Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A "Treasure House" for British Literature in Chicagoland

From the May 28, 2014, Chicago Tribune by Quan Truong.

The Marion E. Wade Center on the campus of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, is quite the research center for British authors.

In it, you can sit at the desk where J.R.R. Tolkien drafted parts of "The Lord of the Rings."  You can also touch the wardrobe on which a young C.S. Lewis is said to have climbed to tell stories.

There are no velvet ropes to keep visitors away. You are welcome to touch some mighty important literature places.

That wardrobe was carved by Lewis' grandfather and see an original manuscript or pull out a lesser-known book written by the author of "The Chronicles of Narnia."

The center was founded 50 years ago and the new building housing it opened in 2001.  About 9,000 visitors come to it a year.  And, there is a huge research collection from Wheaton College professor Clyde Kilby..  he had the foresight to collect C.S. Lewis' old letters and manuscripts and later expanded his collection to include other British authors.

The center also has 2,500 volumes from Lewis' personal library

Of course, because of the recent movies, "The Lord of the Rings," "The Hobbitt" and "the Chronicles of Narnia" have made these two authors extremely popular.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How Many Godzilla Movies?-- Part 2

Now, we'll have nominations for best, worst, funniest movie title.

15.  Godzilla 1985 (1984)  Really?
14.  Godzilla 2000 (1999)
13.  Godzilla, Mothra & King Ghldorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)
12.  Godzilla vs. King Ghldorah
11.  Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973)

10.  Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)
9.  Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla 2 (1993)
8.  Ghldorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)
7.  Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)
6.  Godzilla vs. Monster Zero (1965)

5.  Godzilla vs. The Thing (1964)
4.  Destroy All Monsters (1968)
3.  Godzilla (2014) This year's offering.
2.  Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster (1971)
1.  Godzilla (1954)  The original one and he suggests viewing the Japanese cut of it.

OK, Let's Make Godzilla's Rora.  --DaCoot

How Many Godzilla Movies Were There?-- Part 1

From the May 16, 2014, Chicago tribune "Godzilla: The Best , and the Rest" by Christopher Borrelli.

Borrelli ranks the 30 Godzilla movies, in case you're wondering how many there were.  He gives some info on the movies, but I'm just listing them.  (I liked the one out this year.)

30.  Godzilla (1998)
29.  Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)
28.  Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (1966)
27.  Godzilla's Revenge (1969)
26.  Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla (1994)  Where do they come up with these titles?

25.  Godzilla Raids Again (1955)
24.  Godzilla vs. Mothra: The Battle for Earth (1992)
23.  Godzilla vs. Magagulrus (2000)
22.  Godzilla QAgainst Mechagodzilla (2002)
21.  King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)

20.  Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003)
19.  Son of Godzilla (1967)
18. Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)
17.  Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
16.  Godzilla vs. Blollante (1989)

Imagine seeing all these?

More Power to Christopher.  --Cooter

Monday, November 17, 2014

Celebrating a "Miracle": The Wall Comes Down

From the November 9, 2014, Chicago Tribune.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday that an irrepressible yearning for freedom brought the Berlin Wall and called it a "miracle" the Cold War barrier was breached without a shot fired.  Germany would always be grateful for the courage of East Germans who protested the Communist dictatorship.


To mark the 25th anniversary a 9.3-mile-long "Border of Lights 2014" was switched on where the wall once stood.

From a 1989 photo: East Germans pour through the newly-opened Berlin Wall at Potsdamer Platz.  There are also people atop the curved top, one bravely standing (easy to fall off) and the rest straddled on it.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was there and waving to onlookers as he walked across Pariser Platz.  Earlier he had had strong words warning the U.S. and Russia over the current growing tensions that he believes will put the world "on the brink of a new Cold War."

One of the world's greatest statesmen.  he could have ordered mass shootings when all of this was taking place 25 years ago, but didn't.  And still looking for peaceful coexistence.

Like I said earlier, I never expected to see this happen.  At various parts of my life, I thought the Vietnam War was going to last forever and that there would always be a Cold War and a Berlin Wall.


Five Myths About the Berlin Wall: Germans Are Enthusiastic As the Rest of the World in Celebrating the Wall's Fall

5.  Actually, Germans have been far more ambivalent about the wall.  Germans shot their own people and, as a result of the opening, there have been economic problems like high levels of unemployment

Another factor complicating the fall of the wall is that Nov. 9th was the date when Nazis attacked Jewish businesses, synagogues and homes on the Night of the Broken Glass, or Kristallnacht.

On Nov. 9th, Germans celebrated the 25th anniversary with 8,000 illuminated balloons forming a "Border of light" along the former path of the wall in central Berlin..


Five Myths About the Berlin Wall: The Wall Fell Nov. 9, 1989

4.  That night and in the weeks following, East German officials removed pieces of the wall to create more crossing points between East and West.  Countless "wall peckers" with hammers and chisels came to take home their own pieces (some to be sold for profit.  I bought one of these little pieces for an exorbitant price, but a real, I hope, piece of history.).  But most of the wall was left standing.

Official demolition of the wall began in the summer of 1990.  It took almost two years to remove all of the border fortifications around Berlin and four years to dismantle them along the full length of East and West Germany's borders.

Even today, hundreds of mines have not been found.  In Berlin, a little over a mile of the wall remains, spread out over several sites.

But now, there are more segments of the wall on display in the United States than Berlin.

I've seen two in Missouri, one at a fort and the other at the town where Winston Churchill gave his "Iton Curtain" speech.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Five Myths About the Berlin Wall-- Part 3: President Reagan Brought Down the Wall

Many Americans believe that President Reagan's June 1987 speech in berlin ("Mr.Gorbachev, tear down this wall!") led to its coming down in 1989.  However, Gorbachev's reforms had far more to do with it.

The wall started to fall on November 9th as a result of a mistake.  In face of mass protests against its government, East Germany waived the old visa rules stating that citizens needed a pressing reason for travel to the west.  East Germans still had to apply, but they would be granted much faster.

The Communist official who announced this decision didn't know much about it and when in response to a reporter's question as to when it would take effect replied immediately and it kind of sounded like he meant the border could be crossed immediately.

Over the next several hours, thousands of East Berliners gathered at the check points along the wall.  They were held back, but the crowds continued to grow and get more angry.

At 11:30 p.m. the Bornholmer Street checkpoint allowed people to cross en masse.  Guards at other checkpoints  soon followed suit and the East German government never fully regained control.


Friday, November 14, 2014

"Operation" Inventor Needs One, Can't Afford It

From the October 30, 2014, Chicago Tribune by Tony Briscoe and Colleen Mastony.

John Spinello, 77, of Bloomingdale, Illinois, invented the popular board game "Operation."  Now, he really needs one, only, he can't afford it.

This has fueled a huge reaction.  Some people have said this game inspired them to go into a medical career.

He was a student at the University of Illinois in an industrial design class when he came up with the game as a project.  A relative who worked for Marvin Glass and Associates, a Chicago novelty and toy company and the boss, Marvin Glass liked it so much, he offered to buy the rights for it for $500 and give Spinello a job after graduation.

In 1965, the game reached the Milton Bradley Co. and was redesigned to feature a patient in an operating room.  The game became a smash hit

John Spinello, meanwhile, got his $500, but never worked for Glass.  he started a warehouse and shipping company which ended up declaring bankruptcy two years ago.

Right now, Spinello needs dental implants which will cost $25,000, a crowfunding website has raised $21,000 of  that amount as of Wednesday.

Maybe Milton Bradley Co. should kick in some money after all the dough they made on it.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Five Myths About the Berlin Wall-- Part 2: Key Move in the Cold War?

2.  KEY MOVE IN THE COLD WAR?  In 1952, the Soviets closed the East-West German border, but since Berlin was still 3/4 under the control of the U.S., Britain and France, they left the city alone.  West Berlin became an escape hatch for East Germans.

East Germany and the Soviet Union argued for 8 years about closing off West Berlin.  The Soviet Union argued that such a move would would make them look bad.  During that time, East Germany began stockpiling barbed wire and cement posts and formed a top secret working group to build the wall.  Plans were made to do this.

In the summer of 1961, with more than 1,000 East Germans a day leaving to West Berlin, Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev gave the east Germans the go-ahead and were greatly surprised at how fast they acted.



Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Five Myths About the Berlin Wall-- Part 1: 25 Years Ago This Month

From the November 2, 2014, Chicago Tribune by Hope M. Harrison.

November 9, 1989, was an amazing day in history for me.  Something that I thought would always be there essentially came down with its opening.  I'm talking about the Berlin Wall.  This also was the death knell of the Soviet Union and to a large degree, Communism.  Two other things I thought would always be with us.  I was able to get a very small piece of it from friends who went to Germany shortly afterwards.  I would pass it around in my classes after that so the kids could touch some real history.

This was always a point in the very real Cold War.

These are some interesting things about the wall that most people don't know:

1.  THE BERLIN WALL WAS ONE WALL.  In fact, it was two walls separated by up to 160 yards of a death strip with guards (with shoot-to-kill orders), towers, dogs, floodlights, tripwires.  There were also over a million mines along the border between East and West Germany.

More than 5,000 East Germans managed to escape despite these obstacles.  Hundreds, perhaps thousands, died.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Civil War Trust to Preserve Revolutionary War Battlefields on This Veterans Day

The Civil War Trust, the nation's largest Civil War battlefield preservation group, who have saved over 40,000 acres of the field of conflict from that war, will announce today that they will now also save Revolutionary War battlefields as part of their expanding mission.

The announcement will be made at the Princeton Battle memorial in New Jersey.

Glad to hear It.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Al Capone's Old House-- Part 3

Barbara Hogsette, current owner raised a son in the first floor apartment and rents out the second floor.  She originally listed it in 2008 for $450,000 and thinks the house is a good investment, though few remnants from Capone are still there.

The gold-leaf cornices which Capone imported from Italy are there, but not the 7-foot European tubs because parts to fix them couldn't be found.

However, the original garage still stands, one of the largest in the neighborhood, where Capone kept his big, fancy cars.

Every spring and summer, Hogsette says she gets a steady stream of people riding by to take a look.

--Maybe a Mob Museum?  --Cooter

Al Capone's Old House-- Part 2

By Dahleen Glanton.

The brick two-flat at 7244 S. Prairie Avenue in Chicago's Park Manor neighborhood hasn't sold in 831 days, despite a drop in asking price from $300,000 to $225,000.  It now houses two apartments.  There are some fears that it might be torn down, but not too likely.

There is also a movement on to have it given landmark status.

The Capones bought it for $5,500 in August 1923.  They were among the wave of first- and second-generation immigrants who moved to this South Side neighborhood during Prohibition.  Historians say the home at 72nd Street and Prairie Avenue was his safe haven.  His mother, Teresa, and his wife, Mae, signed the original deed.

According to a December 1927 Chicago Tribune story, Capone once holed up in the house after police threatened to arrest him if he stepped outside.

Capone went to prison in 1931 and had moved to a home in Florida by the time of his death in 1947, but his mother continued to live in the house until she died in 1952.

A Piece of Chicago History.  --DaCoot

Now, You Can Buy Al Capone's House-- Part 1

From the October 29, 2014, Chicago Tribune"A humble home, owned by Capone.

"It's yours for $225,000.  The former home of Chicago crime boss Al Capone is for sale, but has languished on the market for 831 days without a nibble.  The Capones bought the building for $5,500 in August 1923.

"The brick two-flat is now owned by 77-year-old Barbara Hogsette, a retired teacher who bought the building in 1963 and still lives there.  She thinks the house is a good investment, but says there aren't many remnants of the notorious gangster left after several renovations."

Like, Bang, Bang. Shoot 'Em Up!!  --Cooter

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Deaths: Long-Suffering Mrs. Kotter from "Welcome Back Kotter"

MARCIA STRASSMAN, 66  Died October 24, 2014.

Played the lead role of Gabe's long-suffering wife on "Welcome Back Kotter."  Also was in the movie "Honey I Shrank the Kids" and its sequel.  She had a recurring role in "M,A,S.H.".

The poor lady had to listen to Kotter's stories about his family and the Sweathogs were liable to come a-visiting at any time.

A few years ago I was surprised to find out she was also a singer and in 1967 had a top 40 hit in several western radio markets with "Flower Children" which stalled at #105 on Billboard.

"Julie Kotter" also appeared on episodes of the Rockford Files, Love Boat and Magnum P.I..

Being a teacher at the time, I sure liked this show.

Deaths: Barney Miller Co-Creator Ted Flicker

TED FLICKER, 84.  Died September.  Co-creator of the TV series "Barney Miller."  He also wrote episodes for:

The Dick Van Dyke Show
The Andy Griffith Show
Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Streets of San Francisco
I dream of Jeannie.

These were all favorite TV shows on mine, especially Barney Miller.

"The Princess Bride" Fencing Scene and the Brady House

From the Oct. 12, 2014, Parade Magazine "Walter Scott's Personality Parade."

QUESTION--  Did Cary Elwes and Mandy Patkin use stunt doubles in "The Princess Bride's" fencing scene?

ANSWER--  They didn't.  To make it believable, director Rob "Meathead" Reiner asked them to learn fencing.  They practiced for two months.  That was a really amazing bit of fencing.

QUESTION--  If the "Brady Bunch" house went on the market today, how much would it sell for?

ANSWER--  The famed home from the sitcom was put on the market for $2 million in 2008, with a mortgage of almost $10,000 a month (getting close to my monthly taxes).  That's a lot of cash with a family of eight, including a live-in housekeeper.  Mike Brady's architect salary of $75,000 wouldn't come close to paying for the split-level, which is located along the Los Angeles River in the San Fernando Valley.

"Inconceivable!!" --DaCoot