What I See ~

“…Orgy of Color, Sound, and Imagination.”


Fantasia Released

Disney released its masterpiece, Fantasia, November 13, 1940. Unprecedented for its time, Fantasia went on to become the 22nd highest-grossing film of all time (as of 2012 – adjusted for inflation), and ranked the 58th greatest film by the American Film Institute.  [click images to enlarge]



The film is eight classical pieces set to animation; from abstract art (Toccata and Fugue in D Minor) to the classic Mickey Mouse as The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Bordering on the controversial, The Rite of Spring depicts evolution of life on earth from the formation of the planet to the first living things to the extinction of the dinosaurs. Humans were purposely left out of the animation to skirt even more controversy from the staunch religious beliefs of the 1940s.

Clip from The Rite of Spring


Leopold Stokowski

Conducted by Leopold Stokowski, seven of the pieces were performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra. Stokowski, who by the way abhorred the segregation of women and minorities in symphony orchestras, was recognized as one of the greatest conductors of the twentieth century and the father of the modern orchestral standards.

Fantasia was the first commercial film to be released in stereo. Disney called it Fantasound, designed by the Disney engineers. Fantasound eventually led to the development of “surround sound”.

Stokowski conducting

Stokowski conducting

Because of the requirements of Fantasound and its initial label as a “longhaired musical”, Fantasia was only exhibited in a limited run called a “roadshow attraction”. The first of which opened at the Broadway Theatre in New York on November 13, 1940.

Ticket demand was so high that eight telephone operators were hired to handle the demand. The Broadway rented out the next-door adjoining store to handle box office bookings. The Broadway ran Fantasia for forty-nine consecutive weeks, the longest run for a film at the time. Its run continued for a total of fifty-seven weeks.



Disney re-released the movie several times but I first became aware with its 1969 release. At the time it was promoted as a psychedelic event becoming popular with college students; some of who were reported to have taken drugs for the experience. No way… really?

Animator Ollis Johnson recalled that, “young people thought we were on a trip when we made it … every time we’d go to talk to a school or something, they’d ask us what we were on.”

The film received many accolades. Critic Edwin Schallert of the LA Times “considered the film to be a magnificent achievement in film which would go down in film history as a landmark film.”

Dance Magazine said that, “the most extraordinary thing about Fantasia is, to a dancer or balletomane, not the miraculous musical recording, the range of color, or the fountainous integrity of the Disney collaborators, but quite simply the perfection of its dancing.”

Clip from Hippo and Crocks:

Mae Tinee of the Chicago Tribune felt the film was “beautiful … but it is also bewildering. It is stupendous. It is colossal. It is an overwhelmingly ambitious orgy of color, sound, and imagination.”

Roger Ebert rated the film four stars out of four, and noted that throughout Fantasia, “Disney pushes the edges of the envelope.”


Fantasia was selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being, “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.CHERNABOG-GIF

For me, Fantasia opened the door to the love and appreciation of classical music. Sure there was Bugs Bunny, but really… what’s up Doc.

Fantasia Musical score

  • Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
  • Nutcracker Suite
  • The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
  • The Rite of Spring
  • The Pastoral Symphony
  • Dance of the Hours
  • Night on Bald Mountain
  • Ave Maria

On a side note, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was inspired by the poem, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. If you’re interested here is a link to the poem: http://germanstories.vcu.edu/goethe/zauber_e3.html

Dedicated To World Peace


Veterans Day

article-2226235-0f7f8d0300000578-696_964x682“The War to End all Wars”, World War I, officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed. However, that doesn’t reveal the “real” end of WWI, as fighting ended seven months earlier on… the eleventh hour… of the eleventh day… of the eleventh month, November 11, 1918. [click images to enlarge]


The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was over 38 million: over 17 million deaths and 20 million wounded, ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history.

The U.S. Congress officially recognized the end of WWI passing a resolution on June 4, 1926:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and…


Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and…

Joseph Ambrose, an 86-year-old World War I veteran, attends the dedication day parade for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. He is holding the flag that covered the casket of his son, who was killed in the Korean War.

Joseph Ambrose, an 86-year-old World War I veteran, attends the dedication day parade for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. He is holding the flag that covered the casket of his son, who was killed in the Korean War.


Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday:

My Dad

My Dad Nicholas

Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

An Act approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday ~ a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace.

legacy technology

Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.




Sax Has 8 Lives


Sax Born


Adolphe Sax

The sax was born today, actually Adolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone was born today in 1814. Consider what Adolphe would he think of how his creation has influenced jazz?

Adolphe Sax was a Belgian inventor and musician whose parents were instrument designers. It came as no surprise that Adolphe would be interested in design himself.

Young Adolphe began making his own instruments at an early age entering two of his instruments into a competition at age 15. His big success came when he attached a clarinet mouthpiece to his brass creation and named it the saxophone. Playing the flute and clarinet himself, it was no surprise that the sax has the same basic fingering as those two instruments.

The saxophone was patented on 28 June 1846. Thinking he was on to something, he also created the saxotromba, saxhorn and saxtuba.








8 Lives

This is crazy but young Sax faced several near-death experiences. His mother once said that, “He’s a child condemned to misfortune; he won’t live.”

  1. He once fell from a height of three floors, hitting his head on a stone. He could barely stand after that!
  2. At age three, he drank a bowl of vitriolized water (vitriol – term used for sulfuric acid) then later swallowed a pin.
  3. He seriously burnt himself in a gunpowder explosion.
  4. Falling into a frying pan he burnt one side of his face, ouch!
  5. He escaped poisoning, suffocation and death while sleeping in his bedroom where freshly varnished items were kept to dry overnight.
  6. Poor young Sax survived being clobbered in the head with a cobblestone. Say that fast three times.
  7. Finally, he fell into a river only to be saved by the skin of his teeth.

Guess you could say he was one of the first to be stoned on acid (thanks Lance).


Coleman Hawkins

Coleman Hawkins

The transition from orchestral instrument to jazz came through the dance bands of the early 1900’s. Coleman Hawkins’ stretch with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra in 1923 is often attributed as the arrival of the tenor sax to jazz.

Sidney Bechet

Sidney Bechet

One of the first soloists of sax in jazz, some say the first notable jazz saxophonist, was Sidney Bechet (May 14, 1897 – May 14, 1959). WIth a forceful delivery, he played well constructed improvisations with his characteristic vibrato.

The Father of Jazz Soprano Sax – Sidney Bechet

Stormy Weather

Of course this could be debated but here is Westworld’s  (Westworld online magazine) great take on the ten best saxophonists of all time… with ten great examples. http://www.westword.com/music/the-ten-best-saxophonists-of-all-time-5697660


A bench outside Adolphe Sax house, located in Dinant, Belgium, the statue of the maestro himself.


Never Met a Man…


Happy Birthday Will

Born today, November 4, 1879 William Penn Adair “Will” Rogers was our most famous American during the 1920’s and 30’s. As a humorist, columnist, social commentator and American Cowboy, Rogers expressed the views of the “common” man from will-rogers-rope-archival-photo-movie-poster-printa non-partisan viewpoint. He became a friend of presidents and confident of the great. He downplayed academic credentials, noting, “Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.” [click images to enlarge]

Born on a ranch in Cherokee Indian territory and being a quarter Cherokee he would quip, “that his ancestors did not come over on the Mayflower, but they met the boat.”

Amazing that as a 10th grade dropout he wrote seven books, a regular newspaper column (he wrote more than 4,000 nationally syndicated newspaper columns),  thousands of newspaper articles, magazine articles and short commentaries called “daily telegrams”. He also made 48 silent movies, and 21 feature films including the first talking version of Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurs Court.

Will Rogers in famous vaudeville promotional photo.

Will Rogers in famous vaudeville promotional photo.

By the mid 1930’s Rogers had become a world famous figure, adored by the American people, the leading political wit of his times, and was a top payed Hollywood movie star to boot.

Cracking up Roosevelt

Cracking up Roosevelt

Rogers was a staunch Democrat, but he also supported Republican Calvin Coolidge. Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt was his favorite and though he supported Roosevelt’s New Deal, he could just as easily joke about it:

Lord, the money we do spend on Government and it’s not one bit better than the government we got for one-third the money twenty years ago.

Always the wit, he called the Supreme Court justices, “those nine old gentlemen in kimonos”, when they struck down the New Deal legislation.


He relentlessly ridiculed Prohibition, warned American they were living beyond their means in 1920, just before the Great Depression, and predicted Germany re-emergence as a world threat.

Not being one to just sit by, he became pissed at Washington’s ineffectiveness in feeding people during the Great Depression. embarking on a cross country fundraising tour for the Red Cross.


Rogers, who loved to fly, was a friend to Charles Lindbergh and became an advocate for the aviation industry. On August 15, 1935 he and famous pilot Wiley Post were planning to fly from Fairbanks to Point Barrow Alaska, the northern most point in Alaska. They weren’t far from Point Borrow when, not being sure of where they were, landed in a lagoon to ask directions. When they took off the motor failed and at such a low altitude with no room for error, they crashed into the lagoon ripping off the right wing and ending up inverted in the shallow water. Both men died instantly.


Will Rogers on the wing with Wiley Post in front of plane

Will Rogers 2

The crash site

When I die, my epitaph, or whatever you call those signs on gravestones, is going to read: “I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I dident [sic] like.” I am so proud of that, I can hardly wait to die so it can be carved. ~ Will Rogers

In his own words:

  • There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.
  • Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
  • Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.
  • Everything is funny, as long as it’s happening to somebody else.
  • The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.
  • Why don’t they pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting anybody from learning anything? If it works as well as prohibition did, in five years Americans would be the smartest race of people on Earth.
  • We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others.
  • You’ve got to go out on a limb sometimes because that’s where the fruit is.
  • People’s minds are changed through observation and not through argument.
  • Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
  • Prohibition is better than no liquor at all.
  • You can’t say civilization don’t advance… in every war they kill you in a new way.
  • Let advertisers spend the same amount of money improving their product that they do on advertising and they wouldn’t have to advertise it.
  • When the Oakies left Oklahoma and moved to California, it raised the I.Q. of both states.
  • It’s a good thing we don’t get all the government we pay for.
  • I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.
  • Diplomacy is the art of saying ‘Nice doggie’ until you can find a rock.
  • The man with the best job in the country is the vice-president. All he has to do is get up every morning and say, ‘How is the president?’
  • The income tax has made liars out of more Americans than golf.
  • Politics has become so expensive that it takes a lot of money even to be defeated.
  • Things in our country run in spite of government, not by aid of it.

This is funny: 



Scares The Pants Off…


October 30, 1938: Orson Welles Scares the Pants Off Nation

Orson Welles broadcasts his radio adaptation of H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds, which caused panic among 25 percent of the 6 million listeners who believed the theatrical presentation was a real news broadcast. War of the Worlds is one of the most famous radio broadcasts in history.



welleswarMany people in the audience missed the repeated notices about the broadcast being fictional. Listeners began tuning in after a Chase and Sanborn comic sketch ended and a musical number began. According to the American Experience program, Welles knew the schedule of Chase and Sanborn and scheduled the first report from Grover’s Mill at the 12-minute mark to heighten the audience’s confusion.

As a result, some listeners happened upon the CBS broadcast at the point where the Martians emerge from their spacecraft. Because the broadcast was unsponsored, Welles and his crew could schedule breaks whenever they wanted rather than structuring them around required advertisements. As a result, the only notices that the broadcast was fictional came at the start of the broadcast and about 40 and 55 minutes into it.


Studies by historians calculated that some 6 million heard the CBS broadcast and 1.7 million believed that is was true and orson_welles_cbsactually happening. Digging deeper they found that around 1.2 million were “genuinely frightened”. 26% of the people were scared out of their wits.

In the aftermath of the reported panic, CBS responded to public outcry by pointing to reminders throughout the Orson Welles broadcast that it was a performance. Welles and Mercury Theatre escaped punishment but not censure; CBS is believed to have had to promise to never use “we interrupt this program” for dramatic effect. Nevertheless, even to this day, many radio and television commercials start with the phrase, “We interrupt this program…”.

Many listeners sued the network for “mental anguish” and “personal injury”. One frightened woman sued CBS for $50,000 claiming “nervous shock”. All suits were dismissed, except for the claim for a pair of men’s black shoes (size 9B) by a Massachusetts man who said he spent the money he had saved to buy those shoes. He spent the money to buy a train ticket to escape the Martians. Welles insisted the man be paid.



Robert H. Goddard

The Martians travel to the Earth in cylinders fired from a huge space gun on the surface of Mars. This was a common representation of space travel in the nineteenth century. Although our modern scientific understanding renders this idea impractical, 16 year old Robert H. Goddard was inspired by the H. G. Welles story and spent much of his life inventing rockets. The research into rockets begun by Goddard eventually culminated in the Apollo program’s manned landing on the moon.


Goddard towing a rocket in Roswell

The Cherry Tree Dream[1]

His dedication to pursuing space flight became fixed on October 19, 1899. The 17-year-old Goddard climbed a cherry tree to cut off dead limbs. He was transfixed by the sky, and his imagination grew. He later wrote:

Robert Goddard, bundled against the cold weather of March 16, 1926, holds the launching frame of his most notable invention — the first liquid-fueled rocket.

Robert Goddard, bundled against the cold weather of March 16, 1926, holds the launching frame of his most notable invention — the first liquid-fueled rocket.

   On this day I climbed a tall cherry tree at the back of the barn … and as I looked toward the fields at the east, I imagined how wonderful it would be to make some device which had even the possibility of ascending to Mars, and how it would look on a small scale, if sent up from the meadow at my feet. I have several photographs of the tree, taken since, with the little ladder I made to climb it, leaning against it.

   It seemed to me then that a weight whirling around a horizontal shaft, moving more rapidly above than below, could furnish lift by virtue of the greater centrifugal force at the top of the path.

   I was a different boy when I descended the tree from when I ascended. Existence at last seemed very purposive.

For the rest of his life he observed October 19 as “Anniversary Day,” a private commemoration of the day of his greatest inspiration.

He has been called the man who ushered in the Space Age and came to be recognized as the founding father of modern rocketry.

Dr. Robert Goddard and colleagues holding the Rocket used in flight of April 19, 1932.  They are from left to right, L. Mansur; A Kisk; C. Mansur; Dr. Robert Goddard; and N.L. Jungquist. NASA Copyright Notification General Conditions NASA materials may not be used to state or imply the endorsement by NASA or by any NASA employee of a commercial product, service or activity, or used in any other manner that might mislead. NASA should be acknowledged as the source of its material. It is unlawful to falsely claim copyright or other rights in NASA material. NASA shall in no way be liable for any costs, expenses, claims or demands arising out of use of NASA's cassettes and photographs by a recipient's distributees. NASA personnel are not authorized to sign indemnity or hold harmless statements, release from copyright infringement, or documents granting exclusive use rights. Photography Photographs are not protected by copyright unless noted. If copyrighted, permission should be obtained from the copyright owner prior to use. If not copyrighted, photographs may be reproduced and distributed without further permission from NASA. If a recognizable person appears in a photograph, use for commercial purposes may infringe a right of privacy or publicity and permission should be obtained from the recognizable person. Contact If further information or assistance is needed, you may contact: Rebecca Roth Imaging Coordinator, Office of Public Affairs NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Phone: (301) 286-2270 rebecca.roth@nasa.gov


If you have the time this is so cool, it’s about an hour long.

Now THAT’s What I Call Polka!

smaller still

The Saga Begins

Alfred Matthew Yankovic was born today, October 23, 1959. Happy Birthday Weird Al.

Yankovic’s parents, Nick and Mary, were approached by a door to door salesman traveling through Lynnwood, CAuntitled where they were living at the time. The salesman offered the Yankovic’s a choice between accordion or guitar lessons at a local music school. Al said, “his parents chose the accordion because they were convinced it would revolutionize rock.” [click images to enlarge]

Al’s first accordion lesson was on the day before his sixth birthday… and the saga began.

Weird Al aired his first comedy song in 1976. Since then he has sold more than 12 million albums, earned four Grammy Awards (with 11 more nominations), four gold records and six platinum records.


He states his influences as Tom Lehrer, Stan Freberg, Spike Jones, Allan Sherman, Shel Silverstein and Frank Zappa. But especially Dr. Demento’s Radio Show. His other sources of comedy inspiration came from Mad Magazine, Monty Python and the Zucker, Abrahams, Zucker parody movies; Airplane, TV series Police Squad, films Top Secret, Ruthless People and The Naked Gun.

When Yankovic was 16, Dr. Demento came to speak at Al’s high school. Yankovic gave Demento a homemade tape of one of his original parody songs recorded on a shoddy cheap tape recorder. The song was “Belvedere Cruisin” a joke about his family’s Plymouth Belvedere.

Demento played it on his show and got great response from his listeners. That was the launch of Weird Al’s career.

Belvedere Cruisin’ – Alfred Yankovic [Home Demo – Early 1976]

tn2_weird_al_yankovic_2_6Weird Al graduated high school in 1975 and was the senior class valedictorian. In 1979, just before his senior year as an architecture student at Cal Poly, he recorded a take-off of “My Sharona” by The Knack. He took his accordion into the restroom because he liked the acoustics and recorded “My Bologna”.

Dr. Demento played the tape of “My Bologna” Al sent him to an even greater response from his listeners. Al met The Knack after a show at his college and spoke with lead singer Doug Fieger who had heard Al’s version of “My Bologna”. Doug loved the song and introduced Yankovic to Capitol Records Vice President, Rupert Perry, who signed Al to a six month recording contract. “My Bologna” was released on December 25, 1979 with “School Cafeteria” on the B-side.

Weird Al Yankovic – 1979 – My Bologna

Yankovic got his first hit on the Top 40 radio charts in 1983 with his parody of Joan Jett’s, “I Love Rock and Roll” – “I Love Rocky Road”.


The single “Eat It”, a parody of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1984. The music was an uncanny shot by shot spoof of Jackson’s music video. “Eat It” was the highest charting Yankovic hit until “White and Nerdy” in 2006.


This is great. April 21, 1981, Al’s parody of “Another One Bites the Dust” is so popular he makes his first television appearance on The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder. Here he is doing, “Another One Rides the Bus”. Listen for Snyder’s iconic laugh.

“Weird Al” Yankovic – Another One Rides the Bus on the Tom Snyder Show

Weird Al is rooted in polka music so most of his studio albums and his live shows include a medley of contemporary songs juxtaposed for comedic affect as we hear at the top of this article. Yankovic has been known to say that converting these songs to polka was “…the way God intended”.AlYankovicByKristineSlipson

Rolling Stone’s Top Ten Weird Al Songs

  1. The Saga Begins’0
  2. Trapped in the Drive Thru’hqdefault
  3. Word Crimes1406108738896_cached
  4. I Lost on Jeopardytumblr_myr42p6aI11tooympo1_500
  5. Like a Surgeon’9CABA133F11768763801CB29D6EE2E7D
  6. Smells Like Nirvanasmells like
  7. White and Nerdywhite andt
  8. Amish Paradiseamish
  9. Eat Itfat
  10. Fat4533


A couple shots from my last Weird Al show at SummerFest, Milwaukee, 2015 with my daughter Nicki.

$T2eC16hHJF0E9nmFTLzOBQD5KPi7cw~~60_1 11703256_10153408679615539_7831941250958677032_o

Now For Something Completely Different

nude organist 2

Monty Python’s Flying Circus First Broadcast

It was October 5, 1969 when something completely different was cast upon the world – Monty Python’s Flying Circus. They became known as the Beatles of Comedy and popularized a form of humor impossible to categorize. It has been called “surreality” humor. Defined by Wikipedia as:

… a form of humor predicated on deliberate violations of causal reasoning, producing events and behaviors that are obviously illogical. Constructions of surreal humor tend to involve bizarre juxtapositions, non-sequiturs, irrational or absurd situations and expressions of nonsense.

The humor arises from a subversion of audience’s expectations, so that amusement is founded on unpredictability, separate from a logical analysis of the situation. The humor derived gets its appeal from the fact that the situation described is so ridiculous or unlikely.


The shows were broadcast on the BBC with 45 episodes in four series from October 5 1969 until 1974. Often targeting the idiosyncrasies of British life, the Python’s loved that their humor was impossible to categorize and succeeded so well that the adjective “Pythonesque”, was invented to define it.


These were highly educated men throwing intellectualism to the way side. Terry Jones and Michael Palin were Oxford grads. Eric Idle, John Cleese and Gram Chapman attended Cambridge University. American born Terry Gilliam graduated from Occidental College. With references to philosophers and literary figures the uninitiated found it hard to keep up. American audiences had to work through the British accents.eeb3091b60327db98fdb61472cba13fb-the-minister-of-silly-walks-monty-pythons-flying-circus

The Python’s did not work as a group on a daily basis. Normally, Cleese and Chapman worked as a pair, so did Jones and Palin. Idle wrote alone as did Gilliam with his animations, camera, scissors and airbrush. After a few days they would join together to critique scripts and share ideas. If the majority thought an idea was funny it would be included in the show.


The famous Python Foot can here be seen in its original format in the bottom left corner of

The famous Python Foot can here be seen in its original format in the bottom left corner of “Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time”


Each member saw themselves as a writer rather than an actor looking for screen time, so casting of roles for the sketches was an unselfish process. Gilliam brought the sketches together with his animations and silliness.

The Gumbys

The Gumbys

John Philip Sousa provided the theme music for the show. His song, The Liberty Bell, was chosen because it was in the public domain and could be used without charge. [click to hear] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Liberty_bell_march.ogg#filelinks

There are many accounts concerning the origins of the name, Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Some say the BBC referred to the guys wandering around the building as a circus. All agree its only significance is that they thought it was funny, claiming it reminded them of a bad theatrical agent… Cleese adding that Python sounded slimy and slithery.

87fab94ff0aca68ea31faaa24bd75c91 monty-python-1020x1024

Some names suggested by the group and rejected by the BBC:

  • Whither Canada?
  • The Nose Show, Ow!
  • It’s Colin Plint!
  • A Horse, a Spoon and a Basin
  • The Toad Elevating Moment
  • Owl Stretching Time

Spam and More…

image5The Pythons influenced out culture more than you may think. We’ve all heard of spam. It came to us by way of the Monty Python sketch where Spam is included in every dish.

Loren Michaels considers the Flying Circus as Saturday Night Live’s major influence for the live sketches.

Get this, as of 2013, if you want to become a British citizen, you will find questions regarding Monty Python’s most famous sketches in the exam.

Just in case you need to pass the British Citizenship exam here are a couple of my favorites (hell it was hard to keep it to two!).




You Little Bastard


Cursed Bastard

One of the last known pictures of the star alive, it was taken at a gas station in the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles, as Dean fueled up en route to the race he never made.

One of the last known pictures of the star alive, it was taken at a gas station in the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles, as Dean fueled up en route to the race he never made.

On this day in 1955 at 5:45 PM, a freekin’ little bastard killed James Dean. Witnesses maintain that Dean was not speeding and the sun was still out when that “Little Bastard” Porsche 550 Spyder forced the Ford Tudor driven by Donald Turnupseed to turn left right in front of the Spyder and crush James Dean. [click on images to enlarge]

Dean is killed, his friend and Porsche mechanic Rolf Wütherich, who is ejected from the car, survives. Turnupseed is dazed and mostly uninjured.

Dean had George Barris of movie car fame customize the car and master pinstriper, Dean Jeffries, paint the car’s name, “Little Bastard” on the rear bonnet.


Dean Jeffries

Dean Jeffries



Seven days earlier, Obi-Wan Kenobi (you may know him as Alec Guinness) was with Dean outside a restaurant looking at the car. He mentioned that the car had a sinister appearance and told him, “If you get in that car, you will be found dead in it by this time next week.”

But that is not the end of this little bastard’s reign of terror.


The crash site

George Barris

George Barris

George Barris bought the crushed car for $2500 and while moving it, the Little Bastard slipped off its trailer and broke both of his mechanic’s legs.

Not long after, Barris sold the engine and drivetrain to racers Troy McHenry and William Eschrid. While racing against each other in cars that had parts from that little bastard, McHenry lost control of his car and hit a tree. He died instantly.

Eschrid was seriously injured when his car mysteriously locked up and rolled over as he was going into a turn.

The Little Bastard in the garage

Little Bastard in the garage

George Barris still had two tires from that bastard car that were untouched and looked like new. He sold the tires only to find out soon after that both tires blew out simultaneously running the car with its driver off the road. The driver was uninjured.

Barris kept possession of the car at his lot. It caught the attention of two would-be thieves who would regret coming across the Little Bastard. One had his arm torn open trying to steal the steering wheel. The other was injured trying to remove the blood stained seat.

James Dean and his mechanic and friend, Rolf, in the Porsche shortly before Jimmy's tragic death.

James Dean and his mechanic and friend, Rolf, in the Porsche shortly before Dean’s tragic death.


Barris had had enough and decided to hide the car. That didn’t last long as the California Highway Patrol convinced him to let them use it for a highway safety exhibit.

The first exhibit didn’t go very well as the garage that housed the car caught fire and burned to the ground. Oddly enough, the car suffered virtually no damage from the fire.

The next exhibition was set up at a local high school. The event ended abruptly as that little bastard fell off its display and broke a student’s hip.


The Little Bastard continued its jinx while being transported to the next event. The driver of the truck lost control and was ejected. The driver, George Barkhuis, was killed when he somehow got crushed by the car as it fell off the truck.

After the car fell off two more transport trucks while on the freeway causing minor accidents the CHP had enough.James-Dean-james-dean-930826_1920_1497

While transporting the car to Oregon for an exhibition, the truck hauling the car drove through a store window when the safety brake failed. Then in New Orleans in 1959, the Little Bastard broke into eleven pieces while it was anchored to stationary posts.

Enough was enough. Barris called off any more tour dates for the Little Bastard. He had it loaded into a box car in Miami to send by train back to California. When the box car was opened up in California the rail car was empty. It has not been seen again.

Last known picture of Dean alive heading to Cholame.

Last known picture of Dean alive heading to Cholame.

Rolf Wütherich never got over his guilt after the accident and tried to commit suicide twice. The second time was a failed murder/suicide attempt, stabbing his wife 14 times in their kitchen. He died in a drunk-driving accident in 1981. Turnupseed, the driver of the Ford died of lung cancer, also in 1981.


James Dean enjoying the sun washing his Porsche Speedster.

Back in August of 2005 the Volo Auto Museum offered a one million dollar reward to anyone producing the missing Porsche Spyder. To date no one has come forward with the body.

“There was something strange about that particular car…it made me uneasy. Dean was all worked up about how he was going to race it that weekend, but I couldn’t get enthusiastic about it. He dropped it off Thursday morning and returned that afternoon. I had crazy feelings about wanting to stop him as I watched him drive away from my shop. Everything that car has touched has turned to tragedy.It’s baffled me for years. I’ve never been able to come up with logical or rational answers to my questions. The only answer seems to be that the car was cursed.”

~ George Barris


Prince of Darkness

miles_davis__03____roll_magazine___2009___january_by_vagharshabadi-d5a4t0rMiles and Miles of Smiles

Today, September 28, 1991, Miles Davis passed from this world. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, Davis 220px-milesdaviskindofblueis considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. His 1959 album, Kind of Blue – one I’d take to my proverbial desert island – considered by critics as the greatest jazz album of all time, received its fourth platinum in 2008 for selling at least 4 million copies in the US.


On December 15, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives recognized Miles by passing a resolution commemorating the album Kind of Blue on its 50th anniversary, “honoring the masterpiece and reaffirming jazz as a national treasure”. Geez, never knew the House of Representatives as a ‘House of Music Appreciation’.


At 13 his father (a prominent dentist) gave him a trumpet to irk his mother who disliked the trumpet sound but also played blues piano, a fact she kept secret from Miles.

At 16 he played his first professional gig (Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker were members of the Billy Eckstine band) but his parents made sure he graduated high school before attending Julliard School of Music in 1944.

miles-davis-e28093-jack-johnson-8_5x11_flat1By 1953 MD was almost a gonner as his heroin addiction messed with his playing abilities and he spiraled downwards. Somehow he realized he had to quit and returned to his father’s home in St. Louis. With family support, he basically locked himself in his bedroom for several months until he had gone through the painful withdrawals.


In 1955 he had an operation to remove polyps from his larynx and was told not to speak for ten days. Miles being Miles got pissed at someone and raised his voice to argue with him. Besides damaging his vocal cords forever, he ended up with the characteristic voice that came to be associated with him.

RAY CARLESSThe “nocturnal” quality of his playing, Davis’ somber reputation, and his whispering voice, earned him the lasting moniker, “Prince of Darkness“.


By Ricardo Mainieri

His last recordings, both released posthumously, were the hip hop-influenced studio album Doo-Bop and Miles & Quincy Live at Montreux, a collaboration with Quincy Jones for the 1991 Montreux Jazz Festival.

51C5S8Z0NPL Doo-Bop


BRUNI Sablan

On September 28, 1991, Davis died from the combined effects of a stroke, pneumonia and respiratory failure in Santa Monica, California at age 65.

sir-miles-davis-david-lloyd-gloverMiles Davis is regarded as one of the most innovative, influential and respected figures in the history of music. He has been described as “one of the great innovators in jazz”. The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll noted “Miles Davis played a crucial and inevitably controversial role in every major development in jazz since the mid-’40s, and no other jazz musician has had so profound an effect on rock. UntitledMiles Davis was the most widely recognized jazz musician of his era, an outspoken social critic and an arbiter of style—in attitude and fashion—as well as music”. His album Kind of Blue is the best-selling album in the history of jazz music. On November 5, 2009, Rep. John Conyers of Michigan sponsored a measure in the United States House of Representatives to recognize and commemorate the album on its 50th anniversary. The measure also affirms jazz as a national treasure and “encourages the United States government to preserve and advance the art form of jazz music.” It passed, unanimously, with a vote of 409–0 on December 15, 2009. [Wikipedia]


Don’t Be Evil


Happy Birthday Google

Today, September 27, in 1998, is Google’s birthday, at least that’s what they say. This date falls somewhere between the beginning of the company and the launch of the search engine. Google uses this date to celebrate its birthday. [above image, Google founders, Larry Page on the left and Sergey Brin right]

At one time it was on September 7th. For some peculiar reason, Google has at times chosen the date of September 27th as their birthday, even though it is more officially September 4th or 7th. Confused? Google has no explanation for celebrating their birthday on different days over the years other than to say:

Google opened its doors in September 1998. The exact date when we celebrate our birthday has moved around over the years, depending on when people feel like having cake.

Sergey Brin left & Larry Page

Sergey Brin left & Larry Page

Google was founded by Larry Page 23, and Sergey Brin 24, who were pursuing their Ph.D. at Stanford University when they got a great idea; create a new search engine. They incorporated Google as a privately held company on September 4, 1998.

Page & Brin

Page & Brin

Its mission statement from the outset was “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”, and its unofficial slogan was:

   “Don’t be Evil”

Google co-founders Sergey Brin, left, and Larry Page in 2002
While conventional search engines ranked results by counting how many times the search terms appeared on the page, the two theorized a sergey-brin-and-larry-pag-001better system that analyzed the relationships between websites. They called this new technology PageRank – it determined a website’s relevance by the number of pages, and the importance of those pages that linked back to the original site.


Above is Google circa 1999 – Google’s First Production Server… with its hair pulled back, revealing a rack of cheap networked PCs.

Each level has a couple of PC boards slammed in there, partially overlapping. This approach reflects a presumption of rapid obsolescence of cheap hardware, which would not need to be repaired. Several of the PCs never worked, and the system design optimized around multiple computer failures.

Page and Brin originally nicknamed their new search engine “BackRub”, as the system checked backlinks to estimate the importance of a site. Eventually, they changed the name to Google, originating from a misspelling of the word “googol” (the number one followed by one hundred zeros). When Page and Brin received their first $100,000 paycheck in the name of Google Inc., they had to run and create a bank account for the name so that they could cash it.

Susan Wojcicki in front of the garage she rented to Page & Brin

Susan Wojcicki in front of the garage she rented to Page & Brin

Craig Silverstein

Craig Silverstein

The domain name for Google was registered on September 15, 1997. The company was incorporated on September 4, 1998. It was based in a friend’s (Susan Wojcicki) garage in Menlo Park, California. Craig Silverstein, a fellow PhD student at Stanford, was hired as the first employee.


Above: First Hardware Setup:

Sun Ultra II with dual 200 MHz processors and 256MB of RAM. This was the main machine for the original Backrub system.

2 x 300 MHz Dual Pentium II Servers (donated by Intel) with 512MB of RAM and 9 x 9GB hard drives between the two. The main search ran on these.

F50 IBM RS/6000 (donated by IBM) with 4 processors, 512MB of RAM and 8 x 9GB hard drives.

Two additional boxes included 3 x 9GB hard drives and 6 x 4GB hard drives respectively (the original storage for Backrub). These were attached to the Sun Ultra II.

IBM disk expansion box with another 8 x 9GB hard drives (donated by IBM).

Homemade disk box which contained 10 x 9GB SCSI hard drives.

The corporation has been estimated to run more than one million servers in data centers around the world and to process over one billion search requests each day. In December 2012 Alexa listed google.com as the most visited website in the world.

A row of servers in Google’s Mayes County, Calif., data center. The bright wires are color-coded across the building to ensure there is no confusion when doing maintenance.

A row of servers in Google’s Mayes County, Calif., data center. The bright wires are color-coded across the building to ensure there is no confusion when doing maintenance.

In 1997 Yahoo rejected an offer to buy Google for $1 million. Yahoo is now worth $20 billion, whereas Google has grown up to $200 Billion. This is perhaps one of the most interesting financial losses of the IT industry. [David Vise – The Google Story]

Google’s servers in its Council Bluffs, Iowa data center give the room a sci-fi like glow. This data center has more than 115,000 square feet of space.

A row of servers in Google’s data center in Douglas County, Ga. The blue lights indicate that everything is running smoothly.

Google’s servers in its Council Bluffs, Iowa data center give the room a sci-fi like glow. This data center has more than 115,000 square feet of space.]

Google’s servers in its Council Bluffs, Iowa data center give the room a sci-fi like glow. This data center has more than 115,000 square feet of space.]

In May 2011, the number of monthly unique visitors to Google surpassed one billion for the first time, an 8.4 percent increase from May 2010 (931 million). In January 2013, Google announced it had earned $50 billion in annual revenue for the year of 2012. This marked the first time the company had reached this feat, topping their 2011 total of $38 billion.

Want to know more? Google it!

Post Navigation


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.