of Siberia. Every few thousand years, Earth can pass through unusually thick parts of the debris trail of comets, turning the familiar light show of a meteor shower into a deadly firestorm. Roughly every 100,000 years, a projectile hundreds of meters across unleashes power equal to the world's nuclear arsenals. The result is devastation over an area the size of England, global tidal waves (if the impact is in the ocean), and enough dust flung into the atmosphere to dim the Sun and kill off vegetation. That could ruin your day.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

How old is old ??

Damascus, Syria, was flourishing a couple of thousand years before Rome was founded in 753 BC, making it the oldest continuously inhabited city in existence.

(Source unknown)

". . . first paved road anywhere. . ."

Woodward Avenue in Detroit, Michigan, carries the designation M-1,so named because it was the first paved road anywhere.

(Source unknown)

Monday, June 07, 2010

Mannheim: Established 1607

During World War II, Mannheim (as a key industrial center) was heavily damaged by U.S. and British bombing. The inner city area was practically annihilated. The first deliberate "terror bombing" of German civilians was the December 16, 1940 bombing of Mannheim. The city was occupied by the U.S. Army on March 29, 1945. There has been a large American military presence in the Mannheim area ever since (see United States military installations below).

In 2007, Mannheim celebrated its 400th birthday with a series of cultural and other events spread over the whole year. The 400th birthday proper was in 2006, since Frederick IV, Elector Palatine laid the foundations of the Mannheim citadel, on March 17, 1606. The "Nationaltheater Mannheim" was founded in 1779 and is the oldest "Stage" in Germany. In 1782 the premier of "Die Räuber" written by Friedrich Schiller was shown.

World's First Automobile

The world’s first automobile, built in Mannheim, Germany by Karl Benz in 1885

In 1955 Germany's Mannheim was home to the 2nd Armored Division and me

The Mannheim military community is located in southwestern Germany, approximately 100 Kilometers (Km)/60 miles south of Frankfurt and 25 Km/15 miles northwest of Heidelberg. Mannheim is located in the German state of Baden-Wurtenburg. This is only short distances away from great attractions such as Euro Disney and the Black Forest and other countries like France and Austria. The weather in the area is mostly like that of the northeastern states like Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. winters are cold with moderate snow and summers are hot but not as humid. The Army military units in the Mannheim community fall under the major command of United States Army Europe (USAREUR). The mission of local US Army units is predominately Signal, Transportation, and Military Police support. Also the US military confinement facility for Europe is located on Coleman Barracks. The approximate total population assigned is 15,000 which consists of: Army active duty, 4,000; Air Force active duty, 200; Army family members, 6,484; Air Force family members, 197; civilian employees and family members, 3,266 and US military retirees, 727.

The 293rd BSB supports units from every major command in USAREUR and some units not headquartered within the Federal Republic of Germany, totalling over 15,000 residents. The six major troop billets of Sullivan Bks, Taylor Bks, Turley Bks, Spinnelli Bks, Coleman Bks and Funari Bks are located in the suburbs of Mannheim. Friedrichfeld depot is located outside the town of Schwetzingen in the direction of Heidelberg.

The two major housing areas are Benjamin Franklin Village (BFV) located adjacent to Sullivan and Funari Bks in Mannheim and Thomas Jefferson Village (TJV) in Worms, approximately 20 miles north of Mannheim.

The Mannheim military community is comprised of several posts within a relatively small area in and around Mannheim. Sullivan, Taylor, and Funari Barracks, Benjamin Franklin Village housing and the military shopping area are all located within walking distance of one another in the Mannheim suburb of Kaefertal. Spinelli Barracks is approximately 10 minutes by car circling southeast around Mannheim. Coleman Barracks is located off Autobahn A6 at the town of Sandhofen, approximately 20-30 minutes by car. Turley Barracks is approximately five miles toward the center of Mannheim. Thomas Jefferson Village housing is located in the city of Worms, 30-45 minutes away. Thompkins Barracks and Friedsrichfeld depot are located just off Autobahn A565 toward to Heidelberg.

Mannheim is known as the city of quadrangles (blocks). On 17 March 1606, Prince-Elector Friedrich IV of Palatinate layed the plan for the fortified city of Mannheim with streets at right angles. The German word 'Mannheim' translates to "A place where men are at home". The city of blocks, second largest city in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg, is located at the center of the Rhine-Neckar river triangle. Mannheim and its suburbs include more than 300,000 people. The population of the greater Mannheim-Ludwigshafen urban area exceeds half a million

Downtown Mannheim in 1965.

"The Beauty of Germany"

Wanderer in the Ammergau Alps. (Click on the heading above for more)

Oberammergau and Unterammergau

Oberammergau is a village in Bavaria in Germany. The name of the village (as well as that of neighboring Unterammergau) appears in a well-known German tongue-twister:

'Heut kommt der Hans nach Haus', / Freut sich die Lies' / Ob er aber über Oberammergau, / Oder aber über Unterammergau. / Oder aber überhaupt net kommt, / ist nicht g'wiß!

Translation: 'Today Hans comes home' / Lies rejoices / But whether he's coming via Oberammergau / or else via Unterammergau / or else not coming at all / is not certain!

When will Dexter return ? ? ?

Soon we hope -- and it can't be too soon!!

"the largest expo the world has ever seen"

The World Expo also known as the World’s Fair is an event that has been around for over 150 years. It is sort of like the Olympic Games, except that instead of Sports, it’s about Science, Technology, Culture and Economics.
The Shanghai 2010 World Expo is expected to be the largest World Expo event ever held.

The goal of the Expo is to exchange ideas, promote each country's achievements and developments in improving quality of life, and to foster relations among countries.

It will be a festive meeting of diverse cultures with the country exhibits being the highlight of Expo, each showcasing their own ways of life. Countries all over the world face different challenges: environmental, social, economic, etc. Here at the Expo, is the chance to bring and share their innovative solutions. You will be able to see how people live around the world, how they deal with these challenges, all in one place.

Below: a Shanghai World Expo Building.

"The Past Returns"

Chase Bank, which now owns the former Home Savings of America chain, spent six months and approximately $400,000 refurbishing this 1974 Millard Sheets mosaic at its Rolling Hills Estates branch.

Photo Credit: Gary Kishner

Sunday, June 06, 2010

"When 'BAD' is better"

"Caprock" in Alberta's Badlands, early morning, Dinosaur Provincial Park. Alberta, Canada.

Click on the heading above to visit for more spectacular images.

The Mountain Express

You can travel all across Canada by rail but you'll have "tired eyes".

Oman toll from Phet rises to 16 as life returns to normal

Children stand near huge waves crashing into the seafront in Muscat June 5, 2010.

(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Saturday, June 05, 2010

"The mounts who lived in a manor"

From the TV glory days of "Mr. Ed," we know that horses have a lot to say if given a chance — not a surprise considering they were hard-working, come-rain-or-shine mass transit for millenniums before being run out of Dodge by Henry Ford. And don't forget the insults — horse glue, horse meat, horse trading, horse play and horse you-know-what. The sardonic Ed once remarked to Wilbur, "Some way to treat your friends who helped conquer the West."

Ed's descendents revere one Angeleno for his unfailing devotion to the hoof. Capt. William Sanford Banning was the oldest son of Phineas Banning, the Yankee booster for a Los Angeles harbor at Wilmington. Historian Tom Sitton recounts in his forthcoming history of the family that Phineas built a business running carriages and freight carts to and from the harbor. After his death in 1885, William controlled the family interests and continued to promote horse travel even as cars took over the road.

Middle-class horses bunked in barns, but Banning mounts lived in a manor. Around 1920 the captain picked up 15 acres in Compton and built Halfway House, a modest bungalow for stopping on the trip from downtown L.A. to Wilmington. His horses, however, had a veritable Monticello, a shingle-roofed, vine-covered stable with column and pediment windows. The Banning team, family to an owner who never married, looked out over a sunny garden.