Good news, new news and bad news

Good morning bookies! Stand by for news and comment.

The ‘life comes at you’ stuff that has eaten up my time in the last few months has been at it again, so my apologies for not having a blog up lately. This could continue for a while yet, but I hope not. Anyway, let’s get to today’s news and comment.

*** Ah, leave it to the French to make something good out of something very bad. In this case, the very bad part was surrendering to the Germans during World War II. Sure, the downside was pretty drastic, having German soldiers getting big discounts and the best tables in all of the swankiest restaurants, putting up with those drab Gestapo men standing on street corners giving you the creeps. No fun. But the upside! Ah, the upside. If you were a madam in a bordello, or even just a common streetwalker, those were the best of times.

At least, that’s the claim in a new book that has France all a-twitter. (No, not Twitter, a-twitter.) 1940-1945, Erotic Years by Patrick Buisson is a history of the French sex business during the German occupation. According to many of those Buisson interviewed for his book those years were an absolutely howling good time, business was booming for brothels and the Germans were just fun-loving teutons far from home who only wanted to have fun.

Quite predictably, the French aren’t wild about this book, portraying as it does a harsh reality many would like to forget, namely, that not only did the French Army gets its butt kicked badly but the French people weren’t all that upset about it. C’est la vie!

When the Germans came it was party time for the French!

*** I’m a big movie buff, especially good war movies, and double especially war movies about World Wars 1 and 2. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of good WW2 movies, but far fewer about WW1. I mean, once you’ve shown the horror of living in a mud-filled trench for months at a time, with machine guns ready to slice you in half and the occasional artillery barrage that might obliterate all traces you were ever there, there just isn’t all that much left to portray. Except for the very small number of movies about the war in the air. And one of the best of those was The Blue Max. George Peppard was great, of course, but the whole thing was well done.

Did you know that it was based on a book? It was. And that book’s author has, sadly, just passed away. Jack Hunter was 87 and lived in one of the great cities of America, St. Augustine, FL.

Blue Max author has written his last chapter

*** I have to admit that reading stories about great book collections being auctioned is something that I always find fascinating. I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s just the chance to see what other people collect, to wonder where they found this or that rarity. Anyway, he’s a short piece about a major collection going under the hammer down under.

New Zealand collection auctioned

*** When Burt Reynolds posed for Playgirl magazine there was quite an uproar. How could a man possibly be a pin-up? Women didn’t want or need that sort of thing, did they? It was considered bad form and, to a male eye, with good reason. But Burt wasn’t the first, oh no, not by a long shot. No doubt some ancient Roman had his likeness carved into a wall somewhere for the admiration of the girls. But even if Trajan wasn’t a pin-up in his day, we know someone who was: Hermann Goering.

That’s right, the Reichsmarshall himself, was once a glamour boy for women of the Reich to swoon over. Hitler’s Number Two was considered an ideal of German manhood, at least, he was before he gained so much weight that he looked like a bipedal walrus. And, largely forgotten today, Goering really was a hero of the First World War. He was an ace, a very good pilot and the last commander of the famed Richthofen Flying Circus. Goebbel’s propaganda machine had some actual grist for its mill with Goering, which must have surely irritated the club-footed little doctor no end, since the two men could not stand each other.

I do take exception with one piece of the article, however. National Socialism wasn’t so much a fascist regime as it was a hodge-podge of whatever kept the economy from collapsing at the moment.

Thank God he wasn’t wearing panty hose

*** Just when you thought Ebay could not do anything more stupid than they already have, along comes John Donahoe to prove you wrong. The doofus who ruined the company last year is now saying it may take another 3 or 4 years to completely destroy it. Not in so many words, mind you, but from the beginning nothing this man has said has come through, none of his changes have proved beneficial, the stock price is less than half of what it was…one can only wonder what he’s got on the board of directors that allows him to keep his job.

Ebay’s Donahoe says more stupid things to go along with all of the other stupid things he’s said

*** Here’s something you don’t see every day: Holocaust victims being pursued as terrorists. Jews in Lithuania who escaped captivity when the Nazis marched in, who then went on to fight a partisan war against the Nazis and their countrymen who helped the Nazis, are now being investigated for those actions.

In truth, Lithuania had no good choice. In 1940 they ceased to exist as a nation when the Soviet Union overran them without a fight. Stalin wasted no time in rounding up and executing thousands of Lithuanians who might oppose his rule, so is it any wonder that when the Germans came through on their anti-Bolshevik march the Lithuanians supported them as liberators?

That’s not to make excuses, merely to point out that things aren’t always as cut and dried as they seem. Anyway, this relates to books because much of the evidence against one of these so-called criminals is his memoir, The Partisan. The claim is made that members of a partisan band executed Lithuanians who aided the Germans. Seems pretty thin to me, but then again, I’m not a Lithuanian prosecutor.

Be careful what you put in your autobiography

*** For lovers of fine literature, fans of compelling thrillers and researchers of obscure history, this week brought the worst possible news: Dan Brown has written a sequel to The Da Vinci Code. That’s right, as if writing the 2nd worst book of all time wasn’t bad enough, now this hack has to slaughter a whole new generation of trees to publish more worthless nonsense. The only question for me is, after using every cliche known to the English language in his previous book, what will he do for an encore? Use the same ones again? Find cliches from other languages?

Fortunately, I won’t read this tripe and won’t care. May God have mercy on those who will.

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