The Port of Havana

You can see why the Spanish established Havana where they did. The bay is protected by a narrow channel which was easily defended by forts on either side of the inlet. Here are some snaps of the harbor area:


That is looking northeast. See the fort to the left of the photo? I’ve been reading about Caribbean pirates lately in a book titled Buccaneers and Pirates of Our Coasts by Frank R. Stockton. It’s on Librivox, which is a free audiobook app. I think it was written around 1890 or so. The Caribbean was loaded with pirates in those days. It was an occupation. Mostly they raided Spanish galleons which were taking the gold they stole from the Americas back to Spain. They also besieged cities and towns and held them for ransom. Some of the pirates could be pretty nasty. Read about L’Olonnois the Cruel. Real nasty. I’m also reading Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini at the moment. It’s a good book. Erroll Flynn, whom I mentioned a few days back, starred in the movie. Olivia de Havilland, Lionel Atwell and Basil Rathbone were also in it. It was the movie that launched Erroll Flynn’s career. You’ll see a picture of Erroll in Friday’s post

See how that terminal doesn’t have a roof? The one beyond it is the same. Tomorrow I’ll show you photos from when I was on shore, and I’ll say something about the conditions there.

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Is It True What They Say About the Cars in Cuba?

Yes. I’m guessing that about 40% of the cars in Havana are vintage American cars from the 50’s. There were six of us traveling together. We hired two cars, A 56 Chevy

and a 57 Chevy.

Beautiful cars wherever you looked…

Why can’t car companies make beautiful cars any longer? Wait a minute! What’s this outside the cigar factory ?!!!


By the way, they also sold Cuban rum at the cigar store. See it? That car in front looks like a 54 or 55 Chevy.

Check this one out! What a beauty!

They’re all over the place!

I took a picture of this 58 Chevy because we owned one when I was a teenager. It looked ok, but it wasn’t well built.

You might think that all these cars were to drive tourists around. Well, most of these here by Revolution Square were, but the city is full of them. I’m not kidding.

That building above is the ship port.

The first car I ever owned was a 54 Pontiac. The second was a 58 Plymouth. This next car is a 57 Plymouth.

Hold on! That chartreuse job is leaving…

But not before I got a couple shots:

Yes, folks, it’s a gorgeous 59 Desoto!

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I’m Back

It’s Monday, and I need a day to rest up. I’ll show you some photos of Havana tomorrow.


Here’s yesterday’s Sunday…



Quite a while back Steve B asked me to post a son-in-law tossing week. Here you go, Steve. I believe this is the second one that I drew.

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I’m going to Cuba tomorrow. I’ll be back on Monday. I may not be able to post till I get back, so here is the rest of the Arnold the Geek story. I’ll do next Sunday’s post when I get back.





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Fatty Arbuckle

Lisa asked me about Fatty Arbuckle in a comment in response to my mentioning that my father worked for him. Fatty was the biggest star of his time. My father was born in 1901, and he was quite a roamer. He went to California from Chester Pennsylvania four times in his youth in Model T’s. He told me that back then the roads across the desert were one lane affairs. Unpaved of course. If he and his buddies happened to meet another car coming in the other direction they would drive off  the road to let the other car pass. They were young men, and they could dig their car out of the soft sand. On the way when they would run out of money, they would go to the local police station and the police would help them find temporary work. When he was in California on those four separate occasions, he would find work in the movie studios. That’s where he worked for Fatty building movie sets. I saw an old letter when I was a kid. He had written it to his mother, my Swedish grandmother, telling her about various things he had been doing, including a girl that he was seeing. He also told her to go to a certain movie and look for a scene that had a background full of roses that he had built. Buster Keaton was a huge vaudeville star when he came to Hollywood. He joined Fatty’s studio and they made films together. Al St. John was also one of the stars. He happened to be Fatty Arbuckle’s nephew. Later in life he was a popular cowboy sidekick in the talkies. My father worked for all three. Buster became a big star, and the two split to separate studios. The crew members were given to chose to go with either Fatty or Buster. My father had seniority, and he chose to stay with Fatty who was the more established star. I don’t know how long after that the Virginia Rappe tragedy occurred. Fatty’s career was destroyed, and my father was out of work. He came back to Chester. If that hadn’t happened I might not be here today.

From My Wicked, Wicked Ways by Errol Flynn:

I was the newest man and had to begin at the bottom — the bottom of the sheep itself — literally.  I was one of four men in a line, an assembly belt for sheep shearing. The first man took the young hogget, as a young lamb was called, and he had to “dag” him; that is, he must get rid of the bluebottle flies and all the accumulated excreta around the tail.  This he did by holding the sheep in his left hand, and his right hand went in and “dagged” the sheep.  He grabbed a handful of the sheep’s [excrement], tossed it aside, and passed the sheep on to the man next to him.

The next man was me.

All I had to do was stick my face into this gruesome mess and bite off the young sheep’s testicles.  Dag a hogget. I had good teeth. I put my nose into this awful-smelling mess, my teeth solidly around the balls of the six-month-old sheep, and took a bite while I held him upside down.  My nose was in fur and ordure.  I bit and spat out the product into a pile of what they called prairie oysters.

…The sheep never let out a bleat.  You bit, you spat out something like a couple of olives, and passed it on. Every day I had my proportion of oysters. The bluebottle flies swarmed all over me.”

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Arnold the Geek



Quite some time ago Roscoe asked me to post an Arnold the Geek story. (Did I ever tell you that my father worked for Roscoe (Fatty) Arbuckle during the silent picture days?) Here is the first appearance of Arnlod the Geek. It’s from November 1989.


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Bad Day at the Beach

We went swimming yesterday at Manatee Beach. When I was young it was called the Public Beach. My friend, Larry, who was about the smartest guy I ever knew, lived right near there. I’ll tell you a story about him in our teenage years some time. But we went to the beach, and it was packed with people.

They must have been on vacation. Because…

red tide has moved up from Sarasota. That’s a dead snook. When I was a kid in the early fifties we had two particularly bad red tides. The dead fish completely covered the beaches. You can’t imagine how awful it is. Your eyes burn like crazy and there’s a pain in your bronchial tubes that’s worse than you can imagine. You cant breathe, and you can’t barely see. The men would dig big holes and bury as many as the fish as they could. I can’t describe how bad it was back then. This current outbreak is nowhere near as bad, but it’s still very unpleasant. Hopefully it will only last a week or so. With global warming the episodes are becoming more frequent. It’s caused by algae blooms.

I just heard from Ohio State. I should receive the comics you ordered in two weeks.

Here’s one from August 4, 1991. Sid’s in the slammer…

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Russell’s Paradox

Lars Å emailed me about my mention of Russell’s Paradox in a strip from years ago. He included this panel:

My answer was that Russell’s Paradox is best illustrated by this description in Boolean algebra: It is the set of all subsets which are not subsets of themselves.

And this brought back memories of an old math professor I had back then. I might have mentioned him. I forget the name of the class, but it had to do with all those convoluted mathematical theorems and systems. (Sometimes 1+1 doesn’t equal 2)  It was about the hardest course I ever took, and that includes graduate physics. I was the only kid in the class who knew what was going on. My undergraduate degree was in mathematics. The course was very difficult, as I said, and it wasn’t made much easier because the professor who taught it was a really bad teacher. (I only had one professor who was worse. He taught advanced electromagnetic theory. I won’t mention his name.) The math professor was Marion Tinsley.

He also happened to be the all time world’s greatest checker player. Google him. Once he played 26 different people simultaneously and won every game. And he was blindfolded while he did it. He was an absolute genius. He was also a devout Baptist. He lived with his mother who was still alive when I took the course in 1964. He retired from checkers in 1992, but he  came out of retirement several years later to regain the championship. He did so because the current champion at the time was an avowed atheist. According to Marion, an atheist wasn’t fit to be champion. Evidently the man didn’t know whom he was playing against until he lost. He said something to the effect “No wonder I lost.”

The reason I tell this story was because it was Dr. Tinsley who told me that “The set of all sets which are not subsets of themselves is Russell’s Paradox.”

I have to apologize for this dialog. When I wrote it I didn’t realize the “M” word is insulting. Please excuse me. Later on I used the word again and one of my editors pointed it out. I changed the the word to jockey.


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My Wife Is a Moose

Yes, Frau G joined the Moose Lodge in Bradenton Beach. It’s been there for ages. Two years ago they remodeled. It’s really nice since it’s right on the beach. And for that reason it’s very popular. Here are some shots:

That spit of land on the horizon is the north end of Anna Maria Island. The Island is about seven miles long.

Frau Grace told the bartender that she wanted to join. The initiation ritual entailed handing the guy sixty bucks. When my old friend Freddy joined the Elks last year it cost him a hundred smackers. And the ceremony took over an hour. Our Elks Lodge is the perennial champion of the Florida Elks Ritual competition. And once they took national honors. These guys are serious. I told Fred that I prayed more that night than I had in the past ten years. The chaplain at the Elks is a nice gal. But you don’t mess with her. She rides a Harley Hog. Every night at 8:30 we say the Pledge of Allegiance. We’re very patriotic. My lodge is a community leader. Each year we give about $200,000 back to the community. I don’t know if Frau G’s Moose Lodge does that.

The two guys in the third panel are Larry Olsen, who was one of the syndicate bosses back then, and Jay Kennedy whom I’ve mentioned before. He was my editor and a darn good one.

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My Jenn-air just blew up

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