Monday, February 27, 2017

I never knew anyone atheltic like this while growing up. Only in graduate school did I meet someone who could do backflips.  He'd do them on the dance floor at the gay clubs, around 9 P.M., before anyone else got there.  I was enthralled and amazed.

Boys like this yanked my chain in high school and college and grad school.

The Niagara Mohawk Building in Syracuse, New York.

It is a steel frame and masonry building constructed in a ziggurat form with a seven-story tower at the center of its east-west axis. Its exterior sheathing includes brick and cast stone, black glass, and chrome. In the center of the tower above the sixth floor is a stainless steel sculpture 28 feet high and 20 feet across. The piece, "The Spirit of Light" (also known as "The Spirit of Energy"), was designed by Clayton B. Frye. It was fabricated by Mackwirth Brothers of Buffalo using a stainless steel alloy developed by the Crucible Steel company in Solvay, New York. It is believed to be the first time such steel was used on a building. The sculpture was installed by Joseph Cashier & Sons of Syracuse.

Construction of the building was begun in late 1930 and completed in 1932. It is often called an Art Deco masterpiece.

It's not clear who the architect was. We know that the firm of Bley & Lyman of Buffalo was given the commission. Some sources say co-owner Duane Lyman was the primary architect, others that it was Bley & Lyman staff architect William Lansing. Others say it was Syracuse architect Melvin King, although this seems unlikely.

The building's striking lighting was highly innovative. Helium lights (invented in 1911) supplement conventional incandescent lamps in dozens of locations. Floodlights concealed in the facade single out the head of "The Spirit of Light", while others skim the statue's wings. But the most unusual feature was in the comers and the center panels of the tower. The architects designed narrow, vertical rooms walled with tons of heat-resistant glass. Several thousand-watts floodlights were placed in each "room", making them glow at night like enormous jewels. The panels get so hot that the first drops of rain sizzle when they hit the glass.

Four sand-blasted vitrolite murals are displayed on the walls of the lobby. Vitrolite, also known as "Carrara glass", "Sani Onyx", "Sani Rox", "vitreous marble", "structural glass", and "pigmented structural glass", was invented in 1900 by the Marietta Manufacturing Co. It's not glass, but a ceramic material. It's fused at 3,000F, rolled into a slab, annealed, toughened, and fire-polished. It has the reflectivity of glass, but the toughness of stone. (Its crushing strength is about 40 percent greater than marble.) These four murals depict "Illumination", "Transmission", "Generation" and "Gas". The illustrator's name is lost. The images were sandblasted into the vitrolite, and then painted. They were manufactured by the Ettlinger Co. of Buffalo.

Goddamned handsome.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Star Wars crawl.

George Lucas had long wanted a "creeping title" (common to a lot of sci fi serials in the 1930s and 1940s), but wanted one that receded pyramidally into the background. The pyramidal crawl would echo the visuals which would come moments later.

In fact, there's a bit of a legend about the attempt to animate the crawl, only to have it fail miserably. So a physical effect was used.

Theoretically, the crawl was easy: The team used a VistaVision camera with a tilting lens (to fix focus problems), set the text almost parallel to the ground, and filmed it by running the camera up and down the text. The artwork itself is either one foot wide and four feet long (according to Ken Ralston), or two feet wide and six feet long (according to Dennis Muren). It uses up 2,000 frames of film.

The problems? The slightest blemish on the text or black background stood out like a big zit on a high school boy's forehead on the night of the prom. Glare was a huge issue. The slightest bump or movement in the camera ruined the shot. And the shot had to be lined up PERFECTLY; if the camera did not move up the text right down the middle, the pyramid effect slid off right or left dramatically.

The crew spent two weeks doing test-runs and ensuring that the dolly and the text were perfectly clean. Actual filming took three days!

FYI: Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Return of the Jedi used Univers Light Ultra Condensed for the titles of the films and "episode number", while bolded News Gothic was used for the text. For the re-releases of these three, an altered version of News Gothic was used for the titles, and bolded News Gothic for the "episode number" and the main text.

CGI was not used for the crawl until The Phantom Menace. All subsequent crawls have used CGI. Interestingly, no notes had been kept in the 1970s and 1980s regarding font, font size, etc., so the CGI artists had to recreate everything by hand.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Chris Wiggins, the banker turned actor who starred on the syndicated horror show Friday the 13th: The Series, has died at the age of 87. He had Alzheimer's.

Friday the 13th: The Series was the brainchild of Frank Mancuso, Jr. Mancuso was producer of Friday the 13th Part 2 in 1981, and continued in that rule until Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan in 1989. Mancuso and co-creator Larry B. Williams conceived of the idea of a team of three people who have to retrieve a series of demonically-cursed artifacts. The show was originally to be called Friday's Curse, but they chose the name Friday the 13th to evoke the idea of bad luck and mystery. Mancuso insists it was never intended to piggyback on the movies, although clearly it did. None of the episodes ever featured Jason Voorhees or any of the characters from any of the films.

Friday the 13th: The Series aired from October 3, 1987, to May 26, 1990. This was the great age of first-run syndication, with shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation, Freddy's Nightmares, Tales From the Darkside, Monsters, Dracula: The Series, Forever Knight, 21 Jump Street, and War of the Worlds filling schedules. Many of these series ran late at night, particularly on Saturday night. That drew a core audience of college kids and young adults, watching the shows for their cheap thrills and outrageousness before heading out to the bars. The first season was the second-most-watched in the male 18-to-49-year-old demographic, just behind Star Trek: The Next Generation, and was the fifth-most-watched in the female 18-to-49-year-old demographic. It was an unalloyed hit.

Friday the 13th: The Series spent less than $500,000 per episode. It was filmed in and around Montreal, with almost no special effects, animation, or puppetry. What few effects the show featured were done with standard, 1930s-era tricks. If you needed a plant's tendril to wrap around a woman's neck, you wound it about the actress's neck and then pulled it off. The film was shown in reverse on the air. If you needed a ghost, you projected one against a muslin screen in front of the camera.

The show was wildly popular, and that proved its downfall. A number of TV stations moved it into prime-time, where prudish anti-violence and anti-occult groups went into a tizzy. Series star John D. LeMay was so convinced he was going to be a star, that he quit the show after the second season. He was replaced in the third season by a poor-man's lookalike, Steven Monarque. Ratings plunged. The budget was cut, with lead actor Chris Wiggins making fewer appearances. Advertisers abandoned the show. Ten TV stations bowed to pressure from parents' groups, and cancelled airings.

While filming of the third season's 20th episode was under way, the show was abruptly cancelled. Although six more episodes had been written, three of which were in preproduction, none of them were filmed. The writing staff wasn't even given the chance to rewrite a few scenes or lines of dialogue to bring closure to the series. The writers were already at work on plans for a fourth season, in which the three leads would meet a secret society of occult investigators.

Friday the 13th: The Series was nominated for Emmy Awards in 1988 and 1989 for Visual and Graphic Effects. In 1990, the series was nominated by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films as Best Series.

Monday, February 20, 2017

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 when the Grand Hyatt Washington opened in 1987, The Washington Post architectural critic Benjamin Forgey called it "a cold, passionless design", noting that the architects "conscientiously [hit] a lot of the right urban design keys without creating a wholly pleasant, let alone a memorable, melody."
Damnit! :)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

He looks a big like a very young Martin Freeman, doesn't he?  In fact, he's a Russian model.

Dylan Efron, Zac's younger brother. He was born February 6, 1992, and is four years younger than Zac. He's 5′7″, about Zac's height, and Zac can't love him enough. They are always touching, embracing, hugging, caressing.


Cleanliness (and a full, heavy package) is next to godliness.

If I'd ever seen a 19-year-old this handsome, I would have disgraced and humiliated myself begging him to like me.

Friday, February 17, 2017

I started working on this article about John Mullan in May 2015. At the time, it was a shitty little piece written by someone else that had almost nothing about Mullan's explorations, his war record, or his businesses. I mean, NOTHING. It didn't mention his wife or children, and left the impression his only offspring was a bastard one-quarter Native child.

I did a fair amount of work from May 28 to July 8, and then set it aside. I needed to do more research. Then I hurt my back, and writing was hard for six weeks. By the time I turned my attention to the article again, it was January 17. I worked almost every day on it until February 15, when I finished.

Mullan is one of the most important explorers of Montana history. He's integral to the history of the state of Idaho, and was the largest land speculator in California at one time.
  • He brokered peace in the war between the Piegan Blackfeet and Salish (Flatheads).
  • He was the first white man to extensively explore Montana's Bitterroot Valley.
  • He discovered a little-known pass at the extreme head of the Little Blackfoot River, about 8 to 9 miles northwest of modern-day Basin, Montana. (These headwaters are near Thunderbolt Mountain, and the Loop Trail comes within 500 feet (150 m) of the Little Blackfoot.)
  • He discovered Hell Gate Pass, a little-known pass on the Ontario Creek Road/Telegraph Creek Road/Little Blackfoot Creek Road leading southwest from Elliston, Montana.
  • He discovered Mullan Pass, the first pass through the Rocky Mountains with an easy grade.
  • He was the first white man to extensively explore the Flathead Valley.
  • He participated in the Coeur d'Alene War, including the Battle of Four Lakes (where he led a successful cavalry charge) and the Battle of Spokane Plains.
  • He constructed the Mullan Road, the first road from eastern Montana to eastern Washington.
  • He drew the border of the Idaho Territory and Washington Territory. Mullan wanted Washington to include present-day Washington, the Idaho panhandle, and western Montana. He chose the name "Montana" to represent what is now southern Idaho, Wyoming, and eastern Montana. Although Congress threw out his map, the boundaries chosen for Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming were a direct result of Mullan's proposal. The state of Montana owes its name to Mullan.
  • He was the largest California land speculator in history. And he was the most nefarious: His land dealings were highly unethical, even illega. He got out of the business just in time; his partner later spent two years in a federal prison.
  • He successfully lobbied the federal government to reimburse the states of California, Nevada, and Oregon, and the Washington Territory, for hundreds of millions of dollars. Although Mullan was supposed to get 20 percent of this as a fee, all four entities broke the deal and stripped him of his income.
  • He led the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions from 1883 to 1887. He was the bureau's second commissioner, tripled the number of Catholic missions serving Native Americans, and got the federal government to quadruple its spending on Native American students.

He died penniless and ill in Washington, D.C. As a 33-year-old, he'd built the first road in Montana, Idaho, and Washington. As a 78-year-old, he watched the Wright Brothers fly an airplane around Fort Myer in Arlington County, Virginia.

The Mullan Road is today recognized as a National Historic Engineering Landmark.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Normally, I can't stand mega-muscle. But I love his hair, his eyes, that nose, and that leathery brown skin.  Vascularity is something I find oddly attractive, although most don't.

Laotian-American Thammanoune Si Kannalikham has been picked by the Trumps to decorate their personal quarters at the White House.

The personal quarters occupy most of the Second and all of the Third floors. The private areas on the Second Floor consist of the Cosmetology Room, Dressing Room, East Bedroom (aka East Room), Family Kitchen, North Hall, President's Bedroom, President's Dining Room, Private Sitting Room, and West Bedroom (aka West Room).

The public areas on the Second Floor consist of the Center Hall, East Sitting Hall, Grand Staircase, Grand Staircase Landing, Lincoln Bedroom, Lincoln Sitting Room, Queens' Bedroom, Queens' Sitting Room, Treaty Room, Truman Balcony, West Sitting Hall, and Yellow Oval Room.

The third floor is all private quarters: The Cedar Room, Center Hall, six Bedrooms, Diet Kitchen, Linen Room, Music Room, eight Offices, Sitting Room, Solarium/Sun Room, 10 Storerooms, and Work-out Room. (Hillary Clinton created an "Eleanor Roosevelt Room" on this floor. Marian Robinson, President Obama's mother-in-law, lived in the southwest bedroom and sitting room, and oversaw the Obama children.)

Kannalikham was born in 1977 and grew up Stockton, California. Her educational background is unclear, but she studied for a few years at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. She is a member of and regular attendee at the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, and previously worked for Ralph Lauren Home.

She is a devotee of American English, French, and Irish buildings and interiors of the 1700s. She is also a fan of the midcentury-modern furniture of William Haines, the openly gay 1920s film star turned interior decorator.

Almost nothing is known about Kannalikham. Few images of her work are available online, almost none of her clients are known to the public, and she's written nothing.
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 eight Presidents of the United States have died in office, and all but one (James A. Garfield) lay in repose or had a funeral in the East Room of the White House?

Happy birthday, Bakelite!!! This synthetic material was first synthesized in 1906, and its inventor, Belgain chemis Dr. Leo Bakeland, announces its existence on February 5, 1907.

Bakelite was used for everything from radios to telephones, silverware to dishware, jewelry to artwork, dice to cue balls. Its translucent quality made it a favorite of Art Deco and Streamline Moderne artists.

He's like a less buff, sunburned Zac Efron.

He reminds me of this guy, Paul, I once knew.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The truth of it.

I just realized: In five to seven years, my high school is going to be completely unrecognizable. A new building will connect the original high school to the fieldhouse and south campus; there will be a new industrial arts building; the current industrial arts building will be repurposed into classrooms; and there will be TWO new main entrances.

Holy shit.

1930 - GFHS built
1954 - Second-floor built on southeast wing for Band/Choir
1957 - West Grandstand built at Memorial Stadium
1963 - T-wing constructed for Business, Home Ec, History, Library, Chemistry, and Biology departments; new main entrance created
1975 - Industrial Arts Annex opened
1979 - Bison Fieldhouse & Pool opened
1998 - South Campus with 13 new classrooms opened; Wrestling Addition opened

Why would he need to advertise? One expects he gets offers all the time.

You have to wonder if a guy like this getting laid every day. Or three times a day. Most certainly, he's not celibate.

Whoever lies beneath him must be in pure heaven, just wanting that hard, toned physique pressed againt them. His cock invading like an eager piston. Wanting to give him more and more and more of yourself, every day...

The Republican-led House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to repeal the "extraction rule" -- which helps expose questionable financial ties U.S. companies may have with foreign governments.

Required by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, the rule requires companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron to publicly state the taxes and other fees they pay to governments. Major energy corporations fought for years to keep the rule from seeing the light of day. After a series of legal battles, the SEC approved the rul in June 2016.

Republican Jeb Hensarling, a human turd and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, called the rule part of "a radical leftist elitist agenda against carbon-based jobs."

He was referring to a law co-authored by Republicans and voted for by them.

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 Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site is the site of the assassination of President James A. Garfield, the Grand Review of the triumphant Union Armies after the Civil War, and the U.S. Army attack its own starving veterans in 1933 during the Bonus March?
He's gorgeous. Those eyes, that nose, that mouth, that sweet and stocky muscular body. I wish there were a lot more photos of him, and nudes at that.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

February 1, 2003 -- The Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart over Texas, after the thermal shielding on its left wing failed. American astronauts Rick Husband, William McCool, Mike Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown, and Laurel Clark, and Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, died.

Space shuttles were clad in what was jargonistically called the "Thermal Protection System". There were multiple elements to this system: Not every part of the shuttle was exposed to the same amount of heat or stress during reentry, so some elements of the system were stronger than others. Where the temperatures and stresses were highest (on the shuttle's underbelly), high-temperature reusable surface insulation (HRSI) tiles were used. The chin of the orbiter and the leading edges of its wings received less-intense heat during reentry, but were subject to even greater stresses. Here, reinforced carbon–carbon (RCC) tiles were used. These tiles, developed and manufactured by Ling-Temco-Vought (now Lockheed Martin), were very thin, just one-quarter to one-half an inch thick, and made from graphite rayon cloth impregnated with a phenol resin. There were 22 of these RCC tiles on the leading edge of each wing (usually referred to as "5-left" and "5-right", or "12-right" and "12-left".) For the areas around the cabin windows, the upper edges of the wings, and the tail, low-temperature reusable surface insulation (LRSI) tiles were used. LRSI tiles were the same as HRSI tiles, but were thinner and smaller and colored white. The remainder of the shuttle was covered in felt reusable surface insulation (FRSI), a blanket-like material similar to the fire-resistant material firefighters use.

Space shuttles were powered by an external tank and two solid-fuel rocket boosters. The external tank contained most of the fuel for the shuttle, which consisted of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. Both were extremely cold. This could cause frost and even ice to build up on the external tank, adding an immense amount of weight to the rocket. To prevent this, the external tank was covered in inch-thick foam insulation. This not only helped keep the oxygen cool, but also discouraged frost and ice build-up. Ablative thermal tiles (like those used on the Apollo missions) were attached to the upper part of the tank, where compression of the atmosphere as the shuttle reached supersonic speed created high temperatures. The solid rocket boosters didn't need insulating foam, but they did need heat and stress protection. So their nose-cones were also covered in foam.

A V-shaped strut (the "bipod strut") connected the external tank to the shuttle. Umbilical connections at each wing sent fuel to the shuttle's engines, and allowed the shuttle and tank to share data and power during ascent.

* * * * * * *

Early tests showed that as the shuttle launch system lifted off, the nose of the external tank remained relatively free from compression heating and stress. But just behind the nose, about where the bipod strut connected the tank to the nose, immense shock waves formed that created one of the hottest and most stressful environment around the tank. Moreover, airflow around the struts was complex and could cause further heat and stress.

Initially, NASA believed that the usual foam insulation around the struts would protect them. But additional testing showed this wasn't good enough. After experimenting with several solutions, NASA realized that building up the foam insulation in this area and then shaping it into a ramp-like structure could diver the shockwaves away from the struts -- protecting them.

The foam would be sprayed onto the bipod struts and fittings once the shuttle was mated to the external tank at Cape Canaveral. The foam was sprayed by hand and applied evenly. The two chemicals which made up the foam had to be mixed in an exact ratio, which meant the spraygun had to be in perfect working order and the nozzle completely clean in order for the right ratio to be sprayed. After it dried, the foam would be carved by hand into the shape of a ramp. The foam was visually inspected after carving to ensure there were no holes, cavities, or other problems.

Was visual inspection good enough? Amazingly, NASA never answered that question. They never ran tests to see if minor changes in hand-spraying technique introduced small but critical faults, fractures, or voids into the foam. They never ran tests or drills to ensure that the equipment was cleaned, prepared, and used properly. The agency never cut open any foam to see if it was, in fact, free of problems. Later tests showed that the physical shape of the bipod strut made applying the foam difficult. Both the hand-spraying and the need for the spraygun to emit an exact ratio of elements introduced subsurface defects. Some of these were fracture lines, where the foam could shear into two or more pieces under stress.

More about the tragedy behind this cut....