Monday, August 31, 2009

I'm Here to Take You Back to Fort Smith and Hang You.

What a day.

Got incredibly sound sleep last night, after eschewing reading and turning in at an uncharacteristically early 1 am. Slept like a rock, not moving the entire night until waking up to the sound of my Sweet Maggie coming downstairs at about 9. Felt wonderful. Got up, dove into work, getting all of the newsletters done, not only for Piranha but for my other two clients as well, submitting invoices... intermixed in there was stuff related to the rug shop website, as well as watching a pair of WW2-related documentaries... standing in sharp contrast to the raft of stand-up comedian routines I've watched over the past couple days.

The first was called On Common Ground. It was a documentary (just over an hour) that centered around a group of US Army veterans returning to the Huertgen Forest, more than a half-century after the grueling battle that took place there... if you know anything about that battle, you know that it was the longest single battle the US Army has ever fought, in its history, lasting from mid September 1944 to mid February 1945. 30,000 casualties for the Allies and 33,000 casualties for the Germans. It was frozen hell on earth, and in incredibly dense forest, under near constant artillery fire. If you've seen Band of Brothers, the episode(s) that deal(s) with that battle are, I'm sure, in mind now.

What made it more interesting was that concurrently, the doc deals with a group of German veterans of the same battle. Of course, the US veterans arrange to make a trip out to Germany, not only to revisit the Huertgen forest battlegrounds, but to meet the group of German veterans. Sounds great on paper - the execution of the reunion was more than a little awkward. There were plenty of cordial faces and warm handshakes, but there was a strong undercurrent of uneasiness that made the last third of the doc a little hard to watch. Still, to look into the faces of these old grizzled vets and hear them tell their stories, with that distant but unwavering gaze in their eyes... gives me chills every time.

The other documentary was called Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary. This was absolutely riveting to me... it was about as 'no frills' a production I had ever seen. Apparently, this young German lady named Traudl Junge, through a series of serendipitious events, became Hitler's secretary in 1942, and remained so until the end of the war. The documentary consists simply of Frau Junge sitting, telling her story to an interviewer. It's basically the raw video footage of the series of interviews that a pair of authors recorded for the purpose of writing a book about her. Like most people that went through the war, Frau Junge basically kept silent about her story for decades. She said the burden to tell the story has weighed on her heavily over the recent past, so she agreed to give the interviews so that the book could be written.

Needless to say, they also cut these video interviews into this rough documentary, because it is so amazingly fascinating. She recounts all that she could about the events of her childhood, how she ended up in Hitler's service, the way he was in private, daily life, tons of little anecdotes that she tells with a mixture of horror and amazement - that she could have so admired a man that was doing incredibly horrible things that she had no clue about. She took dictation, basically, and lived in the bunkers, traveling with Hitler and his circle. She was at the mountain compound when the Valkyre assassination attempt took place, talking to Hitler in the immediate aftermath, describing his exulted mood of triumph and confirmation, feeling that God had spared him and confirmed his mission, which he would now pursue until the end. She was there in Berlin, when things dissolved, taking his last will and testament. She tried to entertain the Goebbel's children in the lead-up to their death by their mother's hand (unknown to her, of course). She described when Hitler gave his last farewells and killed himself. She described in detail her friendship and interactions with Eva Braun. But mostly she recounts the way that the bunker was so isolated and psychologically numbing - they really had no clue what was going on in the world. She said they all felt trapped. And when Hitler finally killed himself, she said they were all like limp puppets, missing their puppet masters...

I know not everyone digs this kind of stuff - I really am trying to be brief here. But I find it ridiculously fascinating... and all it was was a woman sitting there for 90 minutes, talking in German, with subtitles, watching her face as she wrestled with this giant thing inside her that has been eating at her since the war. You could see the pain and guilt and confusion and self-doubt, as she pondered (for the zillionth time) how she could have been so close, and yet have no clue what was really happening. Should she have known what he really was? Should she have tried to do something about it, being so incredibly close to him? Could she have?

She ended up dying in the hospital the night that this movie was to premiere. I guess she finally was at rest, having told her story. Anyway, no news to you all... WW2 is endlessly fascinating to me.

In the mail today, I received two more of the books I ordered. That means all 4 of the used fantasy books I ordered are here, as well as a copy of Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson that Joseph passed onto Rebekeh, to pass on to me at Church yesterday. At the moment, I'm still reading The Talisman by Stephen King, which is barely holding me. Honestly, it isn't really very well written... and with all of these awesome new books (and several of the older ones I still have yet to read) all calling my name, I may ditch the Talisman and turn to something else.

Joe Abercrombie announced his next project on his blog the other day - a new book called The Heroes (working title). Here's a snippet from his synopsis:
It's called The Heroes, both because the action centres around a ring of standing stones called the Heroes, and because it's about heroism and all that (meant semi-ironically, of course). It mostly takes place over the course of three days, and is the story of a single battle for control of the North. Think The Lord of the Rings meets A Bridge Too Far, with a sprinkling of Band of Brothers and Generation Kill.
You can dart over to his blog if you want to read more about it. He says it will feature some characters and settings in common with his First Law series, and that he's aiming for a Feb 2011 release window. Being that it's about a battle, perhaps there will be less of what I found to be rather illogical/unpalatable in Best Served Cold.

I know all this is boring to most of you. Good thing the Movie Quote Contest starts up again tomorrow, eh? MUAHAHAHA!!!!

I do have a cool video for you tonight. Some of you might have seen it already over on Today's Big Thing. I had seen it before, a few months ago, but forgot about it. Don't know how I could have forgotten about it - it's pretty memorable and amazing. Check this out...


Can you imagine having the nad to do that? You know one day you'll read about that guy being messily killed by those lions. Kind of reminds me of that Grizzly Bear guy that pulled that crap with the bears up in Alaska, and paid for it big time... You'd think the Siegfried and Roy debacle would show this guy to tread carefully.

Maybe I should email him this pic, eh?

Cat fight!

I guess I should apologize for yesterday's dog pic. I thought it was funny, in a goofy, kind of manic way... at least, that's how I saw it. Several people have commented on it, and now I can see more of a panic and desperation in the dog's face than the big, goofy grin I saw at first. My apologies to those that were weirded out.

Anyway, sorry for the mellow post tonight. Hey, sometimes I'm mellow, what can I say. Gonna go see if it's my turn in any of my Facebook Scrabble games, then go read and hit the hay. Until tomorrow, remember, this blank stare speaks only of a half-bored interest in food.

5 comments:

logankstewart said...

Dave, my wife is extremely interested in the Holocaust and the events surrounding it. There is something fascinating (albeit macabre) in looking at the lives of Hitler and his minions, though it has to be taken in small doses or one can be overwhelmed.

Krista said...

I love the WW2 stuff! Anyway, glad to hear you have Mistborn in your hands! Can't wait to see what you think. aLL THE BEST!

Joseph said...

Woo! Blog mention!

havah said...

Lovely start-up photo. I like the wind-lines in the sand.

It's hard not to be even nominally fascinated by Hitler and WWII...I think more than anything, we seek to understand something that is incomprehensible on so many levels. The interview with the secretary is something I'd love to see. What an incredible psychological study that whole situation would make.

As for the lion man...South Africans are weird. What more can I say? Beautiful animals though...well cared for. What really got me though was him pulling the hyena away at the end. You know how strong those animals jaws are?!

btw...sorry I got to the blog so late: I too slept last night. Must be an end of August thing.

Abbie said...

the lions fighting is an awesome picture :) sorry for not being in tuned to the scrabble game lately, I DON"T WANT TO FORFEIT!! I just took a mini break right now, working out some employment issues :P hopefully should be back on tmrw or thur!!!