Blue Flame sets World Land Speed Record

imageOn 23 October 1970 Gary Gabelich set a land speed record in a rocket-powered automobile called the Blue Flame, fueled with natural gas.The Blue Flame was the rocket-powered vehicle driven by Gary Gabelich that achieved the world land speed record on Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah on October 23, 1970. The vehicle set the FIA world record for the flying mile at 622.407 mph (1,001.667 km/h) and the flying kilometer at 630.388 mph (1,014.511 km/h). Blue Flame was constructed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin by Reaction Dynamics, a company formed by Pete Farnsworth, Ray Dausman and Dick Keller who had developed the first hydrogen peroxide rocket dragster,called the X-1 and driven by Chuck Suba.Blue Flame used a combination ofhigh-test peroxide and liquified natural gas (LNG), pressurized by helium gas. The effort was sponsored by The American Gas Association, with technical assistance from the Institute of Gas Technology of Des Plaines, IL. Reaction Dynamics” was formed in 1965 and started out as “DFK Enterprises”, for Dausman, Farnsworth and Keller. At that time Dick Keller worked part time as a research assistant into gas technology at the Illinois Institute of Technology, which was the research arm of the American Gas Association. Pete Farnsworth was a Top Fuel dragster racer.The engine of Blue Flame was designed by Reaction Dynamics, Inc. and some of the components were manufactured by Galaxy Manufacturing Co. ofTonawanda, New York. Galaxy Mfg. Co. was formed in 1966 by Donald J Magro and Gerald Muhs and was principally engaged in flow control systems, cavitating venturi, and precision machining fields.The Blue Flame engine is a regeneratively cooled, liquid-propellent engine of the variable thrust type. It can operate on either a single or dual-propellant basis. In operation, the engine permits natural gas use as a liquid or gas or both with a two-stage combustion start. The oxidizer flow is established first, then LNG enters a heat exchanger where it vaporizes and is brought to combustion temperature. The gas is then injected into the combustion chamber with the oxygen provided by the hydrogen peroxide. A stable flame front is established and the remaining LNG is injected to bring the engine to full power. Nominal design engine running time was 20 seconds at full thrust of 22,500 pounds-force (100,000 N) generating the equivalent of 58,000 horsepower (43,000 kilowatts).Dick Keller stated that the Goodyear Tire Company restricted their top speed to 700 mph (1,126.541 km/h). Reaction Dynamics subsequently modified the LNG flow in the 2-stage LNG injector system to almost halve the maximum thrust. The actual thrust during the record runs was between 13,000 pounds (5,900 kilograms) [equivalent of 35,000 horsepower (26,000 kilowatts) and 15,000 pounds (6,800 kilograms)

According to Dick Keller the kilometer timing traps were inside the mile. The Blue Flame record runs involved accelerating continuously to the mile mid-point, then coasting through the mile. The peak speed, of approximately 650 mph (1,046.074 km/h) was reached at that point and then the vehicle decelerated the rest of the way. The kilometer speed trap was biased towards one end of the mile, resulting in the 8 mph (12.875 km/h) higher speed. The frame of the Blue Flame is a semi-monocoque type aluminum, with welded tubular structure in the nose section and with an aluminum “skin.” The vehicle is 37 feet 4.6 inches (11.394 m) long, 8 feet 1.5 inches (2.477 m) high to the top of the tail fin , 7 feet 8 inches (2.34 m) wide and the wheelbase is 306 inches (7.8 m). It has an empty weight of 4,000 pounds (1,800 kilograms) and is approximately 6,600 pounds (3,000 kilograms) fully fueled and loaded.The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. designed 8:00-25 tires for the vehicle, with an outside diameter of 34.8 inches (880 mm) and smooth tire tread surface to help prevent heat buildup using Nitrogen gas at 350 pounds per square inch (24 bar] The Blue Flame is now on permanent exhibition at the Auto- and Technik Museum Sinsheim in Germany.

Gummo Marx

Being a big fan of the Marx Brothers I thought I would do a post about American vaudeville performer and theatrical agent Milton “Gummo” Marx, who was born October 21 or 23, 1892 or 1893. He was the fourth-born of the Marx Brothers. Born in New York City, he worked with his brothers on the vaudeville circuit, but left acting when he was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War I, years before his four brothers (Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, and Zeppo Marx) began their film career.Marx was born in New York City. His parents were Sam Marx (called “Frenchie” throughout his life), and his wife, Minnie Schoenberg Marx. Minnie’s brother was Al Schoenberg, who changed his name to Al Shean when he went into show business. He was half of Gallagher and Shean, a noted vaudeville act of the early 20th century. Marx’s family was Jewish. His mother was from Dornum in East Frisia; and his father was a native of Alsace, and worked as a tailor.

His military service began shortly before the Armistice, and he was therefore never sent overseas. After leaving the army, Gummo, who in an interview said he never liked being on stage, went into the raincoat business. Later he joined with his brother Zeppo Marx and operated a theatrical agency. After that collaboration ended, Gummo represented his brotherGroucho Marx and worked on the television show The Life of Riley, which he helped develop. He also represented other on-screen talent and a number of writers.Gummo was well respected as a businessman. He rarely had contracts with those he represented, his philosophy being that, if they liked his work, they would continue to use him, and if not, they would seek representation elsewhere.

Gummo was given his nickname because he had a tendency to be sneaky backstage, and creep up on others without them knowing (like a gumshoe). Another explanation cited by biographers and family members is that Milton, being the sickliest of the brothers, often worerubber overshoes, also called “gumshoes,” to protect himself from taking sick in inclement weather.He married Helen von Tilzer on March 16, 1929. Their son, Robert, was born in 1930.

Gummo died on April 21, 1977, at his home in Palm Springs, California from a cerebral hemorrhage following two strokes. His death was never reported to Groucho, who by that time had become so ill and weak that it was thought the news would be of further detriment to his health. Groucho died four months later.His grandsons are actors Gregg Marx, Chris Marx, and actor/producer Brett Marx, who as a child actor appeared as ‘Jimmy Feldman’ in 1976’s comedy film The Bad News Bears.When Richard J. Anobile asked Groucho in The Marx Bros. Scrapbook which brother to whom he was closest, Groucho replied. “Gummo. He’s a nice man, and that’s more than I can say for Zeppo.”

Ang Lee

2013-10-23-14-54-40-1996293285Academy Award winning Taiwanese-born American film director, screenwriter and producer Ang Lee; was born October 23, 1954. Throughout his career, Ang Lee has sought to explore complex themes in his movies. His earlier films frequently sought to explore the relationships and conflicts between tradition and modernity, eastern and western. This is clearly evident in films such as The Wedding Banquet, Pushing Hands, Eat Drink Man Woman. Lee also adeptly deals with the complexities of human emotion (particularly repressed, hidden emotions) in many of his films including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hulk, and Brokeback Mountain. Whatever Lee has chosen to deal with in his films, he has done so in a way that demonstrates his remarkable insight into the human heart. It is this insight which has allowed his films to transcend cultural and linguistic barriers to speak to audiences all over the world Lee has won the Academy Award for Best Director twice, first for Brokeback Mountain(2005) and most recently for Life of Pi (2012). He also won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). He is the first person ofAsian descent to win an Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA for Best Director, and the only director to win two Best Film Awards (Golden Bear) at the Berlin International Film Festival.

His first film Pushing Hands (1992) was a success in Taiwan both among critics and at the box office. It received eight nominations in the Golden Horse Film Festival, Taiwan’s premier film festival. Inspired by the success, Li-Kong Hsu collaborated with Lee in their second film, The Wedding Banquet (1993), which won the Golden Bear at the 43rd Berlin International Film Festival and was nominated as the Best Foreign Language Film in both the Golden Globe and the Academy Awards. In all, this film collected eleven Taiwanese and international awards and made Lee a rising star. These first two movies were based on stories of Chinese Americans, and both were filmed in the US.In 1995, Hsu invited Lee to return to Taiwan to make Eat Drink Man Woman, a film that depicts traditional values, modern relationships, and family conflicts in Taipei. The film was a box office hit and was critically acclaimed. For a second consecutive year, Lee’s film received the Best Foreign Language Film nomination in both the Golden Globe and Academy Awards, as well as in the British Academy Award. Eat Drink Man Woman won five awards in Taiwan and internationally, including the Best Director from Independent Spirit.The three films show the Confucian family at risk and star the Taiwanese actor Sihung Lung to form what has been called Lee’s “Father Knows Best” trilogy.

MV5BMTY5NTAzNTc1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNDY4MDc3._V1._SX450_SY667_Lee’s three acclaimed first dramas opened the door to Hollywood for him. In 1995, Lee directed Columbia TriStar’s British classic Sense and Sensibility. The switch from Taiwanese to British films did not prevent Lee’s work from garnering awards: Sense and Sensibility made Lee a second-time winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. It was nominated for 7 Academy Awards, and won Best Adapted Screenplay for screenwriter Emma Thompson, who also starred in the movie alongside Hugh Grant and Kate Winslet. Sense and Sensibility also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama.After this, Lee directed two more Hollywood movies: The Ice Storm (1997), a drama set in 1970s suburban America, and Ride with the Devil, an American Civil War drama (1999). Although the critics still highly praised these latter two films, their box office was not impressive, and for a time this interrupted Lee’s unbroken popularity – from both general audiences and arthouse aficionados – since his first full-length movie. However, in the late 1990s and 2000s, The Ice Storm has had high VHS and DVD sales and rentals and repeated screenings on cable television, which has increased the film’s popularity among audience. In 1999, Li-Kong Hsu, Lee’s old partner and supporter, invited him to make a movie based on the traditional Chinese “wuxia” (martial arts and chivalry) genre. Excited about the opportunity to fulfill his childhood dream, Lee assembled a team from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Mainland China for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). The film was a surprising success worldwide. With Chinese dialogue and English subtitles, the film became the highest grossing foreign film in many countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, and was nominated in 10 categories at the Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Foreign Language Film, and Best Director. It ended up winning Best Foreign Language Film and three technical awards. The success of Crouching Tigerdemonstrated that Lee’s artistry had a general appeal; it also inspired such established directors as Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige to explore wuxia films for Western audiences.

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BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ayBQteRBvyI

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Life_of_Pi_11In 2003, Lee returned to Hollywood to direct Hulk, his second big-budget movie after the disappointment of Ride with the Devil’s restricted release. The film received mixed reviews and became a moderate success, grossing over $245 million at the box office. After the setback, Lee considered retiring early, but his father encouraged him to continue making movies.Lee decided to take on a small-budget, low-profile independent film based on Annie Proulx’s Pulitzer Prize-finalist short story,Brokeback Mountain. In a 2005 article by Robert K. Elder, Lee was quoted as saying, “What do I know about gay ranch hands in Wyoming?” In spite of the director’s removal from the subject at hand, Brokeback Mountain showcased Lee’s skills in probing the depths of the human heart. The 2005 movie about the forbidden love between two Wyoming sheepherders immediately caught public attention and became a cultural phenomenon, initiating intense debates and becoming a box office hit.The film was critically acclaimed at major international film festivals and won Lee numerous Best Director and Best Picture awards worldwide. Brokeback Mountain was the most acclaimed film of 2005, winning 71 awards and an additional 52 nominations. It won theGolden Lion (best film) award at the Venice International Film Festival and was named 2005’s best film by the Los Angeles, New York, Boston, and London film critics. It also won best picture at the 2005 Broadcast Film Critics Association, Directors Guild of America,Writers Guild of America (Adapted Screenplay), Producers Guild of America and the Independent Spirit Awards as well as the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama, with Lee winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Director. Brokeback also won Best Film and Best Director at the 2006 British Academy Awards (BAFTA). Brokeback Mountain was nominated for a leading eight Oscars and was the front runner for Best Picture heading into the March 5 ceremony, but lost out to Crash, a story about race relations in Los Angeles, in a controversial upset. He became the first person of Asian heritage and the first non-white person to ever win the Best Director at the Academy Awards. In 2006, following his Best Director Oscar, Ang Lee was bestowed the Order of Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon, the second highest civilian honour, by the Taiwanese government.

After Brokeback Mountain, Lee returned to a Chinese topic. His next film was Lust, Caution, which was adapted from a short novel by the Chinese author Eileen Chang. The story was written in 1950, and was loosely based on an actual event that took place in 1939–1940 in Japanese-occupied Shanghai, China, during World War II. Similar to Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee adapted and expanded a short, simple story into a feature film in a way that allows individual figures to develop sophisticated layers of reserved emotions, without being sidetracked by complicated plots or overstuffed material.Lust, Caution was distributed by Focus Features and premiered at international film festivals in the summer and early fall of 2007. In the US, the movie received a NC-17 rating (no one 17 and under admitted) from the MPAA mainly due to several strongly explicit sex scenes. This was a challenge to the film’s distribution because many theater chains in the United States refuse to show NC-17 films. The director and film studio have decided not to appeal the decision. Lee removed 9 minutes from the film to make the content suitable for minor audiences in order to be permitted to show Lust, Caution in mainland China.Lust, Caution captured the Golden Lion from the 2007 Biennale Venice Film Festival, making Lee the winner of the highest prize for the second time in three years (Lee is one of only four filmmakers to have ever won the Golden Lion twice). When Lust, Caution was played in Lee’s native Taiwan in its original full-length edition, it was very well received. Staying in Taiwan to promote the film and to participate in a traditional Chinese holiday, Lee got emotional when he found that his work was widely applauded by fellow Taiwanese. Lee admitted that he had low expectations for this film from the US audience since “its pace, its film language – it’s all very Chinese.” Indeed, the film was ignored by the Oscars, receiving zero nominations, despite the generally positive critical reception and the fact most of Ang Lee’s past films had received multiple Academy Award nominations. It was snubbed even from consideration in the Best Foreign Language Film category; after being officially submitted by Taiwan, the Academy ruled that an insufficient number of Taiwanese nationals had participated in the production, thus disqualifying it from further consideration.Lee was chosen as president of the jury for the 2009 edition of the Venice Film Festival that took place from September 2 to 12, 2009

Lee’s next film after 2009’s Taking Woodstock was Life of Pi, which was adapted from the novel of the same name written by Yann Martel.The story was a retrospective first-person narrative from Pi, a then 16-year-old boy from India, who is the only human to survive the sinking of a freighter on the way from India to Canada. He finds himself on a lifeboat with an orangutan, a hyena, a wounded zebra and a Bengal tiger. During this unlikely journey, young Pi questions and reassures his belief in God and the meaning of life. The novel was once considered impossible to make into a movie, but Lee persuaded 20th Century Fox to invest $120 million and heavily relied on 3D special effects in post-production. Unlike most other sci-fi precedents, Lee explores the artistic horizon of applying 3D effects and pushes the boundary of how this technology can serve the movie’s artistic vision. The movie made its commercial premiere during the Thanksgiving weekend of 2012 in the US and worldwide and became a highly critical and box office success. In January 2013, Life of Piearned 11 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Visual Effects; only one fewer than Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. He went on to win the Academy Award for Best Director.In 2013 he was selected as a member of the main competition jury at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival