I’ll Be Back


In the 1930’s and 40’s, theater owners ran serials on Saturdays, each episode with a cliff-hanger ending designed to bring the children back the next Saturday to see if the hero and heroine had survived, however improbably, the poison gas, the pit of fire, the plunge from a great height, the sharp claws, the mighty jaws. I saw many of these serials on television in the 1950’s, and Flash Gordon was a particular favorite. You had to love Ming the Merciless, for his name alone, but you really had to love Dale Arden, the young earth-girl swept up into interstellar adventure, courted by Flash and desired by Ming (who had apparently been shopping for snappy outfits in Dale’s size long before she arrived on the planet Mongo).

I recently discovered that all three Flash Gordon movies are now on DVD, the box set selling for about $15, truly the deal of a lifetime, 13 episodes in each serial, 13 chances to see Jean Rogers as Dale, screaming, fainting, winning my heart all over again.


“No one has the courage to call me at home. It’s never been a rule, but that’s the attitude I give off. When I’m done, I’m done.”

— Renzo Rosso, CEO of the $1.6 billion Diesel jeans empire



To me, one of the tragedies of cutting down old trees is that they are gone forever. Mankind will never again let a tree grow for 100 years, let alone 700 or 1000 years. And when you compare trees to people, trees do relatively little harm in this world. Below, just the latest thoughtless crime, an evil that can never be undone:

“The crime seems so audacious: chopping down 27 old growth cedars on public land. The trees measured up to five feet in diameter. They were between 400-700 years old.

“Camano Islander Kevin John Moran pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government property for the felling of the trees from national forest land near Lake Wenatchee, according to a press release issued this week. The trees were cut and hauled away in the spring and summer of 2004 from what’s described by Anne Minden, a U.S. Forest Service criminal investigator, as ‘an isolated piece of national forest near the north end of Lake Wenatchee.’

“In an interview Thursday Minden said the trees were a significant loss. ‘It’s very unusual for the east side of the mountains to have this large of a cedar tree… You’re talking about something that is essentially irreplaceable.’

“A guilty plea was entered in Spokane District Court and sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 12, 2008. What does Moran face for killing trees that would take hundreds of years to replace, if they were to return at all?

“Theft of government property is a Class C felony, which means a maximum sentence of 10 years or less, and a fine not to exceed $250,000. In some cases Minden said they go after ecological damages as well, but that they weren’t in this situation. She said the reason why was complicated.

“The logging was reported by a concerned citizen a year after the theft occurred. Moran was identified because he had a vehicle on the property and also owned nearby land.

“The old growth trees went to mills in Western Washington. Investigators put their market value at $37,688.

“While old growth cedars are rare in Eastern Washington, Minden said she gets weekly reports of cedar thefts on the west side. Olympic, Mount Baker and Gifford Pinchot national parks are all favorite targets. In many cases — though apparently not Moran’s — the thieves are often associated with meth addicts, she said.”

— Posted by Lisa Stiffler at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer website.

Cold Mix

22 songs for cold weather, to fit on one CD, all available on iTunes:

“Winter: Largo” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
Cold — Annie Lennox
Cold, Cold, Cold — Little Feat
“Siberia” from Cole Porter’s Silk Stockings
“Troika” from Prokofiev’s Lt. Kije
Winter Time — Steve Miller
Cold, Cold Heart — Nora Jones
Frozen Lake — Rachel Portman
The Donner Party — Rasputina
Winter Was Hard — Kronos Quartet
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening — Robert Frost, read by Benjamin Pope
Some Children See Him — Nancy LaMott
Coldest Winter (excerpt) — Lewis Black
Baby, It’s Cold Outside — Dean Martin
Frost Flower — Moondog
“Battle on the Ice” from Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky
Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground — Blind Willie Johnson
First Snow — Bo Holten/BBC Singers
The Cremation of Sam McGee — Robert Service, read by Johnny Cash
The Snow Is Dancing — Debussy
Sinfonia Antartica: Landscape — Ralph Vaughn Williams
Frozen Man — James Taylor

Cooped Up

While researching the sport of polo on the Web, I stumbled across this illuminating snippet from a biography of professional wrestler Tommy Polo:

“Polo was eliminated by Brimstone with a ‘Chokeslam from Hell’ from the balcony to the floor of the JWA Arena. Polo was hospitalized, then a spell was cast upon him by the dark character, Vulcan. Vulcan had feuded with Polo in the past and this spell turned Polo into a real live chicken. Polo was not heard from for months.”

Flash Gordon, Yale and Polo


Yale graduates who have excelled at polo include J. Watson Webb, Winston Guest, Lewis E. Stoddard (chairman of the United States Polo Association, 1922-1936), Tom Buchanan (of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, 1925), Flash Gordon (of Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon comic strip which began in 1934, and subsequent movie serials with Buster Crabbe), William T. Ylvisaker, and Adam Snow.

Above, Flash Gordon fouls Ming the Merciless.

On Lap Dogs and Lap Cats

Few things make me happier than to have my little dachshund asleep on my lap. My nephew, Sean, however, prefers the company of cats:


This week he writes, “While in Thailand for a month, I missed having cats around so I went off to Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua, a buddhist temple near the border with Myanmar, where I was able to get some cat therapy. Attached are pictures of me with the little kitties. Hernfa is 4 years old and was fast asleep when I met him. Harnfa is just a youngster at 7 months and was more social.”

That’s Harnfa above; Hernfa is shown below: