Sunday, May 29, 2016

May 29, 1954 – The Bilderberg Group meets for the first time at the Hotel de Bilderberg in Oosterbeek, Netherlands. This private group of academics, businessmen, cultural leaders, industrialists, bankers, and politicians believed that the Cold War could become less dangerous if more one-on-one, personal relationships were built between leaders of the West and Soviet Union. The Bilderberg Group became the target of a wide range of conspiracy theories, particularly those which alleged the Bilderberg Group wanted to take over the world...

It gets mentioned in the animated show The Venture Bros. The reference is so obscure, however, that the closed-caption people called it the "Build A Bear Group". LOL!!!!

* * * * * * * * * *

Billy Quizboy: I don't think he's your guy...
Col. Hunter Gathers: Of course he is! All the intel points to it, damnit!
Billy Quizboy: Again with the intel! You saw what he said: He's not in the Guild of Calamitous Intent. It's like a businessman's club or something.
Col. Hunter Gathers: That's what they said about the Bilderberg Group, son. And then WHAMMO!!! Berlin Wall comes tumbling down!
Billy Quizboy: No it hasn't.
Col. Hunter Grathers: Oh, it will, kiddo. It was decided at the last meeting.
- "The Invisible Hand of Fate", The Venture Bros. (episode 3 season 3; 2003)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Obamas are going to live in the District of Columbia after leaving the White House. They want to stay until their youngest kid graduates from Sidwell Friends High School in 2018. It seems that they've rented a home at 2446 Belmont Road NW in the Kalorama neighborhood. This is one of D.C.'s most exclusive areas, and the home to a lot of ambassadors, high-powered consultants, former congressmen, and the like.

Here is The Evening Star article about the house, which was built by the real estate development firm McConihe-Whelan. The building permit for it was issued the week ending March 3, 1928. The cost of construction was $50,000, or about $700,000 in 2016 dollars. It sold in September 1929 for $90,000 or about $1.26 million in 2016 dollars.

Architect John Joseph Whelan was born in Philadelphia on April 5, 1902, and grew up in Atlantic City, N.J., where his father was a builder. He graduated from Princeton University with a B. Arch. in 1925. In 1926, he established McConihe-Whelan Inc. in Washington, D.C., in partnership with builder and Princeton classmate F. Moran McConihe. By 1928-1929, he had established his own architectural practice. Whelan specialized in large, luxurious homes for the wealthy, and embassies and consultantes. Projects include the Turkish Embassy and the Royal Norwegian Embassy.

During World War II, Whelan was a design engineer for the U.S. Navy, serving at bases in New York and New Jersey. Whelan began experimenting in low-cost, prefabricated houses in 1930. His patented houses arrived already furnished and, much like diners of his day, were ready to move in upon delivery. In 1948, two years after working on a project of prefabricated houses in Oregon, he moved his architectural practice there. Whelan died in Portland, Ore., on April 18, 1961.

Interestingly, Obama will be the first president since Woodrow Wilson to live in the District of Columbia. William Howard Taft lived in D.C. after leaving the presidency (he was Chief Justice, after all), but Wilson came after Taft. True, Taft outlived Wilson, but... As for the others?
Harding died in office.
Coolidge retired to Vermont.
Hoover retired to California.
Roosevelt died in office.
Truman retired to Missouri.
Eisenhower retired to Pennsylvania.
Kennedy died in office.
Johnson retired to Texas.
Nixon retired to California.
Carter retired to Georgia.
Reagan retired to California.
Bush I retired to Texas.
Clinton retired to New York City.
Bush II retired to Texas.
High-top socks.  That's what we used to call knee-high or full-calf socks with colors around the tops.  They were ubiquitous in adult gay film through the 1970s and 1980s and into the early 1990s.  Every guy wore them, and seeing some guy's legs in the air, clad in those socks, is still arousing.

HOLY SHIT! Fuck, he is good looking!!

Universal Studios backlot in 1931. Far back, center: The Notre Dame cathedral set (sans towers, which were added via matte painting). The set's back is facing the camera. Far back, right: The Monte Carlo set (from the 1922 film Foolish Wives).

* * * * * * *

What the Notre Dame set looked like...

How the set and matte shot came together.

Two screencaps from the legendary short documentary Heavy Metal Parking Lot. Filmmakers John Heyn and Jeff Krulik visited the parking lot at the Capital Centre in May 1986 prior to a Judas Priest concert, and talked to some of the tailgaters there.

This guy is exactly the type of guy I lusted for every single moment of every day when I was in high school and college.

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here. The article I wrote or assisted with is in bold.
Did You Know ... that the National Civil Rights Museum, which opened in 1991, underwent a $27.5 million, two-year renovation that left it in 2014 with exhibits featuring "the best and most recent scholarship on civil rights available today"?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

On April 1, 1931 -- just 47 days after the premiere of Dracula -- Bela Lugosi was cast as the Monster in Universal's upcoming production of Frankenstein. Following that, he'd star in Murders in the Rue Morgue. Interestingly, the studio didn't even have the film rights yet (they wouldn't come for a week), and it wouldn't be until late April that a director (George Melford) and scriptwriter (Robert Florey) would be assigned. Melford was quietly moved off the project in May and onto Murders in the Rue Morgue, and Florey took over. Only a five=page story treatment and bits and pieces of a script existed by early June.

It's not clear when makeup artist Jack Pierce came aboard the picture. He had Lugosi did not have a good relationship. Lugosi had insisted on doing his own makeup on the set of Dracula, leaving Pierce frustrated and angry. It's not clear what research Pierce did for Frankenstein, but one surmises that it wasn't much because he feared Lugosi would toss it all out the window and insist on his work makeup design.

Just what sort of makeup design Pierce came up with is not fully known, but there are indications he was hired in May. Only after about 2000 have three images emerged which show what Pierce and Lugosi had in mind. The first was a blank, mask-like effort which reflected the makeup design in the seminal 1920 German silent film The Golem. A newspaper report issued some three weeks later said only Lugosi's chin and eyes were visible, and that he wore 12-inch platfom shoes to make him look taller. (The Monster in the novel is nearly eight feet.) This design appeared to feature electrodes or "clamped horns" on the forehead, and would have been accompanied with a wig that had long hair down the nape the neck. The image showing electrodes at the temples probably came next. Numerous authors tell how Lugosi hated the heavy makeup, and wanted to portray a sensitive, nuanced Monster. The final design featured electrodes at the neck.

We know the neck-electrodes were the final design, because test footage of the creation scene was shot on the Dracula sets (which were still standing) on June 16 and 17 by Florey. It's possible that two different makeup designs were used, one for each day, and it's likely that a long-haired wig was used for both designs. At any rate, a stock player protrayed Dr. Victor Frankenstein, with Edward Van Sloan as Dr. Waldman and Dwight Frye as Igor. Florey's biographer claims that close to 1,000 feet of footage was shot for this test, and one of Lugosi's biographers claims 3,000 feet of footage was shot. But that seems ludicrous. A thousand feet of film is a full reel, or 12 minutes. No scene would have lasted that long! Although Florey said in 1948 that he shot two reels of edited test footage, that seems impossibly long given the state of the script and the need.

The test footage has been lost, unfortunately. But cameraman Paul Ivano said the footage depicted the creation scene. Lugosi had no lines. The big reveal came when Dr. Frankenstein lifts the sheet, and shows Lugosi's face as the actor lies on the slab. Lugosi's performance consisted of his eyes opening, a grunt, and the movement of his fingers as the Monster comes to life.

The test shoot didn't go well. Most people agree that Lugosi ranted and raved during the shoot, declaring he wouldn't be a "scarecrow" or a "grunting, babbling idiot". And yet, he liked the footage he saw and thought he'd given a good performance.

On or about June 25, When Carl Laemmle, Jr. saw the test footage. He laughed out loud at it. On June 29, Whale replaced Florey as the director of Frankenstein. On July 18, Lugosi was out.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

James Whale, the director of Frankenstein, met Boris Karloff at a Universal dinner on July 27. Within a few days, Karloff was cast as the Monster.

Pierce had continued to do research into a makeup design, being completely unhappy with what he'd come up with in the first six weeks. He studied anatomy, surgery, criminology, ancient and modern burial customs, and electrodynamics. By now, he realized that the Monster needed to look more butchered: Dr. Frankenstein was no surgeon, and no sculptor. There were just as few ways a surgeon could open the skull, and he sensed that Frankenstein would just lop off the top, remove the brain, and then seal the skull with a flat piece of metal.

For the first three weeks of August, Pierce and Karloff worked every single night in the makeup bungalow on new Frankenstein makeup. The most major changes were to get rid of the shaggy wig and to make the top of the skull flat. Other changes were minor. The neck bolts were retained, but the placement of scars on the face changed. Karloff suggested that putty be put on his eyelids to weigh them down and give his features a "dead look". He also removed his dental bridge to give his face a more hollow appearance. Karloff's makeup was given a light green tinge -- which would make the Monster appear more sallow and embalmed on black-and-white film. (Unfortunately, this means that color films have tended to make the Monster's face green.)

Some experiments were tried, such as giving the Monster the "clamped horns" which had been tried on Lugosi. Another experiment was to darken one of Karloff's cheeks with black powder to give an imbalance to the Monster's features and make him appear to have been burned or partially rotting. But these were jettisoned.

Karloff, much taller than Lugosi, still needed platform shoes (six inch ones) to make himself look taller. Karloff asked that the boots be weighed down with lead to make his walk more stilted. When that didn't create the desire effect, he strapped steel leg struts (like those used on polio victims) to inhibit his walk and make him lurch about.

When the design was finished, a cast was made of Karloff's head and shoulders. Pierce then crafted several headpiece prosthetics which could be applied to Karloff's skull and help speed the makeup process. Nevertheless, it still took nearly three hours to apply and an hour-and-a-half to remove. The weighted shoes, leg struts, and padded costume weighed 48 pounds (13 pounds alone in each boot).

Images from the Cleveland Asian Festival!

sugar cane drink boy - Cleveland Asian Festival

food vendors - Cleveland Asian Festival

frying octopus - Cleveland Asian Festival

dragon pencil - Cleveland Asian Festival

dragon incense burners - Cleveland Asian Festival

dragon head - Cleveland Asian Festival

dragon bowl - Cleveland Asian Festival

sumo wrestling - Cleveland Asian Festival
Ryan Patterson, who holds dual South African and American citizenship, became the first male South African gymnast to qualify for the Olympics in over 50 years. A senior at Cal-Berkeley, he's off to Rio in about 70 days...

The Brits get ready for the Olympic games in Rio...

Civil War Unknowns Memorial - looking NE - Arlington National Cemetery - 2011

As we approach Memorial Day.... This is the Civil War Unknowns Monument.

It is located on the grounds of Arlington House (the Robert E. Lee Memorial) at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia.

Robert E. Lee vacated Arlington House on on April 20, 1861. Mary Custis Lee vacated the property on May 14, and the armed forces of the United States occupied the house and grounds on May 24. On January 11, 1864, the estate was formally seized by the U.S. government for nonpayment of taxes. The first military burial on the grounds occurred on May 13, 1864, and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton approved the establishment of a military cemetery on June 15. Quartermaster General of the Army Montgomery C. Meigs was a native Georgian, but loyal to the United States. Once a close friend of Lee's, Meigs considered him a traitor for joining the armed forces of the Confederate States of America. Determined to desecrate the grounds of Lee's estate and render the home uninhabitable, Meigs began burying large numbers of war dead on the grounds of the house and throughout the estate.

Arlington House sits on a ridge that is in the form of a reverse capital letter "L", with the short leg running northest-southwest and the long leg running northeast-southwest. A flower garden was at the intersection of these two legs. Here, the Lee girls raised flowers for sale as nosegays in Georgetown, and the family built a gazebo in the center of the garden where they could sit and stay cool. (Contrary to popular belief, the Lees never had a rose garden.) At the far southwest end of the short leg of the ridge was a copse of wild trees and a dense bed of wildflowers.

Meigs had already ringed the Lee flower garden with the graves of more than 100 dead Union officers. He now decided to build a monument to Civil War dead in the center of the copse of trees. His goal was to make it politically impossible for the Lees to remove this mass grave.

U.S. Army troops were dispatched to investigate every battlefield within a 35 mile radius from the city of Washington, D.C. The bodies of 2,111 Union and Confederate dead were collected, most of them from the battlefields of First and Second Bull Run as well as the Union army's retreat along the Rappahanock River. Some of these bodies had been interred on the battlefield, but most were full or partial remains discovered lying in the open on the field of battle. None were identifiable.

U.S. Army engineers cut down most of the copse, and dug a circular pit about 20 feet wide and 10 feet deep into the earth. The walls and floor were lined with brick, and the pit was segmented it into compartments with mortared brick walls. Into each compartment were placed a different body part: skulls, legs, arms, ribs. The vault was half full by the time it was ready for sealing in September 1866. The vault was then sealed with a roof of concrete and covered with soil. Meigs personally designed a six-foot-tall, 12-foot-long, four-foot-wide grey granite and concrete cenotaph to rest on top of the burial vault. The cenotaph consisted of two long light grey granite slabs, with the shorter ends formed by sandwiching a smaller slab between the longer two. On the west face was an inscription describing the number of dead in the vault below, and honoring the "unknowns of the Civil War".

Originally, a Rodman gun (a light field artillery cannon) was placed on each corner, and a pyramid of shot adorned the center of the lid. A circular walk, centered on the monument, and sidewalks leading east and west provided access to the site.

Some time before or during 1893, the original monument was radically changed. The plain sarcophagus walls were replaced with more ornate ones, although the inscription was retained. The origina plain lid was replaced by one modeled after the Ark of the Covenant described in the Book of Exodus in the Hebrew Bible. The Rodman guns were removed from the lid and now inserted muzzle-down into the earth, and the large pyramid of shot was removed. Four small pyramids of shot were placed on either side of the east and west pathways leading to the memorial. The memorial was also raised off the earth onto a slightly larger base of rough-hewn dark grey granite blocks mortared together. This base is three stones high, or about 3 feet. A second base of large light-grey granite slabs about a foot high was placed on top of the first base. A third base, consisting of a single light grey granite slab, was installed above the second base. This third base was slightly smaller than the first two, but slightly larger than the memorial itself. Four light grey granite sections about six to nin inches high sat atop the original sides, decorated with pilasters. Like the walls of the sarcophagus, these consisted of two long, unbroken sections with smaller sections inserted between them at the ends. These sections were mortised, so that all four sections appear to meet at the corners. A slightly larger light grey granite base flared out above the pilaster section. Unlike the lower section, longer sections were sandwiched between the end sections. The new cover of the sarcophagus consisted of a single large light grey granite slab. Twenty-two bas-relief stars inside circles were added above the lip of the lid. Four stylized, partial fleur-de-lis faced outward at each corner. The top of the lid was rounded. The entire monument was now about 12 feet high at the uppermost portion of the lid.

The monument has retained its 1893 form ever since.
There isn't much nudity here, but then some things are erotic on their own.

Wow. Talk about tits!  His beg to be licked and twisted.

YAY!!!!!!! The article I wrote, about the Remington Rand strike, is on the "On This Day" section of the front page of Wikipedia for May 25.

In a landmark decision, the National Labor Relations Board called the Mohawk Valley formula "a battle plan for industrial war."

Sunday, May 22, 2016

So nice to see a tall, lanky, broad-shoulder young stud trying to hide the large, powerful erection he has by lying face-down.

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here. The article I wrote or assisted with is in bold.
Did You Know ... that for the production of the 1959 film Ben-Hur, uncredited assistant director John Dunning hired Italian extras who had missing limbs, then had the makeup crews rig them with fake bone and blood to make it appear as if they had lost a hand or leg during the sea battle?
He wants something. Big, husky, powerful guy with fantastically muscled legs.  And he wants something...  (His grey-shirted buddy probably does, too!)

Terminal Tower, Cleveland, Ohio.

red-lit Terminal Tower
In one of the tunnels beneath the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in Public Square in Cleveland, Ohio. The architect and sculptor Levi Scofield designed the memorial. The tunnels are only slightly below-ground, and allow inspection of the key pedestals and foundation elements of the monument.

tunnel 04 - Soldiers and Sailors Monument - Cleveland

Friday, May 20, 2016

The heavy increase in downtown apartment housing, coupled with strong new housing developments, has slowed Cleveland's population drain.

Meanwhile, Cleveland Heights continues its population loss, and falls below 45,000 residents for the first time since the mid-1920s. And it's accelerating...

Cleveland Heights had a population in 2010 of 46,153. Then fell to 45,810 in 2011 (loss of 0.74 percent), to 45,596 in 2012 (loss of 0.47 percent), to 45,411 (loss of 0.41 percent), to 45,205 (loss of 0.45 percent) and now to 44,962 in 2015 (loss of 0.54 percent). Total loss since 2010 is 2.58 percent.

For a city the size of Cleveland Heights, that's appallling, It means far less in city income tax revenues, and dropping housing prices. Lower housing prices means a precipitous drop in property tax revenues. As housing prices drop, they become affordable to people making less money -- and income tax revenues drop again. People making less money don't have the funds to take care of their homes as they wish to, and property values fall even more.

It's a vicious downward cycle. Yet, the Cleveland Heights City Council seems to be blissfully unaware of this....
He's like a big, furry, golden teddy bear. Wish I could see the whole package....

When I'm home watching movies, I like to haul out my Warner Bros. cartoon collection and watch a cartoon before the picture. Tonight's short was "Feed the Kitty".... featuring Marc Anthony!

I'm gonna name my dog Marc Anthony....

I adore Colton Haynes. Poor boy is suffering... After most of his life in the closet, he's finally come out.
"The truth is, Haynes has been out for most of his life -- in high school, to his family and friends, to his cast members, to his Hollywood bosses (like Arrow creator Greg Berlanti, now one of his closest mentors). But as a green transplant in Hollywood in 2006, he wasn't any more immune to the town's well-chronicled discomfort with LGBT identity."
Yeah, believe that if you will. Fact is, the pressure to stay closeted has pushed him into alcoholism and drug addiction. It'll very very, very hard for him to change that and find a new path. I hope he makes it.

I know Splendour in the Grass is supposed to be about the intensity of love, an attack on traditional (read: repressive) morality, and all that.

But instead, I see (a) a story about a mentally unbalanced 18 year old girl who goes bonkers the one time she falls in love; and (b) a goofy story about a guy who gets pneumonia because he can't have sex.