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what goes up must come down…

James May, a toy fanatic from the UK built a real house from Legos. This two-story Lego palace, which resides in the middle of a vineyard, sports a working bathroom, and is covered inside and out with bricks pieced together by 272 Legos. Over three million bricks were used to build the Lego pad, so doing some quick math here — that’s over 816 million Lego pieces.

(GEEKSUGAR  8.27.09)

The famous James May’s LEGO House has been destroyed.



ART IN CINEMA part 4: wartime revolutions…


When war broke out in Europe in September 1939, 17-year-old James Whitney was in England studying painting, while his 22-year-old brother John Whitney was in Paris studying new music with Rene Leibowitz.

They came back to their hometown, Los Angeles, which turned out to be a lively intellectual center at the time due to the influx of European refugees, ranging from Man Ray to Arnold Schoenberg (Leibowitz’s teacher). Picasso’s Guernica was on display at the Stendhal Gallery, and a few weeks later Oskar Fischinger had a show of his abstract paintings and a screening of one of his films there.

The Whitney brothers were excited by the technical brilliance of Fischinger’s films, but somewhat disturbed by his use of symphonic music, which seemed old-fashioned to them. John constructed an animation stand and other equipment in the apartment they shared in Pasadena. James designed geometric shapes on small index cards and created positive and negative stencils that could be painted or air-brushed onto the cards. They intended these modular elements to function like tones in Schoenberg’s musical theories, and submitted them to musical permutations (such as inversions, counterpoints, chord clustering and retrogressions).

John worked on inventing a mechanism to create sound, while James continued to make visual Variations, through hundreds of hours of hand animation. This work culminated in the 1942 Variations on a Circle, a film that achieves a truly musical beauty, ranging from dynamic flickers of contrasting colors to sinuous movements cutting through circular shapes.

The brothers never actually collaborated on a given film. In fact they hardly saw each other, since John worked a night shift in an aircraft factory, and James worked a day shift at the California Institute of Technology drawing fine details of machine parts that were being invented there — work he was assigned to do as a conscientious objector to the war.

By 1942, John had developed a system of pendulums that could be carefully calibrated to swing at a certain frequency. Attached to the top, a variable slit exposed the precise vibration equivalent directly onto the soundtrack area of a film strip, thus creating music directly without instruments. This pioneer electronic music could produce pure tones, gliding chromatic glissandos and reverberating pulsations unknown to ordinary musical instruments.

John also constructed an optical printer and an animation stand that allowed them to film the pure direct light shining through openings in stencils rather than the reflected light from drawings. John made two films with this system, Film Exercise No. 1 and Film Exercise No. 5, while James made Film Exercise No. 2 and 3 and the masterpiece Film Exercise No. 4, which during eight minutes develops not only a powerful visual sonata of violent fluctuations, glaring neon colors and cool nocturnal blues, but also a haunting musical composition that reflects the terrors of war.

James took the Film Exercises to New York, where they were screened at the Guggenheim Museum. But during the screening the Baroness Hilla von Rebay screamed for the sound to be turned off, assuming that the projector was simply malfunctioning. Despite this setback, the Film Exercises went on to receive the prize for best sound a few years later at the Brussels Experimental Film Festival.

At the end of the war, James was devastated to discover that at his Cal Tech job he had been drawing plans related to the atomic bomb project. He withdrew from filmmaking for several years while he came to terms with his feelings of guilt and responsibility.


for more ART IN CINEMA see part 1part 2 and part 3

extinct dog breeds…

a look at canines past…


Alpine Mastiff

The Alpine Mastiff is an extinct Molosser dog breed, the progenitor of the St. Bernard and a major contributor to the modern Mastiff (through such dogs as “Couchez”), as well as to other breeds that derive from these breeds or are closely related to them. The names “Alpine Mastiff” and “Saint Bernard” were used interchangeably in the early 19th century, though the variety that was kept at the hospice at the Great St. Bernard Pass was significantly altered by introducing other breeds, including Newfoundland and Great Dane, and it is this composite breed that now carries the name St. Bernard. Inevitably these dogs filtered through to the wider population, and the original variety dwindled in its pure form, though a rare breed, the “Cane Garouf” or “Patua”, found in the part of the Alps formerly inhabited by the Alpine Mastiff, may also descend from the extinct breed.

Blue Paul Terrier

No one seems to have full knowledge as to how the Blue Pauls were bred or from where they originally came. There was a story that John Paul Jones, the Scottish born American sailor, brought them from abroad and landed some when he visited his native town of Kirkcudbright about 1770. The Gypsies around the Kin Tilloch district kept Blue Pauls, which they fought for their own amusement. They were game to the death and could suffer much punishment. They were expert and tricky in their fighting tactics, which made them great favorites with those who indulged in this sport. They maintained that the breed originally came from the Galloway coast, which lends support to the Paul Jones legend. The first dogs to arrive in the United States with the English immigrants in the mid-19th century were the Blue Paul Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.


The Bullenbeisser (also known as the German Bulldog) was a breed of dog known for its strength and agility. The breed was closely related to the Bärenbeisser (some believe that the two breeds were the same (the names mean “bull-biter” and “bear-biter”), and the Boxer. There were two regional varieties, the Brabanter Bullenbeisser and the Danziger Bullenbeisser. The Bullenbeisser became extinct by crossbreeding rather than by a decadence of the breed, as happened with the Old Time Bulldog, for instance. In the late 1870s, German breeders Roberth, Konig, and Hopner used the dog to create a new breed, today called the Boxer. Some 30 Bullenbeissers were already crossed by the Boxer Kennel Club of Germany at 1900 in with Bulldogs brought from the British Isles. The blood composition was 50/50 at that time, however, the German owners started crossing their dogs with all kinds of Bulldogs and Boxers, which produced an undistinguishable breed after the World War II. One reason why such quantity of German blood was used to create the Boxer dog was the wish to eliminate the excessive white color of the breed, and the necessity of producing thousands of dogs for one of the most popular breeds in the world.

Cordoba Fighting Dog

The Cordoba Fighting Dog originated in Córdoba, Argentina. The breed had such strong aggression toward other dogs that the males and females would rather fight than mate. In addition, many members of this breed died in the dog fighting pits, contributing to the breed’s extinction. The Cordoba was capable of hunting in a small pack of a male and female, otherwise they were more likely to turn on their packmates. The Cordoba was used as a contributing breed to create the Dogo Argentino.

Among the breed’s ancestors, the most notable is the Bull Terrier, which at the time was still used in England for dog fights – at the same time Bull Terriers were being exported to the Indian subcontinent where today their lineage includes the Gull Terr.

Dogo Cubano

Dogo Cubano or Cuban Mastiff or Cuban Dogo or Cuban Dogge is an extinct breed of dog from Cuba. It was of Bull Mastiff type. This breed of dog was used for dog fighting.

This breed of dog was introduced in Cuba to capture runaway slaves (cimarrones). After the abolition of slavery it became too expensive to feed and the breed ceased to exist with time.

Hare Indian Dog

It is thought by some that the breed originated from cross-breedings between native Tahltan dogs and dogs brought to the North American continent by Viking explorers during the Norse colonization of the Americas, as it bears strong similarities to Icelandic breeds in appearance and behavior, such as cat-like body rubbing to express affection. Though originally spread over most of the northern regions of North America, the breed fell into decline after the introduction of firearms made its hunting abilities redundant. It gradually intermingled with other breeds such as the Newfoundland dog, the Canadian Eskimo dog and Mongrels.


Kurī is the Māori language name for the Polynesian dog. It was introduced to New Zealand by Māori during their migrations from East Polynesia sometime around 1280 AD. It was used by Māori as a food source and the skin and hair was used for making dog-skin cloaks, belts, decorating weapons, and poi. The kurī became extinct in New Zealand some time after the arrival of European settlers. The last known specimens, a female and her pup, are now in the collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Paisley Terrier

The Paisley Terrier was a breed of terrier type dog from Great Britain, bred primarily as a pet and showdog version of the Skye Terrier, and was the progenitor of today’s Yorkshire Terrier. The Paisley Terrier was described in 1894 as “an excellent house dog, and most suitable for a lady who wishes something more substantial than a toy”, but the care requirements for the coat made it less desirable than some other popular breeds as a pet.

St. John’s Water Dog

The St. John’s Water Dog, also called the St. John’s Dog or the Lesser Newfoundland, was a naturally-occurring dog breed from Newfoundland. Little is known of the breeds that went into its creation, although it was likely a random-bred mix of old Irish, English, and Portuguese working breeds. This breed is the ancestor of the modern Retrievers; including the Flat Coated Retriever, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, the Golden Retriever, and the Labrador Retriever. The St. John’s Dog was also the founding breed of the large and gentle Newfoundland dog, likely as a result of breeding with mastiffs brought to the island by the generations of Portuguese fishermen who had been fishing offshore since the 15th century. The St. John’s dog was made extinct in its homeland by a combination of two factors. In an attempt to encourage sheep raising, heavy restrictions and taxes were placed on dog ownership during the 19th century.

Tahltan Bear Dog

Raised by the Tahltan Natives to hunt bear, the Tahltan Bear Dog was a mighty power in a small package. The Tahltan Bear Dog had the courage to face a bear, but was friendly and gentle with smaller animals and with humans. They lived in the tent with the family, sharing bed and board. Descended from pariah-type dogs that had come with prehistoric migrations, the Tahltan Dogs were centralized in the remote mountainous areas of northwestern British Columbia and the Southern Yukon. Their usual diet was small bits of birds, meat and fish, and they flourished in the bitter cold. Outside their native environment, they succumbed to distemper, heat prostration and problems due to dietary changes. As white explorers came into the territory, bringing a variety of other dogs, the Tahltan Dog became diluted.


Ancient Egyptians gave the name Tesem Tesem ( = tsm) to curly tailed dogs that resembled a sighthound such as a Greyhound. These dogs were featured on monuments, and in wall paintings that showed their tall, lean body with the noticeable prick ears. They had a greyish-yellow coat, with long legs and a broad prominent forehead. Their size exceeded the Pariah dogs of the time. Their structure of their skeleton was closer to the modern terrier than that of the modern greyhound.

Turnspit Dog

The Turnspit Dog was a short-legged, long-bodied dog bred to run on a wheel, called a turnspit or dog wheel, to turn meat so it would cook evenly. It is also known as the Kitchen Dog, the Cooking Dog, the Underdog and the Vernepator. This took both courage (to stand near the fire) and loyalty (not to eat the roast). Due to the strenuous nature of the work, a pair of dogs would often be worked in shifts. This may have led to the proverb ‘every dog has his day.’ The dogs were also taken to church to serve as foot warmers. Just as the invention of the spinning-jenny abolished the use of distaff and wheel, which were formerly the occupants of every well-ordained English cottage, so the invention of automaton roasting-jacks has destroyed the occupation of the Turnspit Dog, and by degrees has almost annihilated its very existence.



according to billionaire entrepreneur Robert Sillerman — who four years ago spent 100 million bucks on the lion’s share of Elvis Presley’s estate — the BBC reported in 2002 that IRS information indicates 84,000 people in the U.S. claim “Elvis impersonating” as their job…

in other 84k news…

The Republic of Seychelles is an island country 932 miles east of mainland Africa with a population of 84,000, the smallest of any African state…  (WIKIPEDIA)

The National Statistics Office will engage the services of 84,000 additional personnel to help in the conduct of the 2010 Census… (BUSINESS MIRROR 5.16.10)

The Wyoming Dept. of Environmental Quality says cleanup continues after a pipeline break caused 84,000 gallons of crude oil to spill in the Bridger Valley…  (BILLINGS GAZETTE 4.25.10)

The White House says President Obama’s stimulus bill was responsible for 84,000 jobs during the first quarter of 2010…  (STAR NEWS 4.16.10)

On July 25, Singapore will host its largest synchronized mass-walking event, which will involve 84,000 residents…  (ASIAONE NEWS 4.5.10)

The Australian Crime Commission has released figures showing police arrested 84,000 people in relation to illegal drugs last year…  (ABC NEWS 1.8.10)

Companies in the U.S. cut 84,000 jobs in December, according to data compiled in the ADP National Employment Report…  (BLOOMBERG 1.6.10)

Last week 84,000 new cases of the swine flu virus were reported, as experts predicted another spike as the weather gets colder…  (THE TIMES 11.10.09)

Britain’s government confirmed that it lost a digital memory device containing information on 84,000 prisoners, every inmate in England…  (MSNBC 8.22.08)

the “84,000 Buddhas” at the Ichibata-Yakushi temple in Japan, represent the 84,000 ideas which pollute the mind and body…


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