Not Dead Yet

A few folks have corresponded with me via email about this, but I feel like I should address it here as well.

This was originally posted to Siffblog; I try to crosspost here as well.

Tablet has announced that the current issue, #103, will be the final edition of the magazine. While Siffblog has been affiliated with Tablet, I have used only my own resources to create and host the blog; therefore, I see no reason that Siffblog should cease operations.

However, I have been thinking about what the best route forward for the blog is. An informal relationship with one or more paper-based local publications would be mutually beneficial to all parties, I believe, publishers, publicists, film freaks, and film writers included.

I also would like to strengthen or formalize this blog’s ties to existing local film arts organizations. In an ideal world, this site would publish updated schedules and times for all of these organizations at no cost to them in order to expand online information resources about small-audience film.

In short, I have some thinking to do, which will produce some work for me. Sometime in the next month, I probably will do a site redesign – as simple as possible, mind you, as we’re currently househunting and that is really time consuming. After that, I will probably have a decent plan in place for the blog. For now, though, dear contributors, please do not fret: the Siffblog abides, man, the Siffblog abides.

Please continue doing what you’ve done to the place. It really helps to pull it all together.

P. S. Perhaps now it’s time to have a Siffblog party – slash – wake for Tablet?


As Paul drafted me to participate in this World Blog Day thing, I assembled a list of blog-types outside my normal blog-pale. However, I restricted my search to blogs of direct personal interest to me based on my life experiences. As an anti-chain-letter type, though, I decline to pass this along.

I have lived in both Mexico and Chile, and my wife is Cuban. Therefore, poking about for some Spanish-language blogs struck me as worthwhile. Now, I’m pretty much illiterate in Spanish, which means I am limited in my ability to follow the content. Be that as it may, I set out to locate a blog each of interest based in Cuba, Mexico, and Chile.

Tojomik appears to blog from Viña del Mar, Chile, where I lived in 1969. I had no luck tracking down a Havana-based blog (Google results for anything related to Havana are hopelessly junked up with political ranting and fingerpointing of both left and right). originates in Guadalajara, as does the French-language Blogue du Colegio Franco-Mexicano de Guadalajara.

Speaking of French, I have also lived in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and in this instance, the language stuck. Every now and then I wander through the Francophone side of the blogosphere, generally returning with a chastened sense of my own ignorance of the language. Given recent events, I thought it would be interesting to find an American blog in French published down Louisiana way. I also figured I should be able to dig a few up from Lausanne, the town I lived in while in Switzerland.

From Lousiana, we find Mais oui, la Louisiane! Il apparait que la Louisiane peut-etre inundeé et qu’elle a referé aux Google Actualité “pour lire de ce qui se passe en Louisiane.”

According to the geographic locator site above, is Lausanne-based, among 19 results. Random sampling revealed three abandoned or abortive blogs among the 19.

Finally, my family has had a long-standing and intimate relationship with an Algerian Berber family who sent one of their sons to the US fro graduate school. We visited them high in the Kabilye, a mountainous province to the south of Algiers, while we lived in Switzerland. Algeria has had a hard row to hoe over the past twenty-odd years, and thus I was uncertain that I would find anything from the country. The Berbers are a Muslim people that are distinct from Arab, and who have struggled within Algeria for the right to pursue education in their own language and script in addition to the predominant official languages of French and Arabic. It’s thought that the Berber presence in North Africa long predates the Roman. Interestingly, this language was also found in the Canary Islands, the part of Spain my father-in-law’s family emigrated to Cuba from around the turn of the century.

Of course, there are multiple resources to locate Algerian bloggers. To my frustration, though, I struck out on locating an Algerian Berber blogger; I did locate a sporadically updated blog, blognnegh…, identified as in Tamazeight, however.

How to build a Zeppelin

Once again, short on time, enough so that I regret to report that his entry shall undoubtedly suffer. In the machine migration I appear to have left some nifty Word macros behind that allowed me to do a certain amount of basic HTML in that app without having to resort to cleaning up the beast’s unruly, overfeatured HTML. So I’ll take a crack at using the new-ish version of ecto, which in the past has had some uncomfortable interactions with my (certainly crufted-up) server-side perl. Well, it’s still early days yet, a bit of trial and error, which happily brings us to the subject of today’s Blimp Week II installment.

A word about vocabulary, here: while this series is collectively referred to as Blimp Week, in fact I hope to write only about rigid airships this week. Rigid airships are known collectively as dirigibles, and the specific dirigibles designed by the airship company founded by Ferdinand von Zeppelin and associated engineers are known as Zeppelins. Today, a new company with the same name (almost) builds and flies the modern airships called Zeppelin NT. As Viv pointed out in a comment yesterday, you can purchase one, if you like.

So how does one build an airship? Well, in January I highlighted the card model of the never-built Vickers Transoceanic Airship from the terrific Currell’s Card Models. He also offers the British R-101 airship and more, but we’ve covered all of this already. For these airships, a true ruler, a sharp blade, keen eyes, and a steady hand will get you far. Elmer’s glue will close the gap. Of course, cardmodeling leaves something to be desired in the didactics, since the paper itself provides the rigidity for the models. (More on the ill-starred British aviation programme may be taken in at the Airship Heritage Trust or, for Francophones, Les dirigeables R-100 et R-101.)

I’m sorry to keep pointing out prior art, but the next links due for perusal were covered here in July. Dannysoar, (an amazing storehouse of aviation gimcrackery) provides the basic info on some antique stick-and-tissue model dirigibles at Zepps, while Building Airships and Flying-Machines comes to us from the good offices of one Glenn Curtiss, noted aviation pioneer. Lucky for us, we can fact check his ass with the slightly more modern Details of Modern Airships, 1927.

For a more hands-on approach, the preferred methodology is the rustlin’ up of historical photos and obtaining plan drawings of the ship you are interested in building. The good news is that there are many places to view images of the historical ships on the web. The bad news is that there are very few plan drawings available online. Here are two.


(Apologies for the too-small thumbs. ecto didn’t have an obvious image-upload options dialog.) The image above is from this page of construction views of the USS Akron; it’s a part of this U. S. Navy collection of vintage aviation equipment photos. The image below is from a forgotten source, but is clearly a comparison drawing showing the Shenandoah and a proposed but not-yet-built airship.


Where do you get plans? Well, many libraries list collections of lighter-than-air related material online. Interesting collections of ephemera surface for auction, as well. But the only places I found that offer access to a wide range of plans are the somewhat related ABAC (“THE ASSOCIATION OF BALLOON AND AIRSHIP CONSTRUCTORS”) and one “G. Wright – Airships.” The ABAC apparently has a collectively-maintained library that you pay dues to get access to, and Mr. Wright sells plans – lots of plans – of any kind of airship, as well as a wide range of LTA-related stuff. The ABAC notes that issue 27-1 of their newsletter is available online, in PDF. The page does not mention that issues 22-1 and 27-2 are also available. 27-1 has a highly detailed overview of “Great Britain’s 23X Class Rigid Airships,” by Kent O’Grady, which appeals to me greatly but which may also be too technical for me to properly absorb. I look forward to it.

Given that you’ve plan in hand, however obtained, what’s next? In general, the accepted practice would appear to be one of obtaining large amounts of balsa wood, and pinning the wood to the plan to be shaped and cut. A large number of intermediate steps then take place, which we shall leave as an exercise for the reader. The finished product may not, in all cases, be quite as remarkable as this World War 1 combat zeppelin, the L31 (see the Dawn of Aces section in How to Fly a Zeppelin).

These model pages, by the way, come from the The Zeppelin Library, a venerable collection of zeppelinalia. The highlight of the model pages, though, is clearly the work seen here, by Ed Gailliot. Featured on the page are three model sets, so detailed and of such scale that they clearly deserve a home in a museum display. The first of the models depicts the crew quarters and aircraft hangar bays of the USS Macon and USS Akron, complete with aircraft and tiny beds, and appear to contain elaborate moving parts. The scale 1/32, but is not visually given. In a picture of Ed standing next to his handiwork the bay model appears to be about four feet wide, making it something like five or six feet long.

The next model is of the great airship hangar in Akron, Ohio, home of Goodyear, and featured on the logo below. The model appears to be several feet long and includes the Akron, a mooring mast, and a tiny Navy patrol blimp, of the kind we think of when the Goodyear Blimp comes to mind.

Finally, and in some ways most fascinating, are the images of Ed’s quite large model of the Hindenburg’s passenger decks, including both the crew quarters and the staterooms, smoking area, dining room, and so forth. More detailed images of all of these models would be a great and wonderful thing, as would a chance to hear Ed discussing his creation process. Here’s hoping that they are safely stored away and destined for a warm, well-budgeted museum display somewhere.

This concludes the modeling portion of our flight this week.


in a lonely place

Saturday night, I caught two Bogart films on TMC, 1951’s uneven The Enforcer, a fictionalization of the discovery and prosecution of the notorious Murder, Inc., and a great film I’d unaccountably missed in my peerings at and mumblings on the era’s work.

That film is In a Lonely Place (1950), based on the recently-republished Dorothy Hughes title of the same name. earlier this year, Bookslut ran an intriguing, thoughtful appreciation of the original book.

I won’t rehash the plot here, but I will reiterate Bookslut’s note that the film is much changed from the original. Bogart plays Dixon Steele, whom Hughes presents as a wannabe writer; in the film, he’s a has-been screenwriter.

The film’s writers, Andrew Solt and Edmund North, have a ball with the screenwriter’s tension between book and film, going out of their way to establish the screenwriter’s obligation to discard the book. The film’s tense narrative kicks off with the murder of a hat check girl last seen at Steele’s home. She has come by to retell the narrative of a potboiler that Steele is being sought to adapt. Steele makes no bones about his contempt for the source material.

Perhaps I was sensitized to this content by last year’s wonderful Adaptation – but I sure didn’t find any commentary about it elsewhere on the web.

The film is one of the most effective films I’ve ever seen Bogart in, and I highly recommend it to you.

Hi ho

Although there is a bus ride in the middle, here are the things I see every day on my way to work. Yesterday morning, though, there was an added attraction: the burned-out remnants of Hillcrest Market.

A walk to work.

(Grumble. The captions didn’t come over from iPhoto and I’m out of steam.)

54 Buick P-40 Special


As we drove south on Chuckanut Drive, overlooking the waters that hold the San Juans, we came across this lovely militarian art car, lableled in stencil on the trunk “54 Buick Special P-40.”

The car also featured what I’d have to describe as ‘tail art,‘ and a front-facing fifty-caliber machine gun in the back seat, not clearly visible in my picture. Also not visible in my pix are the detailed additional rivets added to the skin of the car to make it look more like a vintage warbird.

Oddly, a year ago, on Chuckanut, I also photographed an extreme militarian conversion of a Porsche 911 4×4, this one without apparent armament, although shrunken heads were noted.


I could reload my website all day long, just watching my spiffy new randomizing header reload and change. I loves me summa dat ol’ woodtype, yers I do.

Alas, though, for Photoshop’s v.7 lack of the excellent Illustrator filters that so beautifully allow random shifts of baseline and edge to be gently inflected ‘pon the bodies of the glyphs, in earnest pursuit of the organickally worn type our forefathers knew and endured.

Did you know, as far as I can tell, that it is simply not possible to order the fine letterpress tchotschkes produced in the lovely type shop of Ye Olde Colonial Williamsburg online? Will no-one make an appeal to King George, that ye internette may be mayde availabbule to the fine & industryous colonials?

Alas, too, that there is no third dimension avalilable to provide texture in the context of ye webbe payge. Were it so, I would marke this to be nubbly and stiffe, with a ridged embossing, like the book it imitates.

Oo-er! Looka this! Some luverly mud o’er ‘ere!