The Twelve Days of Halloween 2014: Day 5 and Counting

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Flying Aircraft Carrier: Before Galactica or Helicarriers: USS Macon & Akron

helicarrierFlying aircraft carriers are a hallmark of speculative fiction, appearing in some of the best sci-fi we’ve seen over the years. But long before Tony Stark and Richard Reed led the effort to design S.H.I.E.L.D.s imposing Helicarrier for badass, eye-patched comic book hero Nick Fury, there was another….

And long before super-hot (and badass) eye-patched Captain Franky Cook of the British Air Carrier H.M.S. Manta Base saved Sky Captain and Polly Perkins  from the evil Nazi-esque Dr. Totenkopf’s natsy robot armies of doom, flying aircraft carriers roamed the sky.

mantastation2And as the Cylons might say, while being thwarted once more in their attempt to rid the galaxy of pesky human vermin by the Battlestar Galactica and it’s erstwhile heroes, Apollo, Starbuck, battlestar-galactica-20-things-ships-1Boomer, and their various comrades in their Vipers and Raptors, “All this has happened before, all will happen again.’

Damned straight.  It did happen before, and it happened for real in the form of the airships USS Akron and USS Macon.  These giant zeppelins carried fighter craft in compartments within their superstructure, launched them for reconnaissance and escort work, and g463185recovered them via an ingenuous trapeze-like snare which then replaced them in their nests.  How cool must that have been?  I was totally amazed, when I recently discovered that not one but two of these ships–several times larger than the infamous Hindenburg.


Unfortunately, size was not the only way these ships outdid the nazi Hindenburg. In the end, both Akron and Macon experienced catastrophic crashes. Akron went down off the coast of New Jersey in fierce wind, with 73 dead–making it’s destruction, not the much more famous crash of the Hindenburg (35 dead), the deadliest airship accident in history. Most of Akron’s casualties drowned in the Atlantic ocean.

Less than a year later, and a continent away, the USS Macon fell into the Pacific, but with only 3 casualties since, after the loss of of it’s sister ship, Macon had been outfitted with life jackets. Why isn’t this story better known? It is probably because the Navy had little interest in promoting it’s failures, and both crashes happened off shore, with few witnesses, while the Hindenburg crashed before thousands, in front of the world media, in a dramatic fireball.

What remains is one simple question: What is the deal with one-eyed airship commanders?
saul-tigh_l nick-fury sky_captain_angelina_jolie


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The Twelve Days of Halloween 2014: Day 4 and Counting

Witch Bikewitch broom

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Lowell Blues

kerouacThinking about things Beat after yesterday’s Shakespeare & Company post.  Seems like a good time to share this cool film, found on the equally cool Allen Ginsberg Project blog.

Henry Ferrini’s impressionistic evocative Lowell Blues (2000) is a honeyed melancholic visual poem (somewhat imposed upon in this version by Journeyman Pictures intrusive logo!), with home-town boy Jack Kerouac’s words always at the center, featuring Lee Konitz’s mournful alto sax, and distinctive readings of Kerouac’s distinctive prose, by such distinctive voices as (those clearly belonging to) Robert Creeley, Gregory Corso, Carolyn Cassady, Johnny Depp, David Amram.. We even catch isolated fragments of Kerouac himself.”

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The Twelve Days of Halloween 2014: Day 3 and Counting

I paired this really cool photo of elaborate vintage costumed characters with a real life demon rarely seen in her natural form.  Before you laugh, remember this: she might not know the difference between John Wayne and John Wayne Gacy, but she’s got security clearance and probably already knows where you sleep at night.


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Shakepeare & Company–The Center of The World


Photo By Craig Finlay

Vanity Fair Magazine has a great article on what might be the greatest book store in the world.  I can’t say for sure–I’ve been to City Lights in San Francisco, Powell’s in Portland, and Rizzoli in New York City, but I’ve never been to Paris.  I’m a book fetishist at heart–as fond of old volumes for their texture and scent as I am for what might be in them, and an absolute fiend for vintage pulp sci-fi paperback cover art.  We have something like 10,000 books in our house, most of them on shelves but quite a few in boxes, waiting for their shot at daylight.  Shakespeare’s gleams in the foggy distance like a beacon, a warm hearth  in the murk.  Someday….



Of course, Shakespeare’s is and was much more than a bookstore–think of it as an oasis for aspiring writers, heavily laden with a memories of Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and their beat brethren as well as earlier, even brighter luminaries like Hemingway, Pound, Fitzgerald, Stein and Eliot in their day–and a host of others before, betwixt, and after them.

Rather than reinterpret what has been said so well elsewhere, I’ve collected some links and photos of Shakespeare and Company, its owner, its history, and its place in the world as a literary mecca.  I encourage you to indulge.


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The Twelve Days of Halloween 2014: Day 2 and Counting

Whoa. A perfect example of why I’m allowing you to determine what is scary, and what is sexy, sentimental, etc.  Even I don’t know for sure.

vintage-halloween-costumes1 vintage-halloween

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