Happy Tolkien Reading Day–March 25, 2019

Tokien Reading Day was established in 2003 “to encourage fans to celebrate and promote the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien by reading favourite passages. We particularly encourage schools, museums and libraries to host their own Tolkien Reading Day events.”

The 2019  Theme is Tolkien and the mysterious.

LOTR (Lord of the Rings) is probably his most famous book.  Are you a book fan, movie fan, or both?

Did you know that in the 1960s, Mad Magazine did a  Tolkien parody called “Bored of the Rings?”  It is also the name of a Harvard Lampoon parody, available from Amazon.

A biopic of the young Tokien will be in theaters on May 10, 2019.  View the Trailer

Tolkien quote

What is your favorite Tolkien book?

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Aspiration Sunday

“Before you search for inspiration outside, dig for aspiration within.”

-The Little Mermaid, MMXIX

The Little Mermaid posted this on her blog today.

In Central Virginia, today is a bright sunny day with temps that will soar from the mid 30s to the mid  60s.  Spring is steadily advancing with birds singing, flowers blooming, and tree pollen rising (along with the temps).

What do you aspire to today?  I aspire for peace and contemplation.

Cardinal Point logoI want to sip wine outside in one of my favorite wineries, Cardinal Point.  Maybe their Green wine will be ready.  Green wine  is from the Portuguese Vinho Verde  (literally ‘green wine’)  that originated in the historic Minho Province in the far north of Portugal.  It is not a St. Patrick’s day wine (white wine colored green) but is wine made from young grapes. Picked before the regular wine harvest, it provides fresh wine that is drunk soon after bottling before the other wines are available.  It’s a perfect wine to sip on while enjoying the warm Spring sunshine.

If we have no love for ourselves then we have none to give others.  At what point does self love become hedonism? Is it when the ego rear’s its head, thumbs its chest and starts proclaiming how wonderful  it is?  Or is it when our love for ourselves or our needs tramples the love or concern we have for others?  Is spending the afternoon sipping a light wine  outside in a beautiful environment aspiration or hedonistic?

The day will evolve from soaking up the sun to soaking in some peace.  Our church is initiating a new service this evening, Taize Eucharest.  “A Taizé worship service involves sung and chanted prayers, meditation, a period of silence, liturgical readings, and icons. There is no preaching.”  It is ecumenical in nature.

 

Hallelujiah! Today in History–March 23

handels messiahHandel’s Messiah was performed for the first time in London in 1743.

In the House of Burgesses in Williamsburg, Virginia Patrick Henry declared in 1775:

Patrick Henry Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death

The first Otis passenger elevator was installed in a public building in New York City byotis elevator Elisha Otis in 1857.

battle of kernstownIn 1862, near Winchester at the north end of the Shenandoah Valley, at the Battle of Kernstown VA, Confederate general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson suffered his only defeat.  He was defeated by Union forces under James Shields.

 

In 1903, the Wright brothers obtained an airplane patent.  The first flight took place in Kitty Hawk,  NC on December 17, 1903.

wright brother plane

Female spies of WW2

Women served behind the lines as well as the men. Read about these amazing female spies from WWII.

Back On The Rock

The Special Operations Executive (SOE) was set up in 1940 by the Ministry of Defence. Its purpose was simple – to conduct espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in Occupied Europe. Of necessity, it was a shadowy organisation.

But, after the War, tales emerged of the heroic deeds of those involved. And many of them were women. Here are the brief stories of two of them.

VIRGINIA HALL, the ‘Limping Spy’, was probably the most famous of the SOE women. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Hall was aged 34 at the outbreak of war. A gifted student, she followed up her US college life by continuing her studies in Europe. She became fluent in the French, Italian and German languages whilst obtaining a diploma in economics and international law.

Following a shooting accident in 1932 her left leg was amputated below the knee. Thereafter she wore a wooden leg. Thus thwarted in…

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The Great Escape–No Americans Were Actually Involved.

The Great Escape🌏😇

Very interesting, especially to those of you who have seen the movie.

untouched for almost seven decades, the tunnel used in the Great Escape has finally been unearthed. The 111-yard passage nicknamed ‘Harry’ by Allied prisoners was  sealed by the Germans after the audacious break-out from the POW camp Stalag Luft III in western Poland. Despite huge interest in the subject, encouraged by the film starring Steve McQueen, the tunnel remained undisturbed over the decades because it was behind the Iron Curtain and the Soviet authorities had no interest in its significance.

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But at last British archaeologists have excavated it, and discovered its remarkable secrets.  Many of the bed boards which had been joined together to stop it collapsing were still in position. And the ventilation shaft, ingeniously crafted from used powdered milk containers known as Klim Tins, remained in working order.

Scattered throughout the tunnel, which is 30ft below ground, were bits of old metal buckets, hammers and crowbars which were used to hollow out the route.

A total of 600 prisoners worked on three tunnels at the same time. They were nicknamed Tom, Dick and Harry and were just 2 ft square for most of their length. It was on the night of March 24 and 25, 1944, that 76 Allied airmen escaped through Harry.

Barely a third of the 200 prisoners, many in fake German uniforms and civilian outfits and carrying false identity papers, who were meant to slip away managed to leave before the alarm was raised when escapee number 77 was spotted.

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Tunnel vision: A tunnel reconstruction showing the trolley system.

Only three made it back to Britain. Another 50 were executed by firing squad on the orders of Adolf Hitler, who was furious after learning of the breach of security.   In all, 90 boards from bunk beds, 62 tables, 34 chairs and 76 benches, as well as thousands of items including knives, spoons, forks, towels and blankets, were squirreled away by the Allied prisoners to aid the escape plan under the noses of their captors.

 Although the Hollywood movie suggested otherwise, NO  Americans were involved in the operation. Most were British, and the others were from Canada, (all the tunnelers were Canadian personnel with backgrounds in mining) Poland, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa.

The site of the tunnel, recently excavated by British archaeologistsThe latest dig, over three weeks in August, located the entrance to Harry, which was originally concealed under a stove in Hut 104.

The team also found another tunnel, called George, whose exact position had not been charted. It was never used as the 2,000 prisoners were forced to march to other camps as the Red Army approached in January 1945.

Watching the excavation was Gordie King, 91, an RAF radio operator, who was 140th in line to use Harry and therefore missed out. ‘This brings back such bitter-sweet memories’, he said as he wiped away tears. ‘I’m amazed by what they’ve found.  

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Bitter-sweet  memories: Gordie King, 91, made an emotional return to Stalag Luft III.

In a related post:

Many of the recent generations have no true notion of the cost in lives and treasure that were paid for the liberties that we enjoy in this United States 

They also have no idea in respect of the lengths that the “greatest generation” went to in order to preserve those liberties. Below is one true, small and entertaining story regarding those measures that are well worth reading, even if the only thing derived from the story is entertainment.

Escape from WWII POW Camps — starting in 1940, an increasing number of British and Canadian Airmen found themselves as the involuntary guests of the Third Reich, and the Crown was casting about for ways and means to facilitate their escape.

Now obviously, one of the most helpful aids to that end is a useful and accurate map, one showing not only where stuff was, but also showing the locations of ‘safe houses’ where a POW on-the-lam could go for food and shelter.

Paper maps had some real drawbacks — they make a lot of noise when you open and fold them, they wear out rapidly, and if they get wet, they turn into mush. 

Someone in MI-5 (similar to America’s OSS) got the idea of printing escape maps on silk It’s durable, can be scrunched-up into tiny wads and, unfolded as many times as needed and, makes no noise whatsoever.

At that time, there was only one manufacturer in Great Britain that had perfected the technology of printing on silk, and that was John Waddington Ltd. When approached by the government, the firm was only too happy to do its bit for the war effort.

By pure coincidence, Waddington was also the U.K. Licensee for the popular American board game Monopoly. As it happened, ‘games and pastimes’ was a category of item qualified for insertion into ‘CARE packages’, dispatched by the International Red Cross to prisoners of war.

Under the strictest of secrecy, in a securely guarded and inaccessible old workshop on the grounds of Waddington’s, a group of sworn-to-secrecy employees began mass-producing escape maps, keyed to each region of Germany, Italy, and France or wherever Allied POW camps were located. When processed, these maps could be folded into such tiny dots that they would actually fit inside a Monopoly playing piece.

As long as they were at it, the clever workmen at Waddington’s also managed to add

1. A playing token, containing a small magnetic compass

2.  A two-part metal file that could easily be screwed together

3. Useful amounts of genuine high-denomination German, Italian, and French currency, hidden within the piles of Monopoly money!

British and American air crews were advised, before taking off on their first mission, how to identify a ‘rigged’ Monopoly set – by means of a tiny red dot, one cleverly rigged to look like an ordinary printing glitch, located in the corner of the Free Parking square.

Of the estimated 35,000 Allied POWS who successfully escaped, an estimated one-third were aided in their flight by the rigged Monopoly sets. Everyone who did so was sworn to secrecy indefinitely, since the British Government might want to use this highly successful ruse in still another, future war.

The story wasn’t declassified until 2007, when the surviving craftsmen from Waddington’s, as well as the firm itself, were finally honored in a public  ceremony

 

They Weren’t as Bad as I Thought

writing editingMy read and critique group meets the third Friday of each month.  We submit our pieces by midnight on the first Friday of each month,  One of our group leaders assembles them in a PDF document and emails them to us the following Monday or Tuesday.

Depending upon whether we are in two or three groups and how many people submit pieces, we each have four to six approximately 10-page submissions to read.  The guidelines say 10 pages per month, but people submit up to 19 pages so that an entire chapter can be included.  Most of the submissions are fiction.  A few are memoirs and occasionally someone submits poetry.

This month I submitted poetry that had been posted to this blog.  Titles included The Feral Wind, Assaulting the Beaches on Christmas Day, What Book is This,   How Fast Are You?, and a few others.   In the two weeks between submitting them and having them critiqued, I wondered why I had taken the easy way out and submitted poetry.  On a few of the poems like Feral Wind and Assaulting the Beaches on Christmas Day,  I had spent some time molding the words.  Most of the others were dashed off as quickly as I could get the words typed and the mispellings corrected. (Thank you Grammarly, even if I don’t always agree with you.)

Anything can be improved.  Removing most “the”‘s from The Feral Wind really smoothed out the flow.

Original lines

The playful breeze

Tossed birds into the air

To soar with the currents

Swoop with the downdrafts

Gliding and pirouetting

Between the cliffs of the cove and the point

Where the sea cave channeled the waves through the jutting land.

Revised lines

A playful breeze

Tossed birds into the air

To soar with  currents

Swoop with  downdrafts

Gliding and pirouetting

Between  cliffs of the cove and  point

Where the sea cave channeled the waves through  jutting land.

The other poems were critiqued because of imagery (or lack thereof like How Fast Are You which is just a word play on the number of words that end in fast like breakfast or steadfast.)  The uneven cadence in some poems like Be Leaf in Yourself were highlighted with re-write.  Everyone had a differing opinion on whether a poem had some or no meaning.

People seemed surprised and liked the variety.  No one shredded the poems with criticism.  The light hearted poems were as well received as the more lyrical or highly scripted poems.  I told them I was regretting the submission of some poems.  They asked which ones.  I said I would tell them after the poems had been critiqued.  The ones I had not wanted  to include were Be Leaf in Yourself and Valentine’s Day: Day of Love,.

Take away:  Be brave.  Let your work be judged. It is often not as bad as your inner critique would have you belive. The insights of others, may just improve your work.  It improved mine.