Author Archives: Bill Brandt

3 Gearheads Meet At A Bar

My car club has had a First Sunday Drive for a number of years. The name is as it implies – a drive somewhere at the first Sunday of each month. And it has always been popular – because people don’t have to make reservations – they just show up at the appointed time and place for a drive of approximately 2 hours. Followed by a no-host lunch somewhere.

The lunch part is always the fun part. At least from a planning perspective. I’ve always told the manager that I don’t know how many will attend. But it will probably be somewhere between 5 and 30. Among my records for both the low and high end have been 3 and 60. I always let them know the count 2 hours prior, when we leave at 10AM.

Oh and everyone wants separate checks.

Is there a problem?

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Filed under Small Stuff

If Shakespeare Had Been A Cinematographer

I believe that he would have approved of this adaptation of MacBeth. These days, it takes courage for a producer to have his work in Black and White, rather than color. I can think of only a few modern movies that were done in B & W.

In The Tragedy of MacBeth, the cinematographer really understood the medium and exploited it. Every shadow, every shade, was enhanced by this medium.

Take a look at the trailer:

One critic called the cinematography a visual feast.

My only issue? It’s really an issue highlighting my own ignorance, and not that of The Bard.

With the Elizabethan and Shakespearean English, I felt that I sometimes needed subtitles :-).

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Miscellaneous Ramblings – 01/06/22

If there is an informal poll for “Worst Commerical Airport – Passenger Category” – my vote would go to SFO – San Francisco. Even getting there, between the weather and the traffic, can be a challenge. I can remember years ago, picking up my parents, that the wind and rain was so strong that I would unintentionally change lanes driving over the Bay Bridge. And on that bridge, it’s a long way down.

And because traffic can really bite you, sometimes I’ll leave an hour earlier than what I think I really need.

Once you get there – turning off from the Bayshore Freeway – that’s US 101 – you are funneled into several “Y” intersections with little time to react.

I think that they built this facility over the years in sort of an “ad hoc” manner and any “master plan” to handle the traffic went by the wayside.

At least that’s my opinion.

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Filed under History, Humor

2 Modern Westerns I’m Watching

For some reason, Hollywood seems to have forgotten Westerns. Growing up in the 50s, America had a plethora of Westerns. There were more TV series than I can count.

In 1959, NBC started a series that lasted 14 years. It was also one of the first shows that transitioned to color. I can remember, in the early 60s, going with my family to some friends who had a rare color TV every Sunday evening where we would all watch Bonanza.

There have been some low-budget Westerns lately – movies you probably hadn’t heard of but I saw one on Netflix some time ago. I thought Gone Are the Days was a great Western – ended up buying a DvD. A father who led a life of crime had one chance at redemption.

ColoComment recommends Old Henry.

In the 2000s the only big budget Western I can remember was Open Range.

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Christmas Eve, 1944

The interesting thing about history is that some events have been known, well, since the event. Whether it was 100s of years ago or a few days ago. Sometime ago, I read an excellent book on the history of the First World War. Also known as “The Great War”, or the “War to End All Wars”.

Along with the history and origins of the Spanish Flu, the author went into great detail on the unofficial Christmas Armistice that broke out all up and down the line of the Western Front on Christmas Eve, 1914. German and British soldiers with hesitance came out of their trenches and sang together and exchanged simple gifts. Even had a few football matches amid the barbed wire.

Other bits of history, long suppressed and known only to the few who were there, come bubbling to the surface years later through the remembrances of one of the principals.

I wrote about one of these times that became known 50 years later, when the “puzzle was finally solved”.

This is another one of those incidents, remembered by a man who then was a 12 year old boy. It only became public through a 1970s Reader’s Digest story.

He and his mother were waiting for their father to return to their cabin in the forest, when they had some unexpected visitors. And for one cold and snowy evening all hearts were open to the true meaning of Christmas.

Whether you are the man for whom this site is dedicated, and on a Christmas Eve in 2008 had “had a hole in his life that would not be filled on this side of the veil“, or a serviceman (or woman) “on the line” today somewhere in the world thinking of home and loved ones, may you find joy and peace.

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Filed under Friends, Life

Being the Recardos – Review

Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem, as Lucy and Desi

I go to the movies fairly frequently. I generally avoid the “movies of the month” at the local metroplex, but prefer either the “classics” shown there occasionally, or the smaller produced movies. Last night, for example, I went to see The Matrix (1999) which is apparently being reshown on the big screen. I found it to be just as entertaining as it was 22 years ago, although some of the aspects are still perplexing. I’ve heard that House of Gucci is pretty good, and may see that in the upcoming weeks. I think Lady Gaga is very talented; having seen her in a biography movie a few years ago.

I saw Belfast a few weeks ago – a great movie on the origins of “The Troubles” in 1969 at Northern Ireland.

I just finished Being the Recardos today. It tells the story of one tumultuous week during the making of an episode in Season 2 1 * (1952) of I Love Lucy.

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Where were you 58 years ago today?

November 22, 1963

I was in the 7th grade, in between classes. A group of students was around a teacher, and the teacher said “Yes, he’s dead”. Walking down the hall in between classes, I had heard what I thought were rumors from other students in the hallway until the teacher confirmed it.

My mother was going into a Bank of America branch and saw everyone sobbing.

What a week that was for America.

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Filed under History

The Wright Brothers

Like Joe Rosenthal’s iconic photo of Iwo Jima, this first flight was immortalized almost by accident .

I just finished David McCullough’s wonderful book on the Wright Brothers. He did some thorough research, including many notes by them on the study of bird flight, and letters.

One theme remained with me throughout the book.


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Filed under Aeronautical Engineering, Airplanes, Flying, History

The Coarsening of Society

I enjoy using my WordPress app on my iPhone through the day. It tells me what’s going on with this website. Some days it’s pretty quiet, other days interesting. A few days ago, Lex’s tale of Piddle Packs was read 100s of times around the world. It was fun to watch. At my first check, 200 people had read it. By the end of the day, 400 had read it. This went on for the next few days, in smaller numbers each succeeding day. Someone had probably referenced it on a blog and people read it – with many passing the link on to who-knows-where to others via email. In my mind, I imagined readers from around the world laughing or at least smiling. I’d like to think that Lex was smiling, too.

He’s had some that have over a few days built into the 1000s, but who’s counting? Some funny, some thought provoking.

He continues to touch people around the world, even 9 years later.

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Filed under Politics, Politics and Culture

On this date in history…

November 8, 1950

During the Korean War the very first- ever jet vs. jet aerial dogfight took place. U.S. Air Force pilot Lt. Russell J. Brown was flying a Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star and successfully shot down two North Korean MiG-15s, which were possibly piloted by Russians. The MiG-15 was the fastest, most maneuverable fighter jet of its day, and generally dominated the skies it flew. Taking down two in a dogfight was a tremendous opening salvo.

H/T to my Air Force friend who sent this…

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Filed under Airplanes, History, USAF