Archive for April, 2014
24 Apr 2014

“The Scene Had a Problem, and the Problem Was the Gun.”

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RingoKid
Enter the Ringo Kid.

Scott Eyman, in his new biography, John Wayne, The Life the Legend, describes the historic source of the iconic gesture in the opening scene of John Ford‘s “Stagecoach” (1939), which ignited Wayne’s career and made him a major star.

The scene had a problem, and the problem was the gun.

Dudley Nichol’s script was specific. “There is the sharp report of a rifle and Curly jerks up his gun as Buck saws wildly at the ribbons.

“The stagecoach comes to a lurching stop before a young man who stands in the road beside his unsaddled horse. He has a saddle over one arm and a rifle carelessly swung in the other hand… It is Ringo…

    “RINGO? You might need me and this Winchester, I saw a couple ranches burnin’ last night.’

    “CURLY? I guess you don’t understand, kid. You’re under arrest.

    “RINGO?(with charm) I ain’t arguing about that, Curly. I just hate to part with a gun like this.

    “Holding it by the lever, he gives it a jerk and it cocks with a click…”

John Ford loved the dialogue, which was in and of itself unusual, but the introduction of the Ringo Kid needed to be emphasized. Ford decided that the shot would begin with the actor doing something with the gun, then the camera would rapidly track in from a full-length shot to an extreme close-up — an unusually emphatic camera movement for Ford, who had grown to prefer a stable camera.

Since the actor was already coping with two large props, Ford decided to lose the horse. He told his young star what he was planning to do: “work out something with the rifle,” Ford sais. “Or maybe just a pistol.” He wasn’t sure.

And just like that the problem was dropped in the lap of his star, a young — but not all that young — actor named John Wayne., better known to Ford and everyone else as Duke.

Wayne ran through the possibilities. every actor in in westerns could twirl a pistol, so that was out. Besides, the script specified a rifle cocked quickly with one hand, but later in the scene than what Ford was planning. In addition, Ford wanted him to do something flashy, but it couldn’t happen too quickly for the audience to take it in. All the possibilities seemed to cancel each other out.

And then Yakima Canutt, Wayne’s friend and the stunt coordinator on the film offered an idea. When Canutt was a boy he had seen Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. As the overland stage raced around the arena, a messenger trailing behind the stagecoach had carried a rifle with a large ring loop which allowed him to spin the rifle in the air, cocking it with one hand. The crowd went wild. Canutt said that it had been done thirty years ago and he still remembered the moment. More to the point, he had never seen anybody else do it.

Wayne sparked to the idea, as did Ford, so they had to make it work. Ford instructed the prop department to manufacture a ring loop and install it on a standard issue 1892 Winchester carbine. After the rifle was modified, Wayne began experimenting with the twirl move as Canutt remembered it, but there was a problem — the barrel of the rifle was too long — it wouldn’t pass cleanly beneath Wayne’s arm.

The Winchester went back to the prop department, where they sawed an inch or so off the end, then soldered the sight back on the shortened barrel.

With that minor adjustment, the move was suddenly effortless. Wayne began rehearsing the twirling movement that would mark his appearance in the movie he had been waiting more than ten years to make — a film for John Ford, his friend, his mentor, his idol, the man he called “Coach” or, alternately — and more tellingly — “Pappy.”

With any luck at all, he’d never have to go back to B westerns as long as he lived.

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BuffaloBillsWildWest
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World.

23 Apr 2014

Spring Ice Melt Moves Bridge

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Bouctouche River, Ste-Marie-de–Kent, New Brunswick.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

23 Apr 2014

Evidence of Decline

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WWIIProduction

Rare:

During the 3 1/2 years of U.S. involvement, here’s what we manufactured:

8 battleships, 22 aircraft carriers, 48 cruisers, 349 destroyers, 420 destroyer escorts, 203 submarines, 4 million tons of merchant ships, 100,000 fighters, 98,000 bombers, 24,000 transport aircraft, 58,000 training aircraft, 93,000 tanks, 257,000 artillery pieces, 105,000 mortars, 3,000,000 machine guns, 2.5 mil military trucks 16.1 million men in uniform, and we developed the atomic bomb.

Simply astounding.

“During this same period of time, three and a half years, it should be noted that Obama couldn’t put together a functioning website,” Neal Boortz commented.

23 Apr 2014

St. George’s Day

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StGeorgePushkinMuseum
St. George, bas relief, Pushkin Museum, Moscow.

From Robert Chambers, The Book of Days, 1869:

Butler, the historian of the Romish calendar, repudiates George of Cappadocia, and will have it that the famous saint was born of noble Christian parents, that he entered the army, and rose to a high grade in its ranks, until the persecution of his co-religionists by Diocletian compelled him to throw up his commission, and upbraid the emperor for his cruelty, by which bold conduct he lost his head and won his saintship. Whatever the real character of St. George might have been, he was held in great honour in England from a very early period. While in the calendars of the Greek and Latin churches he shared the twenty-third of April with other saints, a Saxon Martyrology declares the day dedicated to him alone; and after the Conquest his festival was celebrated after the approved fashion of Englishmen.

In 1344, this feast was made memorable by the creation of the noble Order of St. George, or the Blue Garter, the institution being inaugurated by a grand joust, in which forty of England’s best and bravest knights held the lists against the foreign chivalry attracted by the proclamation of the challenge through France, Burgundy, Hainault, Brabant, Flanders, and Germany. In the first year of the reign of Henry V, a council held at London decreed, at the instance of the king himself, that henceforth the feast of St. George should be observed by a double service; and for many years the festival was kept with great splendour at Windsor and other towns. Shakspeare, in Henry VI, makes the Regent Bedford say, on receiving the news of disasters in France:

Bonfires in France I am forthwith to make
To keep our great St. George’s feast withal!’

Edward VI promulgated certain statutes severing the connection between the ‘noble order’ and the saint; but on his death, Mary at once abrogated them as ‘impertinent, and tending to novelty.’ The festival continued to be observed until 1567, when, the ceremonies being thought incompatible with the reformed religion, Elizabeth ordered its discontinuance. James I, however, kept the 23rd of April to some extent, and the revival of the feast in all its glories was only prevented by the Civil War. So late as 1614, it was the custom for fashionable gentlemen to wear blue coats on St. George’s day, probably in imitation of the blue mantle worn by the Knights of the Garter.

In olden times, the standard of St. George was borne before our English kings in battle, and his name was the rallying cry of English warriors. According to Shakspeare, Henry V led the attack on Harfleur to the battle-cry of ‘God for Harry! England! and St. George!’ and ‘God and St. George’ was Talbot’s slogan on the fatal field of Patay. Edward of Wales exhorts his peace-loving parents to

‘Cheer these noble lords,
And hearten those that fight in your defence;
Unsheath your sword, good father, cry St. George!’

The fiery Richard invokes the same saint, and his rival can think of no better name to excite the ardour of his adherents:

‘Advance our standards, set upon our foes,
Our ancient word of courage, fair St. George,
Inspire us with the spleen of fiery dragons.’

England was not the only nation that fought under the banner of St. George, nor was the Order of the Garter the only chivalric institution in his honour. Sicily, Arragon, Valencia, Genoa, Malta, Barcelona, looked up to him as their guardian saint; and as to knightly orders bearing his name, a Venetian Order of St. George was created in 1200, a Spanish in 1317, an Austrian in 1470, a Genoese in 1472, and a Roman in 1492, to say nothing of the more modern ones of Bavaria (1729), Russia (1767), and Hanover (1839).

Legendarily the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George was founded by the Emperor Constantine (312-337 A.D.). On the factual level, the Constantinian Order is known to have functioned militarily in the Balkans in the 15th century against the Turk under the authority of descendants of the twelfth-century Byzantine Emperor Isaac II Angelus Comnenus.

We Lithuanians liked St. George as well. When I was a boy I attended St. George Lithuanian Parish Elementary School, and served mass at St. George Lithuanian Roman Catholic Church in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.

StGeorgeXmas1979
St. George Church, Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, Christmas, 1979. This church, built by immigrant coal miners in 1891, was torn down by the Diocese of Allentown in 2010.

22 Apr 2014

The Leper With the Most Sores Wins

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Leper1

Dan Greenfield has another brilliant essay which identifies precisely the absurd intellectual underpinnings of the left’s only-too-successful moral jiu-jitsu.

The rhetoric of equality asserts a just cause while overlooking the social good. Rights are demanded. The demand is absolute and the logic for it remains left behind in a desk drawer on the wrong side of the table. Instead there are calls for empathy. “If you only knew a gay couple.” Hysterical condemnations. “I’m pretty sure you’re the devil”, one recent email to me began. And a whole lot of vague promises about the good things that will follow once we’re all paying for it.

We aren’t truly moving toward anarchy or some libertarian order, but a calculated form of repression in which shrill demands substitute for legal guidelines and those who scream the loudest get the most rights.

The new freedoms are largely random and chaotic. Donate enough money to the right people while helping out the left and a special addition to the marriage split-level house will be carved out for you. Why? Because there will be a lot of yelling. Naturally. And if the polygamists yell loudly enough and donate enough money, they’ll get their own marriage expansion as well because that is how things work now.

There is no longer a fixed notion of rights. The trappings of equality and angry causes are hollow. The legal doctrine on which courts make their decisions are targets in search of arrows, emotions hunting around for precedents to wrap them in. These decisions are not rational, but rather rationalizations. Their only anchor is a new role for government in protecting any group that is officially marginalized.

The old Bill of Rights extended rights irrespective of group membership. The new one wipes out universal rights and replaces them with particular privileges. Entire amendments may sink beneath the waves, but a few groups get comfortable deck chairs on the Titanic.

Why is one group protected rather than another? Why do gay activists get a government-bonded right, complete with Federal enforcement, while polygamy is outlawed? The only answers are rationalizations. With morality sinking fast and few common values that the people in charge will accept, there is no longer a common value system to rely on.

Progressive morality is constantly being reshaped in tune to the whims of the left. It can’t be relied upon, because it isn’t there. The only thing fixed about it is the need to fight for the oppressed, which not coincidentally at all is also the shaky civil rights era legal doctrine on which the whole modern house of cards rests.

22 Apr 2014

Nihilism on Twitter

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Tweet49

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How a “Failed Intellectual” Became One of the Internet’s Favorite Nihilists

Hat tip to Tristyn Bloom.

22 Apr 2014

Vipukirves Leveraxe

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leveraxe
The Vipukirves Leveraxe: a radical new axe design.

This morning, I got an advertising email from AllOutdoor featuring an intriguing new gizmo:

Some crazy Finn has gone and reinvented one of mankind’s oldest tools: the axe. Check out that picture — it doesn’t even look like an axe, but it splits wood like nobody’s business.

The Vipukirves Leveraxe is designed to flip around to the side right after impact and break off pieces of the log. So unlike with a regular axe, you’re encouraged to strike near the sides of the log. It’s also way safer, especially when you include a tire to catch flying pieces of wood.

You can buy them off the Vipukirves website for 193 euros, which right now is over $260.00. Yeah, I kinda want one.

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I notice that the wood getting chopped successfully in the video looks like birch (which figures, they’ve got a lot of birch in Finland). But, how, I wonder, would this axe work on oak? (In Pennsylvania, we burn oak.)

21 Apr 2014

31 Examples of Irony

21 Apr 2014

This Story Breaks My Freaking Heart

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Maybe giving all those Barney Fifes out there Glocks was a good idea after all.

21 Apr 2014

Honey Badger Escape Artist

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Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

21 Apr 2014

Cincinnati’s Old Main Library

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CincinnatiLibrary375
Cincinnati Old Main Library, built 1874, demolished 1955.

History

More photos

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20 Apr 2014

Easter

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Rubensthe-resurrection
Peter Paul Rubens, The Resurrection of Christ, 1611-1612, Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp

20 Apr 2014

Sighthound Nailed Easter Bunny

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SforzaHoursBunny

Sforza Hours’, Milan 1490.

BL, Add 34294, fol. 45r

Via Ratak Monodosico.

20 Apr 2014

Obama’s Easter Morning

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Hat tip to Theo.

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