Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Let's Talk Turkey

   As Thanksgiving approaches, we pay tribute to a bird that gets no respect: the turkey. Benjamin Franklin thought it was a more fitting symbol of America than the Eagle. Unfortunately, the turkey has a face that only a mother could love and in America it's all about how good you look. So the poor turkey faces the chopping block and the Eagle gets Federal protection.

Not likely to win any beauty contests.

Taking home the turkey.

Attack of the wild turkey.

Remember to hold the neck firmly when you cut the head off.

Look Ma! No saddle!

This relieved bird has just learned he has been granted a Presidential pardon.

This is just plain creepy.

Very funny

Mary and Diane were thrilled to be able to paticipate in the annual running of the turkeys.

Get a grip!

To fatten up her turkeys for Thanksgiving, Mary came up with a novel exercise program.

Let's Eat!

Sci Fi Rules

   In order to provide full disclosure, I must admit to at least one vice: I love science fiction. I read paperbacks in the genre voraciously in my youth but, by then, the science fiction magazine was in decline. In the 20s and 30s, there were numerous monthly magazines offering the best fiction from esteemed authors in the field like Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Poul Anderson and many others. Here are just a few samples of the colorful, intriguing and often lurid cover art from these pioneering publications.

In the technologic future, humans become increasingly fragile.

This reminds me of the final scene of "Planet of the Apes".

As the land becomes more crowded, we may eventually live over the ocean. Where does the sewage go?

Do you think someday our music might become digital?

The TV helmet never really caught on.

Don't mess with the Martian Queen!

Cool city of the future. Flying cars, anyone?

Eye In The Sky

     In the late half of the 19th Century, America was caught up in the frenzy of Westward Expansion. Towns were sprouting up in Kansas cornfields and every city in the country was trying to sell itself to the waves of immigrants and emigrants seeking a new life on the Frontier.
     To accomplish this, almost every American city, no matter how small, commissioned artists to paint "birds-eye" views of their community. These panoramic views often showed the entire town as if seen from high in the sky, and by being so far away, they did not show the grime, poverty and crude infrastructure of these fledgeling settlements. The idea was to impress prospective homebuyers with the vitality, size and beauty of each city and these posters demonstrate how almost any town can be made attractive.

Los Angeles didn't look all that prosperous in 1871.

San Pedro seems like a busy port in 1897.

Astoria, Oregon, 1890

Pittsburgh 1902

Even large cities like New York City wanted a "birds-eye" view in 1870.

Virginia City, Nevada Territory, 1861

In the 1870s, St. Louis wanted to show off the new Eads Bridge.

This 1892 view of our nation's Capital highlights future monuments yet to be built.

Chicago seems like a going concern in 1892.

This 1904 poster gives a tantalizing glimpse of the wonders of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition being built in St. Louis.

Salt Lake City was already a large city in 1891.

Phoenix, Arizona 1885

In 1877, San Francisco was crowded with ships coming and going.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

She Married Adventure

   When I was in College, I bought a strikingly-bound book called "I Married Adventure" in a second hand store. It was written by Osa Johnson, a young Kansan woman who accompanied her husband, Martin on a series of adventures in Borneo, Africa and the Soloman Islands early in the last century. Besides being an author, Osa and Martin were early filmmakers, naturalists and photographers. For decades this dashing couple captured the public's imagination through their films and books of adventure in exotic, far-away lands.

The Martins studied the wildlife and peoples of East and Central Africa, the South Pacific Islands and British North Borneo. They explored then-unknown lands and brought back film footage and photographs, offering many Americans their first understanding of these distant lands.

Living for months at a time in the bush, the Martins often adopted monkeys for pets.

The Crew For a Trip From Nairobi Into The Congo.

The movies and photos the Martins brought back were often the first view that Americans had of these primitive peoples.

The 1940 film was released simultaneously with the book.

Osa was no slouch with a firearm, The Martins often had to face down wild animals trying to get the most exciting shots with their cameras.

Back at their Nairobi home, Osa shares ice cubes with the natives.

When Osa married she understood that Martin was not likely to provide a "normal" home life but she probably had no idea how different her life would be from other Kansas farmgirls. Even in the remotest parts of Africa she still made sure their safari suits were freshly-laundered and ironed.

The 1932 feature movie Congorilla resulted from the couple's fourth trip to Africa, and was the first movie with sound authentically recorded on the continent.

Osa with another pet.

Osa and Martin with two of their cameras.

Although their early expeditions were poorly funded and they travelled meagerly, as they made more money from their films, they were able to go in style later on. Martin designed this special filming safari vehicle for use on their third African trip.

"Home Sweet Home"

In 1932 the Johnsons learned to fly at the airfield in Osa's hometown of Chanute. Once they had their pilot's licenses, they purchased two Sikorsky amphibious planes, a S-39-CS "Spirit of Africa" and S-38-BS "Osa's Ark".

Osa at the controls.