Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Stern Metal Type From the Rimmer Type Foundry

This font is the creation of type founder Jim Rimmer.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dixi, custodiam. Psalm xxxix.
LORD, let me know mine end, and the number of my days; * that I may be certified how long I have to live.
    Behold, thou hast made my days as it were a span long, and mine age is even as nothing in respect of thee; * and verily every man living is altogether vanity.
    For man walketh in a vain shadow, and disquieteth himself in vain; * he heapeth up riches, and cannot tell who shall gather them.
    And now, Lord, what is my hope? * truly my hope is even in thee.
    Deliver me from all mine offences; * and make me not a rebuke unto the foolish. When thou with rebukes dost chasten man for sin, thou makest his beauty to consume away, like as it were a moth fretting a garment: * every man therefore is but vanity.
    Hear my prayer, O Lord, and with thine ears consider my calling; * hold not thy peace at my tears;
    For I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, * as all my fathers were.
    O spare me a little, that I may recover my strength, * before I go hence, and be no more seen.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

C'était un Rendezvous

"Yes, I was scared. I was scared of running out of film."

Speaking of car chases in beautiful European cities, I first came across this short film by Claude Lelouch a couple of years ago. The story goes that Lelouch had just finished directing Si C'était à Refaire, and at the end of the shoot still had some extra  film and a car-mounted camera. After Paris officials denied him a permit to close the required streets for the shoot he decided to take his chances at 5:30 in the morning. Limited by the short capacity of the  reel, Lelouch only had 9 minutes of film to take the whole shot. Driving his 6.9 liter Mercedes-Benz 450SEL he traversed Paris from the Porte Dauphine exit off the Boulevarde Périphérique to the Sacré Cœur going the wrong way down one-way streets in Montmartre, ignoring red lights, and jumping curbs to avoid garbage trucks. According to Lelouch the most dangerous point of the trip was a blind corner at the Louvre issuing into the Rou de Rivoli where he positioned an assistant with a walkietalkie (afterwords discovered to be disfunctional). Lelouch was arrested following the showing of the film and the footage passed the next few decades almost unknown. It was re-released on DVD in 2003.

A map of the film's route:

Bd Périphérique (exits at Porte Dauphine) - Av Foch - Pl Charles-de-Gaulle - Av des Champs-Elysées - Pl de la Concorde - Quai des Tuileries - Pl du Carrousel - R de Rohan - Av de l'Opera - Pl de l'Opéra - Fromental Halévy - R de la Chausée d'Antin - Pl d'Estienne d'Orves - R Blanche - R Pigalle - Pl Pigalle - Bd de Clichy - (aborted turn at R Lepic) - R Caulaincourt - Av Junot - Pl Marcel Aymé - R Norvins - Pl du Tertre - R Ste-Eleuthère - R Azais - Pl du Parvis du Sacré Cœur.

...Ethically questionable, but with far more panache than these retards with too much money.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The "Blue Danube" Sequence from The Italian Job

Why this amazing scene filmed in the Turin Motor Show Building with the Turin Symphony Orchestra was ever shot I do not know. Suffice it to say that it wasn't in keeping with the tone of the car chase and was the only deleted scene from the film... By the way, this movie has some wonderful shots of 1969 Turin.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Maps from Books VIII

The Seven Sunflower Seeds
By John Verney


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Edward Lear by W. H. Auden

Left by his friend to breakfast alone on the white
Italian shore, his Terrible Demon arose
Over his shoulder; he wept to himself in the night,
A dirty landscape-painter who hated his nose.

The legions of cruel inquisitive They
Were so many and big like dogs: he was upset
By Germans and boats; affection was miles away:
But guided by tears he successfully reached his Regret.

How prodigiuous the welcome was. Flowers took his hat
And bore him off to introduce him to the tongs;
The demon's false nose made the table laugh; a cat
Soon had him waltzing madly, let him squeeze her hand;
Words pushed him to the piano to sing comic songs;

And children swarmed to him like settlers. He became a land.

from W.H. Auden, Collected Shorter Poems 1927-1957,
London, Faber and Faber, 1966, p. 127.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Avenging Narwhal Playset

"Now, once a year, in a continuous effort to keep their enemies at bay, the Narwhal leave their homes to embark on a treacherous migration to Antarctica in the hunt for baby penguins and seal pups. Many will not return... Along their journey, they will spend time in Australia, swimming up stream to the inland habitat of the koalas, where they will actually leap out of the water to spear the deadly koalas from their perches high in the Eucalyptus trees."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Motomatic Watercooled Vespa/.....

Text and pictures courtesy Motomatic

Major Components
Vespa Grande: Frame & integrated Gas Tank
Honda Hobbit: Cases & Rear Wheel
Derbi Variant (Flat Reed): Crank, Clutch, Variator (TJT), Metrakit cylinder kit
Motomatic Exhaust: Destroyer
Motomatic Sub frame: Built by Nate out of thin walled 4130 steel tubing made to match a typical moped wheelbase of 44”.
Rear Shocks: Honda XR 75
Front Forks: Pit bike forks (last race used EBR race forks)
Front Wheel: 17” rim with a Motobecane hub with a pit bike disc affixed.
Rear Wheel: 16” rim with Honda Hobbit hub and GSXR 750 disc brake affixed.
Motomatic Powder Coating: Thank you Mike Rafter
Carburetor: OKO 21mm (changed to a 24mm)
Ignition: HP1 Puch ignition

The Assembly:
In addition to the assembly of these key parts much effort was put into how to get these parts to work together.
• The sub frame had to be offset to ensure the drive belt was aligned
• A special reed cage manifold was made to squeeze the largest reed cage (Gilardoni) within the stock mounting stud pattern and yet still have the reed pedal close as possible to the crank case and also direct flow directly into the transfer ports.
• The rear Honda Hobbit torque driver was modified so it can match the variation (movement) of the Derbi Variant Variator.
• The HPI ignition needed the taper re-machined for a good fit, the hobbit cases needed to be machined to fit the seals and Puch stator plate, and a stator plate base needed to be machined. 10 hours spent here.
• A custom seat had to be supported and fabricated. (Thanks to Nate)
• The 70cc Metrakit kit needed slight modification of the stud holes and small amount of epoxy was used on the cases to match the stock Metrakit base gasket shape. Also, a 1mm base gasket was used to keep 1mm clearance between the piston and head.

Road speed test with stock rear gears 69 MPH
Road speed test with Malossi rear gears 73.8 MPH

For more information and pictures check out the Motomatic post

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Maps from Books VII

Mistress Masham's Repose
by T. H. White

The Palace of Malplaquet based on Stowe School and Blenheim Palace.

"Tell me about the Horses."
"What about them?"
"Tell me," she said guiltily, "how they ought to be pronounced."
The Professor threw his head back firmly and began to neigh.
"Can you neigh?"
Maria tried, to see if she could.
"How did you do it?"
"Let me see, I kept my mouth shut, and I don't think my tongue moved, and I sort of kept on huffing out a wriggly squeal, through the back of my nose."
"You couldn't spell it very well, because you do it with your mouth shut. So there can't be any proper letters, really, not real vowels."
"Well, Dr. Swift used a 'hou' for the huffing part, and a Y for the squealy part, and N's and M's are the part in the nose, Houyhnhnm. It is what a horse says."
"It isn't very easy to pronounce in the book, not when you are reading aloud."
"It is only a question of practice," said the Professor grandly. "Practice and self-confidence." 
                                -From Chapter XXV

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Two tasty, soy bean fed yearling bucks on the evening of opening day:

Skinned, dressed and ready for butchering:

Saturday, November 7, 2009

It's Been A Hard... Day's... Night...

First, Laurence Olivier as Richard III:

And, Peter Sellers as Laurence Olivier as John Lennon...


Moby Dick - Chapter XXXII 
The word cloud was created using frequency of a word's use in the text to generate its relative size.

(click the image for more detail)

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Wicked Bible

Gandalf's resent penchant for defacing Bibles pointed me in the direction of the "Wicked Bible," now a valuable book published (for a short period) in 1631. It was intended to be a reprint of the King James, but owing to a crucial error in the composition of the type, omitted the "not" from the seventh commandment. Ooops... The error so outraged Charles I that he had the printers summoned to the Star Chamber where they were fined and lost their printing licenses.

King Charles's disgust with the event is made abundantly clear in this wonderfully nostalgic statement regarding the decline of the art of printing : "I knew the tyme when great care was had about printing, the Bibles especially, good compositors and the best correctors were gotten being grave and learned men, the paper and the letter rare, and faire every way of the beste, but now the paper is nought, the composers boyes, and the correctors unlearned." Oh what sad times are these...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Maps from Books VI

The Mysterious Island
by Jules Verne

“Lincoln Island” as engraved by Sédille for Hetzel,
based on a sketch by Verne. Mysterious Island (1875). 
Image from Science Fiction Studies

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Choose A Vista

And while we're at it... a little Ridley Scott:

And a UK add:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Crankshaft Bearings!

Just ordered two 6004-C3 bearings from Treats. I love ordering parts...

Rebuilding the PA50II's engine. Oil seals from ML Kevin.


With the longer frame the old Ducati cafe seat looks kind of silly.

I'm thinking something a little more boardtrack racer inspired, maybe a Puch saddle seat?

If I go with the saddle seat I'm thinking some boardtrack bars (read cruiser bike bars) instead of the clubmans

This picture from the amazing garage fabricator at Boardtrack Replica.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

New Italian Helmet


 Casco dalla calotta rivestita da una speciale vernice opaca e particolari in vera fibra di carbonio. Gli interni sono estraibili e lavabili. Una funzionalità studiata in particolare per i frequent bikers e per i motociclisti della bella stagione. Il design di questo modello jet prende ispirazione dal casco degli elicotteristi. Al corpo del casco, rifinito artigianalmente, viene unita una visiera termoformata a bolla antigraffio, supportata da una piastra in fibra di carbonio. La calotta è rivestita con una speciale vernice ecologica opaca gommata, impreziosita da due decal del logo MOMODESIGN. Omologazione ECE 22.05

I have wanted one of these for a long time. Here in Italy it doesn't get much cooler than a flashy Momodesign helmet. Yes, I was going to get a full-face and be safe, but then... Matte black, carbon fiber, white lettering...  Mine at last!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

MLM Custom Magnum

I have meant to make a post about this bike since we finished it last summer, but haven't had the complete photo shoot we did of it. Now that I have some time on my hands, I thought I'd just go ahead and post it, and perhaps update it later with some of the more detailed shots.

Made specially for a Chicago customer, this Magnum incorporates some of the must comprehensive customizations MLM has ever done. The main thing the customer wanted was a powerful and flashy Magnum that would stand out from all the rest. We went a little overboard.

Starting with the frame, we cut off everything that it didn't need. As we hard wired everything, we didn't need most of the wiring brackets, harness, lights etc.; besides we ran it all through the frame. Long-time Motion Lefter Eric Vandiepenbos notched the frame and then using mysterious and time consuming methods, put a little folded slot in where the cables (brakes, clutch, throttle and wiring) would come out above the engine (pictures later). He also helped us fabricate and weld in the gusset and the rear of the frame loop. Then we brazed in all the unnecessary holes, rough factory welds, and imperfections, even adding a specially made arbour-presses semisphere where the tube frame terminates under the seat (pictures later, but you can glimpse it in the above picture).

Devon's initial idea for the bike was the Negrini tank, originally to be left polished and powder coated (my Puchavus tank was sort of a test run). While this does look great, it takes a many hours of work, and any imperfections which might occur during the time it sits at the powder coater's shop (even an hour) can ruin the finish, and by this point we were already overdue for delivery. Besides, it just isn't polished aluminum alloy... So we ended up powder coating it to match the fenders. The fenders come off a '78 Motobecane Traveler, obviously bobbed to withing an inch of their lives. The front fender goes for a standard cafe look, but the rear fender we decided to have have spring with the swing arm with a notch for the chain; more sport bike, then cafe. We left the swing arm stock, rather then adding a robot-arm to retain the vintage look. Spokes, nipples, hubs, brake drums and rims were polished by yours truly. 

The engine we knew right away was going to have be a single speed large port Metra 80 with a 24mm Mikuni. We found a clean set of cases, had them bored out to fit the massive cylinder skirt of the Metra, then ended up spending way too much time trying to get enough aluminum added to provide a sufficient base gasket sealing surface around the massive transfer ports. I think I went through the cases at least twice port-matching those things... Next we fabricated one of our notorious intakes, which, though without proof, Devin is convinced add to the intake acoustics. The Mikuni, through experiments with Devin's Pinto (in which the carb would run dry at high rpm's), required larger hosing and even petcock. The float bowl dumps we ran, neatly coiled, into the engine mount with rubber grommets. Terminated with a glorious chrome Simonini expansion chamber, accompanied by the necessary left-side pedal extension, the engine set-up was peppy and had an even, wide power band. 

We chose a dark, almost black high-gloss blue for the frame, forks and swing arm and silver for the tank and fenders. The wheels, hubs and headlight rim, neon green, with matching vinyl on the tank and fenders. M-bars, IRC 2.5" tires and a completely custom "bumstop" seat, along leather tank belt, and a water-jet cut MLM logo in stainless steel under the tank completed the bike.

 Click for larger image
With 18:45 gearing, and a stable frame, the bike accelerates quite fast . The ride is firm and stable and is gives one far more confidence at speed (easily 60 when properly tuned over time as the cylinder breaks in) than the usual moped, cough-Puchavus-cough...
 Click for larger image
The bike runs great. Unfortunately, the customer had a get off (sort of) and didn't realize the expertise necessary with such a modified engine, especially if its a two stroke, so there have been a lot of preventable problems... but then that's the name of the moped game...
Well, a moped is sort of an unpreventable problem, but c'est la vie.

"It Was Too Much of a Burden On Me Shoulders"

"...And his eyes was wide open when he saw the objects."

                                                     -Terry Herbert, 55, of Burntwood in Staffordshire, who has been metal detecting for 18 years

"Rise up O Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate thee be driven from thy face."

Friday, September 25, 2009

Che Bella Figura!

I have to admit the few Moto Guzzi's I've seen haven't really impressed me that much. I guess I just don't like motorcycles with wheels that are too small or have the the model name "Nevada." Maybe Utah... there are some great bikes with names from Utah.

But then I saw this Moto Guzzi in Bologna today:

 I love those cylinders...

If I Had To...

Not that I would ever go out and buy a sports bike/fighter; I hate them.

                   But if I were compelled...

The Buell XB9SX might just do.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

This Month's Polini Cup Races

Pocket bikes, gokarts and dirt bikes aren't my thing either. Ignore them. Two strokes aren't all made with plastic, or at least they didn't used to be. The Polini Cup held at The Tom Dash Memorial Speedway in Atwater, California is a demonstration of how much intelligent 20 to 30 year old's have taught themselves about 2 stroke engineering in the last 15 years. The best example and culmination of this autodidactism being Motomatic's extraordinary made-to-order exhaust pipes which can be seen with devastating results in this video, Motion Left Moped's amazing custom builds which need no introduction in the moped scene, and a certain Nate Bandit's "Burt Munro-esque" monsters. In resent years the Moped Army has, in a sense, reinvented the entire story of motorcycling, from its early days as minimally powered bicycles barely breaking 25 mph to highly technical grafted, mutated, experimental fast bikes now going upwards of 70+mph. That's a lot when your talking 65-80cc's. This may sound counter-productive, but for those of us who have experienced the joy of buying a cheap 70's moped and then learning by trial and error, through friends, old lawnmower mechanics, and word of mouth the ins and outs of engine porting, timing, carburation, expansion chamber acoustics, or best of all happening on Graham Bell's "Two-stroke Performance Tuning" it has been an infinitely rewarding experience. Riding a 80-100lb bike at over 50mph is one of the most exilarating experiences I know of. Plus, anyone can ride a Harley they bought and pay someone else to fix, you have to be care-free and with the knowledge that you can fix just about anything on your bike to sit at a traffic light on a bike with bicycle tires that weighs less than you do. But then the shocked look people give you when you scream by their car makes up for it all... It's all about how much you know, or who you can get to help you learn more, and everyone builds there own bike. After all, if you can't rebuild your mark's engine you won't be riding a two stroke for more than a couple of weeks, especially with any engine modifications. Here's some footage from the latest Polini Cup Race:

Polini Cup September 2009 Moped race 1 from rafter on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


And Remember...

If your tax bill hurts
Vote for Kurtz!

For reals...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

From The Archives

The Way of the World, Continued...
Lief to Leave

          West Elmsborough-The state of New Hampshire expects 65,000 foliage viewers to visit the commonwealth this fall. Flocking to the White mountains, swarming the scenic byways, these fanatic leaf-lovers are arriving by bus, plane, automobile, motorcycle and even canoe. The entire economy of the small township of West Elmsborough relies on the autumn leaves, whose subtle tones they describe as “the color of money.” For several years the town has been trying to further exploit this phenomenon. Doughty town councilwoman Tribulation Winthrop has even suggested in a recent town meeting the spraying of all trees with a special, diluted variation of Agent Orange to bring on the fall colors a little sooner and thereby corner the fall foliage market for at least part of the season. This could prove useful if the nonexistent fall of 1958 repeats itself, a thing not even the staunchest old West Elmboroughians can remember without an ill-concealed tremor of fear.

           However, not every town citizen shares the same feelings on the yearly death of the photosynthetic process. Arnold P. Klarmann, the scowling, blue jean wearing president of the of the New Hampshire Leaf Free Lawn League, and proud owner of a turbo charged, 450 horse power, back-mounted leaf blower, sees leaves not as a money making enterprise, or even a relatively pleasant sight, but a rotting pollution seasonally covering the earth, and more importantly his lawn. Klarmann has been petitioning the town council for the last eight years to blow the still living leaves off the trees in late August. He wants to blow the leaves into the neighboring town of North Elmsborough, which he hates almost as much as leaves because of the ignominious defeat he suffered at the hands of their champion in the New Hampshire Garden-Tractor Races, held earlier this summer. This early defoliation should be no problem as the range of his and others in his league’s leaf-blowers is over three quarters of a mile.
          Whether downwind of a hurricane-force leaf-blower, or stuck in a scenic byway traffic jam, this writer feels that all should share in New Hampshire’s passion for the color and effect of dying leaves.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009

And You Thought It Couldn't Get Any Worse...

Fahey's new advertisement for TMC in Human Events:
 At what point do I start lying about where I went to college? 

Mother: "We'd understand each other better if you'd studied some philosophy in college."  

Daughter: "You mean dead white guys like Aeropostale

Don't laugh: that girl's probably the product of some nearby Cliff's Notes College, where all it takes to graduate is half-an-hour a day with Cliff's Notes.

Contrast her sorry education with that of our friend and patron, Robert Novak, who passed away just last week.

In his memoirs, he fondly recalls the values that were instilled in him by his liberal arts education from the very first day he stepped on campus:

"It was a golden moment for a 17-year-old boy from Joliet, leading to four years of exploration in the riches of our heritage: Plato, Aristotle, Chaucer, Machiavelli, Shakespeare, Milton, John Donne, Hawthorne, Melville, T.S. Eliot --- dead white men all. How barren would be my life without that background!"

In subsequent decades, armed with his classical Western education, Robert Novak battled --- and defeated --- many formidable, well-educated thinkers. But much of his time was spent swatting lightweight lawmakers who learned pygmy philosophy, politics, history, and foreign policy at their local equivalent of Cliff's Notes College.

Answer me this:

Would you let a Med School Lite surgeon operate on you?

Would you trust a Cliff's Notes Captain to lead your son into battle?

Are you comfortable with congressmen who can't tell Aristotle from Aeropostale deciding whether we legalize gay marriage, fight in Iraq, or let the government take over health care?

 Robert Novak never was.

Not for a second.

Which is why, when he gave large sums of his own money to colleges to carry on his legacy, he turned his back on the Cliff's Notes Colleges that clutter our nation and instead established a scholarship here at Thomas More College . . . . . . the school that provides the kind of education that, so many years ago, laid the foundation for Robert Novak's many strengths and his great wisdom.

As he told our graduates in his Commencement speech here just three short years ago, "You are entering the world as something rare today: educated men and women." 

He saw that on our modest campus of less than ten acres, we've created a gracious community of faculty and students rooted in the virtues that alone make civilization possible and give it the strength to endure.

Students walking around campus

He knew that for four years, we require each of our students to dwell in the Great Books that built Western Civilization in the first place, authors whose study nurtured him, and will once again make our nation a shining city on a hill: Plato, Aristotle, the Bible, Cicero, Plutarch, St. Augustine, Dante, St. Thomas Aquinas, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Jefferson, Madison, de Tocqueville, Hawthorne, Melville, T.S. Eliot, and the other great men and women whose wisdom gives courage its meaning.

He recognized that Thomas More College provides the education our nation needs today --- and countless respected conservatives agree.  

Says Patrick Buchanan: "Excellence in every respect is what Thomas More College offers young people. I do not exaggerate when I say that Thomas More College is exactly the kind of college you want your children and your children's children to attend."  

And National Review: "In all the hundreds of letters National Review received about scores of different schools, none brought with them an eloquence or a passion the equal of the ones from the friends of Thomas More."

Unfortunately, praise doesn't pay the plumber, Great Books don't win big grants, and we've been slammed by the market's collapse, as have the parents of most of our students.

To help our beleagured students continue their education, we've slashed all non-essential expenses, and last Fall some of our professors even went without pay.

Those cuts have not been enough, and now, with just two weeks left before classes start, we need to raise a final $150,000 to provide our students the aid they need this fall.

You know, our graduates don't merely know the difference between Aeropostale and Aristotle: they understand and value Aristotle, and the other great thinkers whose wisdom undergirds all that is great about our nation.

What Robert Novak said about our students a few years ago at Commencement remains true today:

They are entering the world as something rare today: educated men and women.

Consider what that means: consider the impact that just one such educated man --- Robert Novak --- had these past decades, the young boy who recalled with joy his own entry into such a school: "It was a golden moment for a 17-year-old boy from Joliet, leading to four years of exploration in the riches of our heritage: how barren would be my life without that background!"

Suppose lack of money had exiled the young Robert Novak to a Cliff Note's College.

How barren all our lives would have been!

Please help now, so that not one of our students will have to leave here and enroll somewhere in College Lite.

$50 would be very helpful; $100 even better; but we need to raise $150,000 immediately.

No contribution is too small --- or too large!

And please remember to say a prayer for Robert Novak! He was a good and faithful man, and a good friend to all of us here, and to our students.

William Fahey,
President Thomas More College of Liberal Arts
Six Manchester Street
Merrimack, New Hampshire 03054

Recent accolades for Thomas More College  

Ranked as one of the top 50 schools in the country by All-American Colleges: Top Schools for Conservatives, Old-Fashioned Liberals, and People of Faith. 

Ranked as one of the nation's top 100 schools in the Intercollegiate Studies Institute's best-selling college guide, Choosing the Right College: The Whole Truth About America's Top Schools. 

Featured by Time Magazine in a cover story titled "Who Needs Harvard?" as a unique alternative to large, ivy-league schools for those seeking a rigorous education in the Western tradition. 

Included in The National Review College Guide: America's Top Liberal Arts Schools and Cool Colleges, and recommended by the Young America's Foundation.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Maps from Books V

by James Branch Cabell

James Branch Cabell's original map of Poictesme.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Genoa: San Lorenzo and the Harbour

  The Palazzo Ducale
 San Lorenzo
The West Facade 
Towards the harbour on Via di San Lorenzo
Medieval shops along the Moro
 Palazzo San Giorgio, the commercial center of medieval Genoa
 Basilica della Santissima Annunziata del Vastato beyond the old wallls of the city
 Looking up towards Piazza de Banchi and the Loggia dei Mercanti 
San Lorenzo with Chiesa del Gesu up the street

Chiesa del Gesu