Marlene Dietrich

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On her birthday it is time to look back at Marlene Dietrich’s WWII efforts.

Marie MagdaleneMarleneDietrich ( 27 December 1901 – 6 May 1992)was a German actress and singer who held both German and American citizenship. Throughout her unusually long career, which spanned from the 1910s to the 1980s, she maintained popularity by continually reinventing herself.

In the 1920s in Berlin, Dietrich acted on the stage and in silent films. Her performance as Lola-Lola in The Blue Angel (1930) brought her international fame and resulted in a contract with Paramount Pictures.

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Dietrich starred in Hollywood films such as Morocco (1930), Shanghai Express (1932), and Desire (1936). She successfully traded on her glamorous persona and “exotic” looks, and became one of the highest-paid actresses of the era. Throughout World War II, she was a high-profile entertainer in the United States.

Dietrich was known to have strong political convictions and the mind to speak them. In interviews, Dietrich stated that she had been approached by representatives of the Nazi Party to return to Germany but had turned them down flat. In the late 1930s, Dietrich created a fund with Billy Wilder and several other Germans to help Jews and dissidents escape from Germany.

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In 1937, her entire salary for Knight Without Armor (450,000) was put into escrow to help the refugees. In 1939, she became an American citizen and renounced her German citizenship. In December 1941, the U.S. entered World War II, and Dietrich became one of the first celebrities to help sell war bonds.

She toured the US from January 1942 to September 1943 (appearing before 250,000 troops on the Pacific Coast leg of her tour alone) and was reported to have sold more war bonds than any other star.

During two extended tours for the USO in 1944 and 1945, she performed for Allied troops in Algeria, Italy, the UK and France, then went into Germany with Generals James M. Gavin and George S. Patton.

 

When asked why she had done this, in spite of the obvious danger of being within a few kilometers of German lines, she replied, “aus Anstand“—”out of decency”.Wilder later remarked that she was at the front lines more than Eisenhower. Her revue, with Danny Thomas as her opening act, included songs from her films, performances on her musical saw (a skill she had originally acquired for stage appearances in Berlin in the 1920s) and a pretend “mindreading” act. Dietrich would inform the audience that she could read minds and ask them to concentrate on whatever came into their minds. Then she would walk over to a soldier and earnestly tell him, “Oh, think of something else. I can’t possibly talk about that!” American church papers reportedly published stories complaining about this part of Dietrich’s act.

In 1944, the Morale Operations Branch of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) initiated the Musak project, musical propaganda broadcasts designed to demoralize enemy soldiers. Dietrich, the only performer who was made aware that her recordings would be for OSS use, recorded a number of songs in German for the project, including “Lili Marleen”, a favorite of soldiers on both sides of the conflict.Major General William J. Donovan, head of the OSS, wrote to Dietrich, “I am personally deeply grateful for your generosity in making these recordings for us.”

 

At the war’s end in Europe, Dietrich reunited with her sister Elisabeth and her sister’s husband and son. They had resided in the German city of Belsen throughout the war years, running a cinema frequented by Nazi officers and officials who oversaw the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Dietrich’s mother remained in Berlin during the war, her husband moved to a ranch in the San Fernando Valley of California. Dietrich vouched on behalf of her sister and her sister’s husband, sheltering them from possible prosecution as Nazi collaborators. Dietrich would later omit the existence of her sister and her sister’s son from all accounts of her life, completely disowning them and claiming to be an only child.

Dietrich received the Medal of Freedom in November 1947. She said this was her proudest accomplishment. She was also awarded the Légion d’honneur by the French government for her wartime work

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The Sounds of WWII

In every war music is very important, the same applied to WWII. Music lifted the spirit and boosted the morale of the troops. Organisations like USO(United Service Organisation) and the British equivalent ENSA(Entertainments National Service Association) provided much needed entertainment for the troops.

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Starts like Vera Lynn,Bob Hope and Irving Berlin would often perform for soldiers all over the world.

Often these entertainers would do this at the risk of their own lives.Dancer Vivian Hole (stage name Vivienne Fayre) was killed in the Netherlands in 1945 when the scenery truck in which she was travelling ran over a land-mine.

But the sounds of WWII were more then just songs or jokes, they were also broadcasts by the resistance to convey messages .Below are some of the sounds of WWII.

Broadcasts would begin with “Before we begin, please listen to some personal messages.” It was clear to nearly everyone that they were coded messages, often amusing, and completely without context. Representative messages include “Jean has a long mustache” and “There is a fire at the insurance agency,” each one having some meaning to a certain resistance groups.

Excerpts from Radio Londres. These messages were inserted with the radio program in the form of personal greetings, they were often peculiar and obviously had hidden meanings intended to a specific audience. The last two messages (taken from the poem, Chanson d’automne) was to inform the underground movement that Operation Overlord (D-Day landings) was to commence in 24 hours.

 

1945: Churchill announcing the end of World War II in Europe

Vera Lynn

Irving Berlin

George Formby

The Andrew Sisters

Bob Hope and Jerry Colonna

BBC D-day announcement

A great script does matter

I am a great fan of TV Dramas and Movies and despite a lot of critics saying that the last few years the quality has gone down, I believe that this isn’t really the case.

Particularly the TV Shows have really improved, I think it was shows like the Sopranos that really raised the bar.

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TV Channels and production companies like HBO, Showtime and AMC have really invigorated the TV landscape, throw in the mix Netflix and Amazon Prime and the online entertainment is complete. If it wasn’t for these companies who basically gave a cart blanch to TV Show makers we would have never had show like Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and their spin off Better Call Saul and Fear the Walking Dead

Shows like Ray Donovan, House of Cards,Bosch,Homeland and Game of Thrones would have never been aired, especially Game of Thrones with an often graphic and even pornographic content.

So on TV front I think the quality has gone up dramatically, but of course this is all a matter of taste. The one thing these shows have in common they are all character driven and it is evident that a lot of time is spend on the scripts.

Take Game of Thrones for example, although some of the graphic scenes are really ‘in your face’ it doesn’t take away from the character, Peter Dinklage who plays  his character Tyrion Lannister  so convincing that you don’t even notice his small stature.

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However unfortunately there are shows who started so promising but really failed to maintain the initial strong story lines.

Lost, took the world by a storm but at the end it ended in a damp squib. It really felt like the producers wanted to drag it out to get as much money as possible from the show  at the cost of a good script. They should have kept to the originally planned 3 seasons.

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Another prime example is Heroes. It started of great it had everything one could want in a show about heroes and villains, until season 3 that is where they came up with this ridiculous story line based in Cork,Ireland with the worse Irish accents I ever heard. But I could get over the accents, the worse thing here was they showed heavily armed security guards in a warehouse,not even the Police have guns in Ireland. That was just lazy script writing.

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One show that kept me interested until the very last episode was True Blood, unfortunately after all the hard work they had put in , it seemed that they had just given up at the very end. I have never have been more disappointed by a finale then with True Blood it was the mother of all anti-climaxes.

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By no stretch of the imagination am I a fan of the Irish national broadcaster RTE, but they did produce one of the most realistic and gritty crime drama’s even for international standards.

When I first heard of Love/Hate I had closed my mind to it, solely because of the fact it was made by RTE, but boy was I wrong. It is one of my all time favorites on par with The Sopranos ,Ray Donovan and Breaking Bad.

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Funny enough it was our Scandinavian brethren who produced some of the finest pieces of Crime drama this century, although subtitled the characters were so strong that you’d nearly forget they were talking Danish and Swedish. I am of course talking about The Killing(Forbrydelsen), the Bridge(Bron/Broen) and Wallander(well that is still Wallander in Swedish). I wasn’t to impressed with the BBC version with Kenneth Branagh.

When it comes to TV Shows I do tend to have a preference to Police Drama’s as a kid I grew up watching the German cop shows Derrick and Tatort, the latter one meaning Crime Scene, so basically it was CSI before ‘the’ CSI.

There might be more of a case when it comes to the Big screen to say the quality of movies just isn’t what it used to be and a lot of it is because of dodgy CGI, but having that said some of my all time favorite movies were made the last 16 years or so. Gladiator,The Lord of the Rings Trilogy,The Dark Knight trilogy, Pan’s Labyrinth and I am Legend, to name but a few. Again all these movies even though they were jam packed with special effects they were still character driven and a lot of attention was given to the script.But also movies like Gran Torino and Gone baby Gone are masterpieces.

I do get over some minor discrepancies in scripts, like in the recent ‘Captain America-Civil War’ where they mix up one German word, although it is annoying for a linguist like me, it didn’t take away the overall enjoyment of the movie.

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However when they mess up a whole scene by having a Finnish guy speak German as if it was Finnish is just lazy and unforgivable , this was the case in Swordfish,maybe that’s why Halle Berry took her top off to distract from the bad and lazy script.

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All in all as a viewer I think we are spoiled for choice in both TV and Cinema features.

Elvis and the Colonel

It may surprise many people but Elvis never performed outside of the Americas. The only country outside the US he ever toured was Canada, and even with that it was a short tour of about 5 concerts.In 1957 Elvis performed two shows at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on April 2, two shows at the Auditorium in Ottawa on April 3, and one show at Empire Stadium in Vancouver on August 31.

Elvis did spend some time in Germany serving the US army, and whilst there he did visit Paris and he did have a stop over in Scotland.Between 1958 and 1960

The reason for not going abroad is not because he didn’t like travelling or was afraid to fly, which some have suggested, no the reason is more simple than that albeit also a bit sinister.

The reason was Colonel Tom Parker, he is often seen as the man behind Elvis’s success but in fact he wasn’t a nice man at all.

Colonel Thomas Andrew “Tom” Parker (born Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk; June 26, 1909 – January 21, 1997)

“The Colonel” displayed a ruthless devotion to his own financial gain, rather than his client’s interests, and took more than the traditional 10–15 percent of his earnings (reaching up to 50 percent by the end of Presley’s life). Presley said of Parker, “I don’t think I’d have ever been very big if it wasn’t for him. He’s a very smart man. For many years, Parker falsely claimed to have been born in the United States, but it eventually emerged that he had been born in the Netherlands.

http://www.geni.com/people/Dries-van-Kuijk-alias-The-Colonel-Tom-Parker/6000000034574144222

These are some of the theories believed Col.Parker used as excuses .

  • Parker’s claims that foreign security was poor, relative to the USA.
  • Parker’s belief that outside influences (managers, agents etc.) would inform Presley of how unusual his contract with Parker was.
  • Parker’s claim that there was a lack of venues large enough to accommodate a star of Presley’s stature. All of these excuses were given to Presley when he would show an interest in touring abroad and, known to avoid confrontation, Presley would never argue against them.
  • Some promoters wanted to charge fans the equivalent of $100 per ticket. Parker did not wish the fans to be ripped off, and this was another reason he turned down overseas offers.

In fact Col.Parker had entered the USA illegally

At age 15, Parker moved to Rotterdam, gaining employment on the boats in the port town.At age 17, he first displayed signs of wanting to run away to America to “make his fortune”.A year later, with enough money to sustain him for a short period, he entered America illegally by jumping ship from his employer’s vessel. During his first visit there, he traveled with a Chautauqua educative tent show, before returning briefly to the Netherlands. there were questions about a murder in Breda in which Parker might have been a suspect or at least a person of interest.This might have motivated Parker to avoid seeking a passport, as the Netherlands has an active extradition treaty with the United States, and Parker might have wanted to avoid criminal arrest by Dutch authorities in that case.

Parker returned to America at age 20, finding work with carnivals due to his previous experience in the Netherlands.He enlisted in the United States Army, taking the name “Tom Parker” from the officer who interviewed him, to disguise the fact he was an illegal immigrant.

He never became Colonel either, in fact he had deserted the Army He was punished with solitary confinement, from which he emerged with a psychosis that led to two months in a mental hospital,and he was discharged from the Army due to his mental condition.

After the Army Tom Parker had several jobs in fact he was barely surviving the great depression.

His first steps into the entertainment industry were taken in 1938 , when he met one of America’s first crooners Gene Austin.

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Austin offered Parker the opportunity to move to Nashville, Tennessee, where music was becoming big business, but for reasons unknown Parker turned him down. Instead, Parker decided to stay in Temple Terrace, Florida, with his family, perhaps to avoid having to fill in paperwork that could expose his illegal status.Within a year, however, he had the opportunity to become a legal citizen within the United States by way of the 1940 Alien Registration Act; a bill passed by the United States Government to allow illegal aliens the chance to become US citizens in return for their promise to fight for the country during World War II, if required. Parker decided against registering, possibly to prevent his previous Army record from becoming public.

This is indicates the paranoia ‘Colonel Tom Parker’ was suffering from.

He did manage a few more artists, Minnie Pearl,Tommy Sands and Hank Snow

However in 1955 Parker became aware of this young singer called Elvis. In February 1955 Elvis signed a contract with Tom Parker, which basically sealed his fate in relation to touring outside of America.

There is no doubt that Tom Parker did turn Elvis into the icon he has become, but I believe Elvis would have become the star he was anyway even without Tom Parker.

Following Presley’s death, Parker set up a licensing operation with Factors Etc. Inc, to control Presley merchandise and keep a steady income supporting his estate. It was later revealed that Presley owned 22% of the company, Parker owned 56%, and the final 22% was made up of various business associates.[Due to an ill-advised agreement between Parker and Presley that gave RCA sole ownership of all his recording royalties prior to 1973, the estate was relying heavily on the income from Factors Etc. Inc. However, because Parker was still entitled to 50% of all Presley’s income, and after taxes were taken off, the overall amount going towards the upkeep of the estate was less than $1 million a year.

In January 1979, it was discovered that Presley had lost out on royalties for songs on which he had been listed as an author and/or composer because Parker had unwisely advised him not to sign up to ASCAP or its younger competitor,BMI.Experts in the field at the time estimated that it had potentially cost Presley millions of dollars and worse for Parker, it had also potentially cost him those millions of dollars.

By 1980, the cost of running the estate was estimated to be as much as $500,000 a year.Priscilla and the Trust were prepared to let Parker continue to handle Presley’s business affairs, and petitioned the court to that end.However, Judge Joseph Evans, aware that Lisa Marie Presley was still a minor, appointed attorney Blanchard E. Tual to investigate Parker’s management.Tual, once appointed as Lisa Marie’s guardian ad litem, chose to investigate the entire period of Parker’s management of Presley; his preliminary finding was that Parker’s management deal of 50% was extortionate compared to the industry average of 15–20%.He also noted that Parker’s handling of Presley’s business affairs during his lifetime, including the decision to sell off past royalties to RCA for $5.4 million in 1973, was “unethical” and poorly handled. During a second, more detailed investigation, Tual discovered that all earnings were paid directly to the Trust instead of Parker. By this time, with the IRS demanding almost $15 million in taxes, the estate was facing bankruptcy.The truth about Parker was now known.

On August 14, 1981, Judge Evans ordered EPE to sue Parker for mismanagement. In response to this, Parker countersued.The case against Parker was settled out of court in 1983, with the estate paying him $2 million,and the termination of his involvement in any Presley related earnings for five years.He was also ordered to hand over any Presley audio recordings or visual images that he owned.

Parker had worked as a “consultant” for Hilton Hotels since Presley’s death,with some believing he was working to pay off debts owed to the casino from his gambling during Presley’s performances there.Part of this role resulted in Parker keeping the same fourth-floor suite he occupied when Presley was alive, but by 1984, with his gambling debts reportedly rising again, he was evicted.On the surface, however, relations between the two were as good as ever, with Parker helping the Hilton to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Presley’s death.

The disputes with the Presley estate did not terminate his association with his most high-profile client. Parker appeared at posthumous events honoring Presley, such as the 1993 issuing of the United States Postal Service stamp honoring the King of Rock and Roll. He also became friendly with the estate again, attending special ceremonies and events in Memphis, invited by Priscilla. However, he did occasionally step on their toes by commenting negatively on some of their decisions. In 1994, following the marriage of Lisa Marie and Michael Jackson, Parker stated that Presley would not have approved,and in 1993, interest in Presley’s enduring legend, interest that is sometimes notable for its obsessiveness, provoked Parker to remark, “I don’t think I exploited Elvis as much as he’s being exploited today.

In 1994, a Golden Palm Star on the Walk of Stars in Palm Springs, California was dedicated to him.

I don’t know what is more amazing, the fact that the Colonel was Elvis’s manager for so long or that it was. The mystery of Colonel Parker’s identity could have already been solved in 1960, when Drees van Kuijk’s(aka Col. Tom Parker) sister recognized her brother when she saw his picture with Elvis in a newspaper. Until now it is still unclear why the authorities didn’t act.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/colonel-parker-managed-elvis-career-but-was-he-a-killer-on-the-lam-108042206/?no-ist

Ironically because of all this Elvis became the front runner in technology in a way. Not many artists before him had done global concerts via satellite. His concert Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite was broadcast to more then 40 countries. Viewing figures have been estimated to be between 1 and 1.5 billion viewers worldwide. The show was the most expensive entertainment special at the time, costing $2.5 million.

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I have been an Elvis fan all of my life and until this day I still vividly remember where I was when I heard the news when he passed away. I was about 9 at the time, when I came home from school that day,my mother told me the news.I pretended as if it meant nothing to me, but I ran up the stairs and cried like I never cried before, It felt like I just lost a close friend or family member.

This is one of my favorite songs by the King.

 

The Eighties

 

The decade probably best described as the ‘Paradox Decade’ Why? I hear you ask.Allow me to elaborate.

It was the decade that gave us great music like New Wave,New Romantics, the New wave of British heavy metal,bands like the Cure,Duran Duran,Iron Maiden and even Bon Jovi (before they went all Country and Western)to name but a few.

However in tandem it is also the decade where the demise of the music started with the numerous Stock Aitken and Waterman acts.

It was the decade where testosterone fueled Rock anthems were played by men who looked like women.

Who could forget the drama that had as all glued to the TV to find out who shot one of America’s biggest oil tycoons on that ranch Southfork, just outside of Dallas. The Ewings hit by more then one tragedy. Bobby Ewing who had disappeared for god knows how long just to appear again in the shower as of nothing happened. No this wasn’t the prequel to the X Files, it was in fact the Uber Soap called Dallas.

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We celebrated the lives and times of another oil magnate family in Dynasty and that of a wine family in Falcon Crest basically they were all identical shows just set in different locations, but boy did we love them.

 

On this side of the Atlantic we were following the antics of 2 brothers and their grandfather and later uncle in Only Fools and Horses

It was the decade where it was acceptable for women to display their shoulders as if they were injected with some alien DNA making their shoulders bigger then the rest of their bodies, wearing your underwear as street fashion was not frowned upon.As for men they could wear their blazers over T-Shirts and there was no longer the requirement to wear socks.

On a serious note it is in this decade where Political Correctness started sneaking in. The music industry was subjected to censorship which resembled the McCarthy era.The Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) was an American committee formed in 1985 with the stated goal of increasing parental control over the access of children to music deemed to be violent, have drug use or be sexual via labeling albums with Parental Advisory stickers. The committee was founded by four women: Tipper Gore(Tipper is the name she chose, I kid you not), wife of Senator and later Vice President Al Gore; Susan Baker, wife of Treasury Secretary James Baker; Pam Howar, wife of Washington realtor Raymond Howar; and Sally Nevius, wife of former Washington City Council Chairman John Nevius.

Their actions did actually the opposite effect they had hoped for, these labels actually became a badge of honor of sorts. Of course when you tell teenagers(and adults) something is bad for them. it makes it more exciting for them. A lot of bands purposely made sure to get the labels on their album because they were guaranteed sales.The labels are still used nowadays but no one takes notice of them.

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At the end of the decade the end of the Iron Curtain was heralded, in November 1989 the Berlin wall came down.This was the start of the end of the cold war. However in retrospect I am not sure if the cold war ever ended.

I am leaving you with the ultimate 80’s song, well at least in my opinion, originally recorded by Gloria Jones in 1965, but it was turned into a Mega Hit by Soft Cell in 1981.

Forgotten History- ABBA and WW2

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The baby in this picture is no other than Anni-Frid Synni Lyngstad, from ABBA.She was one of the approximately 12,000 known as the Tyskerbarnas or German children.

Anni-Frid Lyngstad’s story is typical of the suffering of thousands. After her birth in November 1945 – the result of a liaison between her mother, Synni, and a German sergeant, Alfred Haase – her mother and grandmother were branded as traitors and ostracized in their village in northern Norway. They were forced to emigrate to Sweden, where Anni-Frid’s mother died of kidney failure before her daughter was two.

She found her father by chance three decades later. They met for an emotional reunion in her Swedish villa, instigated by Benny Anderson, an Abba founder and Anni-Frid’s then husband.

 

It is alleged that some 0f these ‘Tyskerbarnas’ were even used as guinea pigs in drugs trials. These kids were part of a programme called Lebensborn e.V. (literally: “Fount of Life”) was an SS-initiated, state-supported, registered association in Nazi Germany with the goal of raising thebirth rate of “Aryan” children via extramarital relations of persons classified as “racially pure and healthy” based on Nazi racial hygiene and health ideology. Lebensborn encouraged anonymous births by unmarried women, and mediated adoption of these children by likewise “racially pure and healthy” parents, particularly SS members and their families.

Himmler regarded the Norwegians with their blue eyes and blond hair as especially Aryan and pure.

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Initially set up in Germany in 1935, Lebensborn expanded into several occupied European countries with Germanic populations during the Second World War. It included the selection of “racially worthy” orphans for adoption and care for children born from Aryan women who had been in relationships with SS members. It originally excluded children born from unions between common soldiers and foreign women, because there was no proof of racial purity on both sides

These children (and also their mothers) were not treated very nicely by the post-war Norwegian authorities. When you were born in one of the “Lebensborn” homes, you could be institutionalized just because it was assumed that if your mother got involved with a German, she must have been mentally ill and you must have inherited her insanity or at least her debility. This would often result in forced adoptions and also sexual abuse.

Anni-frid Lyngstad was taken by her grandmother to Sweden, where they settled in the region of Härjedalen and her grandmother took any available job. Lyngstad’s mother, Synni, remained in Norway and worked for a period in the south of the country. Synni joined her mother and daughter in Sweden, and the three moved to Malmköping (72 km from Stockholm). Synni soon died of kidney failure, aged 21 leaving Lyngstad to be raised solely by her grandmother. In June 1949, they both relocated to Torshälla (just outside Eskilstuna), where Agny Lyngstad worked as a seamstress. Frida Lyngstad grew up in Torshälla and began attending school there in August 1952. Close contact with her family in Norway (notably her uncle and four aunts) continued, and Lyngstad recalls summer holidays spent with them at her birthplace. She was especially close to her Aunt Olive, who once stated that she saw how lonely and subdued Frida was and, as a result, always did her best to make her feel loved and welcomed during visits.

Her Father Alfred Haase died in 2009.

 

The walking dead

The extremely popular TV show will return on the screens on the 12th of February.

I am also a great fan of the show. Previous to this I wasn’t really that interested in the whole zombie genre,prior to that the only 2 movies I had seen were The Evil Dead and Braindead and frankly I wasn’t too impressed by them.

However “the Walking dead” captured my imagination maybe it is because the characters are well written and it is very character driven rather than the special effects which are also pretty cool.

It made me wonder though where did this global fascination come from and where did it originate?

A zombie is a fictional undead being created through the reanimation of a human corpse The term comes from Haitian Folklore, where a Zombie is a dead body reanimated through various methods, most commonly magic. Modern depictions of zombies do not necessarily involve magic but invoke other methods such as viruses.

There is some speculation that the word derives from West African languages – ndzumbi means ‘corpse’ in the Mitsogo language of Gabon, andnzambi means the ‘spirit of a dead person’ in the Kongo language. These were the areas where European slavers forcibly transported vast numbers of the population across the Atlantic to work in the sugar cane plantations of the West Indies, the vast profits of which motored the rise of France and England to world powers. The Africans took their religion with them. However, French law required slaves to convert to Catholicism. What emerged was a series of elaborate synthetic religions, creatively mixing elements of different traditions: Vodou or Voodoo in Haiti, Obeah in Jamaica, Santeria in Cuba.

Witch Doctor

The zombie, in effect, is the logical outcome of being a slave

The English word zombie is first recorded in 1819, in “a History of Brazil” in the form Zombi by the poet Robert Southey.

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Nowadays Zombies have become a billion dollar industry with movies like “I am Legend” making $585,349,010 and “World War Z” making a meager $540,007,876. Not even to mention the success of the various books and graphic novels

It was also the inspiration for me to give it a go, hence Not Just a Guide Dog, be it with a different twist.

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/not-just-a-guide-dog

http://www.amazon.com/Not-just-guide-Dirk-Klein/dp/1517765684/ref=la_B018EFJ9FY_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1449159077&sr=1-1

Not just a guide dog

Not just a guide dog

Making a Murderer, the Steven Avery case

+++++ This Blog contains spoiler alerts++++++++

I watched the Netflix “Making a Murderer” over the last few days and last night I watched the ID Documentary “Steven Avery:Innocent or Guilty” they also referred to the Netflix documentary

Now I am not an investigator or law enforcement agent that’s why I am reserving my judgement whether he is Innocent or Guilty.

In fact at this stage it doesn’t really matter anymore whether he is or he isn’t.

Regardless of all the opinions and evidence used in the case there is one point which just can’t be refuted and that is the issue of ‘Reasonable Doubt’ and the handling by the Police in this case really creates enough cause to apply Reasonable Doubt. I know the term itself is vague enough but if you put all the things together you can only come to one conclusion which is that the DA and the Police are guilty of obstructing the cause of justice, that on its own should have been grounds to throw the case out of court.

It is going back to the 1st time Steven Avery had already spent 10 years in jail for a crime he hadn’t committed.

In 1995 Sgt Coburn who then worked at corrections gets a call from a law enforcement officer telling him that they have the wrong man in jail for the rape of a woman. Sgt Coburn does nothing with this information, he doesn’t even report it.Only 8 years later a few days before Steven Avery gets released he writes a report about it.When Steven Avery actually got out with new DNA evidence. This clearly indicates his incompetence. Does he get disciplined for this? No.

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I will not go into all the details of the case or documentaries I will leave up to yourselves to watch it , and please do watch it because it will be one of the most amazing stories you will ever hear.

I will however pick up a few facts which I found bizarre that they weren’t followed up on.

In about 80% of all cases where someone goes missing and ends up dead, a family member or someone close to the victims is the perpetrator.

Ryan Hillegas who was Teresa Halbach’s Ex Boyfriend(keyword here is Ex) was involved in the search party and appear to have access all areas, on top of that he hacked into Teresa’s voicemail, using Teresa’s password and username even though Teresa had never given him the details. Yet he was never questioned or considered a suspect

Teresa’s room mate Scott only reported her missing 4 days after she disappeared. Both Scott and Ryan tapped into Teresa’s phone records but Scott also was never questioned or considered a suspect.

None of Teresa’s family were ever questioned.

Then we have the DA who already branded Steven Avery and his Nephew Brendan Dassey as guilty in the media, given all sorts of details of the murder which weren’t true, he had basically already convicted them via trial by media. A jury member later stated that he thought Steven was guilty because of Press conference given by Ken Kratz

The DA who later emerged had been sexting a domestic abuse victim he had helped,extorting her into a relationship, after that news broke several women filed complaints about him, even though this isn’t linked to the case it does show what kind of person he is and the things he does to get what he wants.

Then there is the evidence itself. Allegedly Teresa had been killed in Steven’s bedroom she was stabbed ans shot but there was no blood found anywhere.

Steven Avery claims that he is being framed and the fact that, a blood sample taken from him in 1985, was tampered with clearly strengthen that claim. Regardless if the DA states that the needle hole in the top of the bottle is standard. It was clear that both seals in the outside and inside box were cut.

And most bizarrely of all 2 police officers Lt Lenk and Sgt Colborn from Manitowoc County who were both sued by Steven Averey because of the 18 years false imprisonment for a crime he hadn’t committed, were now active in the investigation of the murder of Teresa Halbach, haven’t they heard of conflict of interest.

The jury had been instructed to ignore the rape and stabbing remarks made by the DA in the press conference but one jury member stated afterwards that he had taken those remarks in consideration, in fact he had already said before the trial started that Steven and Brendan were guilty.

All of these things really should have been enough grounds for a mistrial or at least an appeal but that was also denied.

This means that if Steven didn’t kill Teresa, the real killer is walking free and it has been more then 10 years now since she has been killed, where the focus only has been on Steven and his nephew.

Steven Avery denies he killed her.

Do watch the documentaries though and make up your own mind, regardless what side you’ll be on it is a compelling story.

On Friday 12 August 2016, a federal judge in Wisconsin overturned the murder and sexual assault convictions of Brendan Dassey, and ordered his release from prison unless prosecutors schedule a new trial within 90 days. Dassey and his uncle, Steven Avery, were convicted for photographer Teresa Halbach’s 2005 murder and sentenced to life in prison, but their case became the subject of international attention thanks to the Netflix docuseries Making A Murderer. At the time of Halbach’s murder, Avery was just two years out of prison after serving 18 years for a rape he did not commit, and was on the brink of winning a $36 million lawsuit against Manitowoc County and the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department. The documentary gave credence to the theory that Avery might have been framed for Halbach’s murder in order to thwart the lawsuit.

The federal court’s unexpected and rare decision to overturn Dassey’s conviction is a massive win for the now 26-year-old, because unlike the case against Avery, which is full of physical evidence – contested though it may be – the only thing prosecutors had that linked Dassey to Halbach’s murder was his involuntary confession. However, prosecutors never called Dassey to testify at Avery’s trial, nor did they use his confession as evidence against Avery in court, so its suppression won’t have any immediate impact on Avery’s case. However, it stands to wonder whether the timing of this decision in Dassey’s favor, especially after all his state appeals had been denied, is a sign that the Wisconsin county’s beef with the Avery family is losing ground.

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http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/making-a-murderer-brendan-dasseys-conviction-overturned-and-could-be-free-in-90-days-34961467.html

 

Deutschland 83

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One of my favourite TV shows and I was delighted to find out there will be a second season called Deutschland 86, because it is set 3 years later.

I only lived literally a walking distance from Germany in 1983 and in fact most of my life. Growing up as a kid I didn’t really think anything of it but in hindsight it was kinda bizarre.

Little did I know then, that we were really not that far away from the ‘battlegrounds’ of the cold war, even though the fact there were plenty of staff of the AFCENT (Allied Forces Central Europe Netherlands) in town and surrounding cities. One of the former coal mines was actually used as part of their HQ.

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And surely the AWACS planes (a Boeing 707 type plane with a radar dish on top of it) should have been a give away.

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Oblivious I just went about my business without a care in the world. Naively I felt quite safe where I lived, because often I had seen American Marines marching between Geleen and Heerlen(two municipalities in the south of the Netherlands), chanting stuff like “I like working for Uncle Sam” In fact I thought it was cool, and in a way it was I suppose.

Not realizing those very soldiers were there to assist the Dutch army in case of a potetntial WW3 breaking out.

The Germans though were a funny bunch particularly when it came to their music. From the 50’s to the early 80’s there music was really Schlagers, it can only be described as German folk music I suppose, I would call it crap but it is still very popular with some people who I don’t want to offend.

At the start of the 80’s though a new direction of German music emerged, it was called ‘die Neue Deutsche Welle, New German wave and it brought a few great bands and songs to the front. Bands like Nena,Trio,Bap and indeed Peter Schilling whose song Major Tom is used as the theme for Deutschland 83

 

One of my favorites of the NDW is a Cologne band called BAP , the song is about the Kristal Nacht (in english known as the night of broken glass) from a dark period in German history. The band sings in the local Cologne dialect which is very similar to the Limburg dialect. I will leave it with that. I hope you enjoy this little peace of history. Enjoy the song.