Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


ON THIS LAST DAY of 2015, it’s fun to mention topics during the past 12 months that occurred to me unexpectedly. Like the dotty old lady remarked, “How do I know what I’m going to say until I say it?” And so it is with composing this website.

Here are five items, in order of their appearance, I didn’t actually plan.

Bento Art was a chance book purchase. It took artful Japanese box lunches, as enjoyed on Shinkansen bullet trains and during Kabuki intermissions, and raised them to tasty aesthetics.


Bento Art, by Junko Terashima, Great Knowledge, 2006.

Natural ingredients like sweet peppers, mushrooms, broccoli and carrots are transformed into Mona Lisa, Maria Sharapova, Gatchaman, Mozart and other cultural images.


At left, Mozart (モーツァルト). At right, Maria Sharapova (シャラポワ).

Part of the fun is guessing the food used. (Is that hairdo really sliced mushroom?) Also, the book was an excellent puzzle for translating Japanese Katakana characters: mo-so-a-ru-to, shi-ya-ra-po-va.

The Hellcat Over Palmdale came in researching my favorite World War II fighter aircraft. I learned of a radio-controlled Hellcat drone that went rogue in 1956 over Point Mugu, 50 miles west of Los Angeles.


At left, a radio-controlled Grumman Hellcat. At right, a Northrup F-89D Scorpion.

A pair of Northrup F-89D Scorpion jet fighters scrambled to take out the errant drone. But, quite at random, the Hellcat outflew them. It finally ran out of gas and crashed east of Palmdale, more than 90 miles from its starting point, after lots of aerial ambling. For a while there, chunks of rocket shrapnel from the Scorpions’ atack were raining down on high-desert communities.

Coming across several books about Quentin Crisp reminded me of his well-deserved sobriquet as the 20th century’s Oscar Wilde.


Quentin Crisp, 1908 – 1999, English writer, actor, raconteur.

Paraphrasing the Noël Coward song title, Crisp referred to himself as “one of the stately homos of England.” And he did so with style and immense wit.

On family life: “Living en famille provides the strongest motives for rudeness combined with the maximum opportunity for displaying it.”

On keeping up with the Joneses: “… I realized how much cheaper it was to drag the Joneses down to my level.”

On maintaining a lifestyle: “Believe in fate, but lean forward where fate can see you.”

Whoever would have guessed a link between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali? In fact, this pair of highly creative artists exchanged letters of mutual admiration and initiated a project that extended 58 years from inception to completion.


Destino, 1945 – 2003.]

The film Destino portrays the story of Chronos, the god of time, and his ill-fated love for Dahlia, a mortal. Its blending of Disney animation with Dali surrealism is stunning.

Last, I had no idea there were so many Lulus in my life. This item was jogged by The Lives of Harry Lime, an Orson Welles old-time radio broadcast.  It was encouraged by a Met Live in HD performance of Alban Berg’s opera Lulu.


Marlis Petersen was a marvelous Lulu in Alban Berg’s opera.

In researching other Lulus, I knew I’d encounter the kids’ cartoon character. But Brit singer Lulu was an unexpected delight. As I noted earlier this year, she’s a 67-year-old dish as well.


Lulu, born Marie McDonald McLaughlin in 1948, is a Scottish singer, actress and TV personality.

Of her Eurovision-winning “Boom Bang-a-bang” pop song, Lulu said, “I know it’s a rotten song, but I won, so who cares? …. I am just so glad I didn’t finish second like all the other Brits before me….”

Rebounding off this candor, I thank you all for your readership in 2015. And I wish you and yours a 2016 replete with joy, peace and some serendipity. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2015

4 comments on “IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR

  1. Bill Urban
    December 31, 2015

    Dennis, your targeted research – and your random walk – have benefited thousands of us around the world. Thanks for all your good work . . . and forward to 2016!

  2. Mark W
    January 1, 2016

    Yes, a great year for a great resource. I find that I enjoy – and certainly learn more – from Dennis’ posts than from any regular news source. And the breadth and depth of his material goes a long way to help keep a perspective on both life, the passage of time and the human condition . Yes, getting older has its issues, and the world has its problems, but life is really fascinating and people have done some really neat things. Cheers (with a glass of good bourbon)!

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