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A few words about...™ Barry Lyndon -- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About

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#41 of 166 Jay G.

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Posted May 29 2011 - 08:19 AM

Mr. Harris,


That's an interesting post on the limitations of film projection. However, your defense of the 1.78:1 ratio does lead to an interesting question: If this presentation is at least on par with a 1.66:1 theatrical screening, why didn't the other 3 films in the collection that are 1.66:1 get reformatted to 1.78:1? In fact, based on your description of these theatrical limitations, you'd be fine with any 1.66:1 film from the 70s or earlier being reformatted in the same manner to 1.78:1. Is that correct?


Also, I think you're giving Vitali too much benefit of the doubt. It's important to note that Vitali isn't claiming that the 1.78:1 reframing isn't due to differences between modern home video and 1970's 1.66:1 theatrical screenings, but that the film has always been 1.77:1. He has been taken at his word for this by the Kubrick estate for at least the Kubrick Archive book, and likely for the 2002 Egyptian screening, which, due to occurring after Kubrick's death, loses some of its authority. That Vitali is claiming this is the one and true aspect ratio means that it affects not only this release, but potentially all future releases, and rewrites history.


In regards to the extra image on the side, it's clear that the Blu-ray has slightly more than the LD, and likely more than seen in many theaters. However, it's also clear that it still crops the top and bottom of the LD, and from how I read the chart provided and description of the trapezoid effect, a 1.75:1 theatrical screening would crop more from all four sides than a 1.66:1 screening would. Also, the width on the print/negative for a 1.66:1 film would be the same width as a 1.75:1 film, and the loss on the sides from the LD/DVD transfer may have been due to a limitation of the technology at the time, or even a mistake. Surely if the new 1.78:1 transfer was able to capture more image on the sides, a new 1.66:1 transfer would've captured the same amount of additional horizontal image, while still retaining the correct height Kubrick wanted for theatrical screenings (as evidenced by testimony from people who ran screenings of the film over the years, and quotes from interviews and biographies on Kubrick).

http://somecamerunni...154329391f7970c




#42 of 166 Robert Harris

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Posted May 29 2011 - 12:00 PM



Originally Posted by Jay G. 

Mr. Harris,


That's an interesting post on the limitations of film projection. However, your defense of the 1.78:1 ratio does lead to an interesting question: If this presentation is at least on par with a 1.66:1 theatrical screening, why didn't the other 3 films in the collection that are 1.66:1 get reformatted to 1.78:1? In fact, based on your description of these theatrical limitations, you'd be fine with any 1.66:1 film from the 70s or earlier being reformatted in the same manner to 1.78:1. Is that correct?


That would not be correct.  This is not about 1.78, but rather the image as exposed at 1.78.


Also, I think you're giving Vitali too much benefit of the doubt. It's important to note that Vitali isn't claiming that the 1.78:1 reframing isn't due to differences between modern home video and 1970's 1.66:1 theatrical screenings, but that the film has always been 1.77:1. He has been taken at his word for this by the Kubrick estate for at least the Kubrick Archive book, and likely for the 2002 Egyptian screening, which, due to occurring after Kubrick's death, loses some of its authority. That Vitali is claiming this is the one and true aspect ratio means that it affects not only this release, but potentially all future releases, and rewrites history.


I cannot answer for Mr. Vitali, but I do believe his heart is in the right place.  When he was queried by Glenn, I would doubt that he was prepared for tech questions.  He was present to discuss Barry Lyndon in terms of production.  I don't believe he was expecting presentation questions.


In regards to the extra image on the side, it's clear that the Blu-ray has slightly more than the LD, and likely more than seen in many theaters.


Correct.


However, it's also clear that it still crops the top and bottom of the LD, and from how I read the chart provided and description of the trapezoid effect, a 1.75:1 theatrical screening would crop more from all four sides than a 1.66:1 screening would.


Not necessarily.  And an assumption is being made that cropping the AR of the laser is somehow a bad thing.  I don't believe that it is.


Also, the width on the print/negative for a 1.66:1 film would be the same width as a 1.75:1 film, and the loss on the sides from the LD/DVD transfer may have been due to a limitation of the technology at the time, or even a mistake. Surely if the new 1.78:1 transfer was able to capture more image on the sides, a new 1.66:1 transfer would've captured the same amount of additional horizontal image, while still retaining the correct height Kubrick wanted for theatrical screenings (as evidenced by testimony from people who ran screenings of the film over the years, and quotes from interviews and biographies on Kubrick).

It could, but not necessarily to any great final benefit.  Please keep in mind that when SK discussed home video, his reference was a small screen in 3:4.  He and I discussed aspect ratios, and how they related to home video c. 1989.  I've noted before that as technologies change, one must re-assess.







"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#43 of 166 Jerome

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Posted May 29 2011 - 06:42 PM

I made some comparaisons between the 1.66 aspect ratio on the dvd and the new 1.78 ratio on the BD


http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/


http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/

http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/



#44 of 166 Douglas R

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Posted May 30 2011 - 12:31 AM

All that fuss over such a marginal difference.............



#45 of 166 ShowsOn

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Posted May 30 2011 - 01:47 AM



Originally Posted by Jay G. 

Also, I think you're giving Vitali too much benefit of the doubt. It's important to note that Vitali isn't claiming that the 1.78:1 reframing isn't due to differences between modern home video and 1970's 1.66:1 theatrical screenings, but that the film has always been 1.77:1.


I've never heard of any other film being shown in a cinema in a 1.77:1 aspect ratio. I've heard of 1.66:1 and 1.75:1 and of course 1.85:1 and I know that the native HDTV ratio is 1.78:1, but 1.77:1 as a theatrical aspect ratio is just something I've never heard of.I think Vitali is talking nonsense again; just like he doesn't seem to understand the difference between anamorphic film formats and anamorphic encoding as a method of enhancing the resolution of DVDs.




#46 of 166 urbo73

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Posted May 30 2011 - 03:02 AM



Originally Posted by Douglas R 

All that fuss over such a marginal difference.............


Marginal? Not to me. If you are a photographer, you'd understand perhaps. I agree that there is much fuss in defense of WB. There needn't be ANY fuss. They could have done it right, like Lolita, yet they chose not to. Simple as that. As film with the most beautiful and perfect cinematography, I will of course buy it and love it on Blu-ray. But I don't need anyone to defend WB or come up with excuses why this was done, show me the difference between 1.78 and 1.66, etc. It's silly..



http://www.visual-me...1a/bl/page1.htm



#47 of 166 Jay G.

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Posted May 30 2011 - 05:53 AM

Mr. Harris,


While I agree that Vitali might not have been prepared for the question during the recent press conference, I wasn't referring to just that. Vitali is responsible for Barry Lyndon's aspect ratio being listed as 1.77:1 in the Stanley Kubrick Archive book as well. Here's what book editor Alison Castle had to say about the matter:


Barry Lyndon was shot in 1.77:1, which is why that is the ratio for the stills in the Archives book, all of which were preserved from the originals. This information was provided and verified by Leon Vitali when he was still working for the Kubrick estate.  


http://somecamerunni...154329e067f970c


So he has held this opinion for a while, and wasn't just off-the-cuff in the recent interview. In fact, an interview with him from 2001 on DVDTalk has him citing the 1.77:1 aspect ratio for Barry Lyndon as well, which is why the Egyptian screening in 2002 is suspect.

http://www.dvdtalk.c...iinterview.html


Vitali's opinion of the correct aspect ratio has been taken in faith and used as the "official" aspect ratio for the film, and has affected a book about Kubrick, at least one theatrical screening, and this Blu-ray release. It'd be one thing if this was just a compromise for this specific HD release (although one has to ask why this didn't occur with Strangelove, Lolita, or Clockwork if that is indeed the case), but it's affecting the very history of the film. For example, Glenn Kenny on his blog used the Stanley Kubrick Archive book as supporting evidence for Vitali's recent statement, since he was at the time unaware Vitali was the source for the book's AR info as well.


I'm also not sure why you brought up 4:3 home video, as that wasn't being discussed here. I personally don't care what was shown on the previous laserdisc/DVD releases, as those were open-matte 1.59:1 transfers (albeit cropped at the sides, perhaps done purposely to further reduce the letterboxing). What matters is the theatrical aspect ratio, and what that should be, as that's the only info we have from Kubrick regarding widescreen versions of his films. All accounts from when he was still alive state that 1.66:1 was the preferred theatrical ratio when originally released, and was his preferred ratio for later theatrical screenings. It's not until after his death that 1.77:1 as a ratio enters the picture.


Also, I think there needs to be made a distinction between stating whether or not this new transfer is overly detrimental to the image/framing for the film, and whether or not it accurately portrays the image/framing Kubrick intended, at least for theatrical release (in an ideal theater). By all accounts, the cropped 1.78:1 image still manages to convey a great image, with little to no visibly damaging cropping. However, it is still not the original intended image, most likely. If Lolita could've been cropped to 1.78:1 with similar results, should they have done it to that film as well? OAR fanatics don't simply want the most image, or a "good enough" image that fills their screens, they want the correct image.



#48 of 166 Jay G.

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Posted May 30 2011 - 05:58 AM

I found an interesting interview with John Alcott regarding the filming of Barry Lyndon. Maddeningly, it doesn't mention the aspect ratio in it, but it has a lot of otherwise good info, like this choice bit from Alcott:

In preparation for "BARRY LYNDON" we studied the lighting effects achieved in the paintings of the Dutch masters, but they seemed a bit flat - so we decided to light more from the side.


http://www.visual-me...1a/bl/page1.htm





#49 of 166 Torsten Kaiser

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Posted May 30 2011 - 06:55 AM



Originally Posted by Jay G. 

(...) All accounts from when he was still alive state that 1.66:1 was the preferred theatrical ratio when originally released, and was his preferred ratio for later theatrical screenings. It's not until after his death that 1.77:1 as a ratio enters the picture.


Also, I think there needs to be made a distinction between stating whether or not this new transfer is overly detrimental to the image/framing for the film, and whether or not it accurately portrays the image/framing Kubrick intended, at least for theatrical release (in an ideal theater). By all accounts, the cropped 1.78:1 image still manages to convey a great image, with little to no visibly damaging cropping. However, it is still not the original intended image, most likely. If Lolita could've been cropped to 1.78:1 with similar results, should they have done it to that film as well? OAR fanatics don't simply want the most image, or a "good enough" image that fills their screens, they want the correct image.


And if you want the correct image, let's start at the point where 1.77:1 is not in SMPTE's book as a theatrical AR standard, and go on by saying that AR, regardless what ratio is merely the ratio w x h of a certain picture frame, whereas FRAMING in correlation to the TOTAL AREA EXPOSED OF THE NEGATIVE / IP with its (important) SAFE ACTION AREA limitation is far more vital.

In other words:  you can take a 1.78:1 or 1.66:1 AR off any part of the frame and it would be 1.66 or 1.78 yet show merely a section of the frame.  The framing, however, is related directly to the area exposed / SAA and it is THAT, that actually counts, as it was that which was screened.   I have not held BL in my hands yet on 35mm, so I cannot say whether the framing is 100% or 90% as should be (whether the entire extend of the width and hight of the SAA was utilized or even beyond, which is also something that should not happen, either).  However:


If the framing - even with a 1.78:1 AR, is accurate, so if it does use the correct width boundaries of the SAA, this release would be extremely close to 1.75, which IS a theatrical standard, and, if I remember correctly, is also preferred one by the SK estate, alongside 1.66.  Another crusial factor in this has rarely been mentioned: (accuracy of) composition.  And here I have yet to see anything in terms of  "problems" that would make this scan/mapping unusable in the way this debate is raging.


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#50 of 166 Robert Harris

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Posted May 30 2011 - 08:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Torsten Kaiser 

And if you want the correct image, let's start at the point where 1.77:1 is not in SMPTE's book as a theatrical AR standard, and go on by saying that AR, regardless what ratio is merely the ratio w x h of a certain picture frame, whereas FRAMING in correlation to the TOTAL AREA EXPOSED OF THE NEGATIVE / IP with its (important) SAFE ACTION AREA limitation is far more vital.
In other words:  you can take a 1.78:1 or 1.66:1 AR off any part of the frame and it would be 1.66 or 1.78 yet show merely a section of the frame.  The framing, however, is related directly to the area exposed / SAA and it is THAT, that actually counts, as it was that which was screened.   I have not held BL in my hands yet on 35mm, so I cannot say whether the framing is 100% or 90% as should be (whether the entire extend of the width and hight of the SAA was utilized or even beyond, which is also something that should not happen, either).  However:


If the framing - even with a 1.78:1 AR, is accurate, so if it does use the correct width boundaries of the SAA, this release would be extremely close to 1.75, which IS a theatrical standard, and, if I remember correctly, is also preferred one by the SK estate, alongside 1.66.  Another crusial factor in this has rarely been mentioned: (accuracy of) composition.  And here I have yet to see anything in terms of  "problems" that would make this scan/mapping unusable in the way this debate is raging.


Agreed.  And just as a reminder, here is that potential projection aperture, which on screen is a perfect rectangle:


http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/


RAH


"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#51 of 166 Stephen_J_H

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Posted May 30 2011 - 09:14 AM

I dare say that you're being too kind with that illustration, based on both my viewing experience and my limited experience as a projectionist. I have seen 2.4:1 films projected in such a fashion that they look like 1.85:1.


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#52 of 166 marsnkc

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Posted May 30 2011 - 09:27 AM

Jay G.'s marvellous post (#47) seems pretty definitive to me. The source for arguments supporting a wider AR than 1:66 appear to be Leon Vitali, with the imprimatur coming from the SK Archive book, which draws its conclusions from the apparently unreliable memory of....Leon Vitali. (Reminds me of the Valerie Plame case where Mr. Cheney's office planted a story with the NY Times, then had the VP go on Meet The Press and quote the article to support his position!). RAH charitably says that Vitali was blindsided by the unexpected question of AR in an interview but, as happens all too often, these things get quoted and become gospel, even apparently to WB.


I don't think anyone arguing for the correct, intended image is losing any sleep over what we're 'losing' on Blu, but I also think it's a bit of a shame if what we are getting is a result of bad information. There may not be a ha'pence worth of difference between 1:66 and 1:78, but 'a few' millimeters apparently made an aesthtic difference to Kubrick, else why wouldn't he opt for 1:75, an even more 'marginal' difference for debate. As Jay G. says, if the result of cropping to 1:78 doesn't matter, why didn't they do it with Lolita?


That American Cinematographer article first linked by Ryan Campo (#46) is fascinating. The sheer ingenuity and problems associated with adapting that surplus NASA lens for candlelight filming is just one aspect that makes one appreciate this treasure even more (and who would ever have thought to cover large white areas - such as mantlepieces and doors - with netting to tame blowouts?).So thanks to WB for bringing it to us on what is promised to be a beautiful transfer.


(There's mention made in the article about the stock used (5254 - if memory serves me from yesterday) versus the 5247(?) which was intoduced shortly after BL wrapped. Would this finer grain film also have been 'faster', which presumably would have helped with those low lighting situations?)




#53 of 166 Robert Harris

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Posted May 30 2011 - 12:54 PM



Originally Posted by marsnkc 

I don't think anyone arguing for the correct, intended image is losing any sleep over what we're 'losing' on Blu, but I also think it's a bit of a shame if what we are getting is a result of bad information. There may not be a ha'pence worth of difference between 1:66 and 1:78, but 'a few' millimeters apparently made an aesthtic difference to Kubrick, else why wouldn't he opt for 1:75, an even more 'marginal' difference for debate. As Jay G. says, if the result of cropping to 1:78 doesn't matter, why didn't they do it with Lolita?



Once you see the new disc of L, you'll see that it can't really hold a further crop.



"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#54 of 166 Jay G.

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Posted May 30 2011 - 02:15 PM


Quote:

Originally Posted by Robert Harris 


Once you see the new disc of L, you'll see that it can't really hold a further crop.


So your point is that it's OK to crop a film to 1.77:1 for HD, regardless of the director's original intentions, as long as it doesn't cut out critical vertical information?

Also, you haven't commented on the evidence I provided that suggests that Vitali has been pushing 1.77:1 as the "official" OAR for this film for a while now. Do you agree with Vitali that Kubrick originally shot the film in 1.77:1, or do you think it was originally composed for 1.66:1 ? Do you still think that the 2002 Egyptian screening reflects something other than Vitali's recommendation to the estate?




#55 of 166 urbo73

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Posted May 30 2011 - 04:19 PM

This thread is fascinating in how people are finding excuses for WB's release. Complicated replies full of mumbo-jumbo. It could have been 1.66 and it was not. Don't need to keep hearing excuses and why it does or doesn't matter. I wonder who here has friends at WBs....



#56 of 166 urbo73

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Posted May 30 2011 - 04:20 PM



Originally Posted by Jerome 

I made some comparaisons between the 1.66 aspect ratio on the dvd and the new 1.78 ratio on the BD


http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/


http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/

http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/



As a photographer, if someone cropped my photos/compositions, I know I wouldn't be very pleased. Thanks for sharing. No need for WB fans to keep on making excuses.



#57 of 166 urbo73

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Posted May 30 2011 - 04:23 PM



Originally Posted by Jay G. 


Quote:


So your point is that it's OK to crop a film to 1.77:1 for HD, regardless of the director's original intentions, as long as it doesn't cut out critical vertical information?

Also, you haven't commented on the evidence I provided that suggests that Vitali has been pushing 1.77:1 as the "official" OAR for this film for a while now. Do you agree with Vitali that Kubrick originally shot the film in 1.77:1, or do you think it was originally composed for 1.66:1 ? Do you still think that the 2002 Egyptian screening reflects something other than Vitali's recommendation to the estate?



I know, pretty laughable. And who are we to judge what is critical or not? I like how the same people that complain loudly about DNR and grain and all that, make excuses when it comes to correct aspect ratios...




#58 of 166 ShowsOn

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Posted May 30 2011 - 06:23 PM



Originally Posted by Jay G. 

Also, you haven't commented on the evidence I provided that suggests that Vitali has been pushing 1.77:1 as the "official" OAR for this film for a while now. Do you agree with Vitali that Kubrick originally shot the film in 1.77:1, or do you think it was originally composed for 1.66:1 ? Do you still think that the 2002 Egyptian screening reflects something other than Vitali's recommendation to the estate?


Name ONE other film that has ever been released in a theatre with a 1.77:1 ratio. It is a complete non-standard ratio that has never been used in the history of filmmaking, Barry Lyndon included. The fact Vitali thinks 1.77:1 was ever a theatrical aspect ratio shows again that he just doesn't know what he is talking about.

Kubrick would've done what any sane director working in 1975 would've done. If he wanted 1.66:1, he still would've had to protect for 1.85:1 because that is the ratio that many cinemas would play the film in; even if he sent them hard matted 1.66:1 prints. Once are director protects for the 1.85:1 ratio, does it really mean you have composed the film for 1.66:1?

What we don't know is how Kubrick would've chosen to present the film in HD, because he is dead. All we are left with is Leon Vitali who, knowingly or otherwise, tends to spread a mixture of confusion and disinformation. The fact is, the film can be shown in 1.66:1 or 1.85:1, so I think 1.78:1 (16:9) is a decent compromise between those ratios. We simply will never know if Kubrick would've wanted the Blu-ray to be pillarboxed in 1.66:1, or if he would've preferred the slight increase in resolution achieved by using 16:9.

What we do know is that the Barry Lyndon disc is great and it is a very enjoyable way to watch the film. I can't think of a single shot in the film that would've benefited from 4.5% more image at the top and bottom.






#59 of 166 The Troll

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Posted May 30 2011 - 08:08 PM

Okay folks, so the fact of the matter is that the 1.78:1 ratio on the Barry Lyndon BD has been achieved through a combination of cropping and STRETCHING - the latter being the only way to achieve a 1.78:1 image without destroying the composition (the film is NOT protected for 1.85:1).

Precise comparison between the 2001 DVD and the 2011 BD:
http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/



#60 of 166 Robert Harris

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Posted May 31 2011 - 12:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jay G. 

Quote:


So your point is that it's OK to crop a film to 1.77:1 for HD, regardless of the director's original intentions, as long as it doesn't cut out critical vertical information?


Also, you haven't commented on the evidence I provided that suggests that Vitali has been pushing 1.77:1 as the "official" OAR for this film for a while now. Do you agree with Vitali that Kubrick originally shot the film in 1.77:1, or do you think it was originally composed for 1.66:1 ? Do you still think that the 2002 Egyptian screening reflects something other than Vitali's recommendation to the estate?



Please do not attempt to change the meaning of my words.  AFAIK, the "official" AR of Barry Lyndon is 1.66-1.75.  It was the preference of the filmmaker to expose as much vertical information as possible for home video's 4:3 AR.  Therefore, for laserdisc, the original correct AR would have been approximately 1.59:1.


The film was composed for 1.66 - 1.75, and protected to 1.59.


Had someone from the estate requested The Egyptian to run the film at 1.59, they probably would have.  The request was for 1.75.  What filtering went on between the family and Mr. Vitali is unknown, but 1.75 would have been a logical projection AR for the film from day one.  1.66 would have been problematic for any large release, and SK knew this.


Once again, and Mr. Kaiser has mentioned this again...


An aspect ratio is nothing more than a shape.


1.66:1 is a meaningless number.


It all comes down to how the information held by the negative is handled.  And knowing the difference between theatrical projection and the image harvesting capabilities toward data, what I'm seeing is an actual aspect ratio of approximately 1.71-73, within a perceived aspect ratio of 1.78:1.


And a final point.  No, there is no official 1.77:1 aspect ratio, although I'm certain that it has existed in theaters, just as 1.87:1 has existed.  It simply a matter of misfiling a plate.  And making no excuses for WB, my feeling regarding Mr. Vitali's comments, is that he simply misspoke.  Most people do that several times a year.


RAH


"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence






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