• Old Photos: 1957 Ruskin Heights Tornado

    All the devastation happening around the country this year has a direct parallel to the weather events of 1957 when an unusually high number of tornadoes and floods caused a significant death toll and property loss. Everyone in this area knows about the F5 Ruskin Heights tornado that destroyed a neighborhood in Kansas City  but it was only one of the 57 tornadoes registered during the 3 day period in May of 1957 which killed 59 people.

    These pictures taken for the Life Magazine article “New Terror in a Savage Spring, A Record Rampage of Tornadoes and Sudden Floods” are not that different from what we see on the news from Joplin, MO, Reading, KS and Oklahoma. In 54 years the science and technology didn’t significantly improve our safety, and although we have better storm warning and detection systems and instant channels of communicating the information to the affected areas, this article could have been written today – from devastation and tragedy to looters – not much have changed.

    Missourians groping their way, stunned and bleeding, from homes just shattered by a tornado, were the latest terrified victims of a terrifying season for the Southwest and Midwest……In the battered area all this seemed to confirm a widespread belief that the weather patterns in the region were changing and producing more tornadoes than ever…


    ©Time Inc. Grey Villet

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  • Dueling Billboards of Missouri

    The state of Missouri takes its “show-me state” nickname literally, and there is no shortage of places where certain things are shown to the citizens and guests of the state.

    Billboards for the adult mega-centers and superstores break the monotony of an average I-70 cross-state drive.

    The righteous citizens counteract the best they can. The following billboard is the Holy Grail of billboards. I frequently post on the subject of billboards here, but I don’t think I can ever top this one. To photograph this rare find I took a detour and put myself in danger parking on the side of the highway.
    What makes this billboard so unique is that until today I always read it as “Jesus saves and forgives pornography”, not having enough time to read the last line driving by at highway speeds. Apparently that’s not the case and that’s a pity, because Jesus would probably double the amount of followers if he did.
    There is no better place to educate people about abortion then the side of the highway. That’s where many people do most of their reading.

    As an unintended side-effect of my billboard hunting I discovered a creative way to deal with the native omnipresent Missouri front-yard pile of rusted metal. This resident of Concordia, MO can give KCMO artist Stretch some pointers on how to run a welder.

    Other flying objects were hidden in the building.

    Lastly, consider this your visit to Jonesburg, MO.

    The “pride in their heritage” museum is open on Sundays 2 to 4.

  • Jimmy Carter-ing at Lunch

    Some day I will go out to get lunch and come back dead or it least in a “critical but stable” condition. That’s because unlike the local lunch-reviewing icon who eats in the safety of Johnson County,I have to forage for food around the war zone a.k.a. Independence Ave. Its unpredictable mix of ethnicities, poverty and crime make every lunch trip an adventure.

    I am not sure where I ate today. I can see the place on Google Street View (it’s the white storefront to the left of the barber shop).

    View Larger Map
    I think it was called “Yasmine Cafe” but I can’t find it in the Yellow Pages, Google and anywhere else. This trip started few days ago when I noticed a sign advertising shish-kebab while driving around looking for Mexican food. Today I came to work with a thought to try some middle-eastern cuisine. I drove to the place and walked in. Small clean room with a few tables and booths and no signs of food, decorated with a TV with some Arabic channel, few paintings and a sign that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. Three guys hanging out in the dining room, watching TV. By the way, on Arabic TV the ticker at the bottom of the screen is moving in the opposite direction.

    I started to feel like Jimmy Carter on his way to talk to Hamas, except that he is not Jewish. I asked one of the guys if there is any way I can get some food to go, so one of them went to the back of the building and retrieved a nice guy who could speak English. I asked about food again to which he smiled and said “Do you want to know the menu?” and proceeded to make up and recite the menu from the top of his head. I recognized some items and ordered shish-kabob, rice and salad, and he also offered to get me some soup just to try. I asked him how much this would cost and after minor hesitation he said that he will give all this food to me for 8 dollars. I watched Arab TV for about ten minutes, they were talking about NYSE, probably enjoying the oil prices. Then a group of men walked through the building and all greeted me with As-Salāmu `Alaykum, I actually knew the reply (wa `Alaykum As-Salām) but decided to limit myself to diplomatic shaking of hands. I got my food, paid and left.

    The food was actually pretty good and there was so much that I split it in two decent size lunches. I also got a 16 inch flat bread to go with it. I didn’t really like the eggplant soup, it was to acidic for my taste. The rice had some vegetables in it and even a few raisins and was light and tasty. Kebabs were grilled and meaty. Salad had cucumbers and lettuce, nothing weird. If anything, I expected the food to be a little more spicy, but a co-worker who spent some time in the Middle East confirmed that it was pretty close to authentic.

    I am not sure if I’d recommend this place with no menu and all, try it at your own risk. I am still alive so food quality is not substandard. So just like Jimmy Carter, I am not only eating lunch, I am also improving Jewish-Arab relations, one kebab at a time.

  • Old Photos: May Day

    Another May Day is here and there is still plenty of time to celebrate by walking around with red flags, playing marching music and shouting the approved slogans:

    Long live the unity and close ties of the peoples of the nations of the socialist community! Let strengthen the indissoluble fighting union of the Communist parties of the socialist nations on the basis of the tested principles of Marxism- Leninism and proletarian internationalism!

    Fraternal greeting to the working class of the capitalist nations–a selfless fighter against exploitation and the domination of monopolies and for the rights of all workers, for peace, democracy and socialism!

    Warm greeting to the people of Latin America, carrying on a courageous struggle against the oppression of imperialist monopolies, against reaction and fascism, for free and independent development, for peace, democracy, and social progress!

    ©Time.James Whitmore

    US Communist Henry Winston at May Day celebration. ©Time.Stan Wayman

    Khrushchev and Fidel Castro in Red Square on May 1st.©Time. Stan Wayman

    Red Square, Moscow. May 1st,1961 ©Time.James Whitmore

  • A Little SFX Goes A Long Way

    If you are a female over the age of 6 or a male over 28 and posted an excited review or Transformers 2, your movie-reviewing bona fides are hereby revoked. The only exception is granted to those who were stoned or too upset over Michael Jackson’s death while watching this pile of robot rust.

    Two hours worth of repetitive CGI accompanied by non-stop metal clanging noises made me think how little was needed to impress a young viewer just 30-50 years ago. I remember my Dad telling me how during his school years everyone went crazy over the Tarzan movies with Johnny Weissmuller. The old Tarzan movies produced in the 1930s made it to the USSR as war trophies and were shown everywhere for years after WWII (In the following book clip start reading the paragraph starting with “Basically Hollywood…”).


    Many injuries resulted from attempting to swing on any hanging rope with one arm while imitating the Tarzan call.

    Cheesy special effects of the 1930s and even an obvious reusing of the same footage throughout the series didn’t prevent me from enjoying them when I saw Tarzan for the first time in the early 80s.
    When I was very young another movie took me and my classmates by a storm. Zorro probably caused more property damage than any movie before it, with a “sign of Zorro” drawn, engraved, chiseled or carved on everything with a surface.

    Speaking about cheesy special effects, how can one forget “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad“. When I was 8 or 9 the monsters from this movie looked totally real. Not so much anymore.

    In the late 70’s a Japanese movie The Legend of Dinosaurs and Monster Birds was the talk of the country, at a time when Jurassic Park wasn’t even a concept. From appetizer to dessert – One town becomes a monster meal – was the tagline.I still distinctly remember a half of a horse falling off the cliff, the other half bitten off by a dinosaur, and I still avoid bloody movies.

    Another scary Japanese movie of my childhood was the Sinking of Japan (Tidal Wave) which came out in 1973 and was remade in 2006. Here is a clip of a recent remake.

    You can imagine pitiful special effects of 1973 but I still remember it as a terrifying movie years later.
    There are plenty of acclaimed and beloved movies with really low-quality special effects, that did not benefit from a more sophisticated remake.
    Unfortunately no amount of special effects could benefit Transformers 2.