April 11, 2014

Tanks, cars, and books

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:27 pm


Napoleon learned the hard way that waging war during winter in Russia is a brutal ordeal.  Hitler disregarded his military advisors advice and dawdled for a few weeks before implementing their strategy.  The postponement caused the German army to relearn Napoleon’s military lesson that was readily available in the history books.

American news reporters and political pundits apparently aren’t aware that Vladimir Putin would be much more versed in Russian history than they are and led their audiences to think that after the winter games were concluded the Russian leader would immediately make a military move in the Ukraine.  The American journalists’ eager anticipation of doing voiceovers for dramatic video of new hostilities in that region is getting bogged down in the spring thaw mud.

If the newsies would read up on military history they could sound authoritative and knowledgeable if they advised their audience to expect any military movement in late spring or very early summer.  Televised news thrives on expediency and so they disregard practical considerations and emphasis that Putin could send troops into the Ukraine any minute rather than taking the spring thaw into account.

[For a different perspective on Putin try reading Christian Neef’s commentary “It’s time to stop romanticizing Russian” in the English language section of Der Spiegel’s web site.]

Some folks think that a guy who was community organizer will not be pushed around by a former KGB agent who was born in Leningrad.  This columnist is prepared to bet otherwise.

While we are waiting for the news readers’ time schedule for life-and-death drama to unfold on dry ground, we seized an opportunity to see the exhibition of French Impressionist paintings at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco while simultaneously reading Christopher Moore’s speculative fiction novel “Sacré Bleu” about the same group of famous artists.

The San Francisco show may lure some French Impressionist enthusiasts from “shakey town” up to the Bay area just to see that particular exhibition and we don’t think they will be disappointed by the effort.  It is closer and cheaper than a trip to Paris, eh?

Since Christopher Moore is publicizing his newest book, “Serpent of Venice,” and he is coming to the Bay area to do a book signing event at 7 p.m., at Books Inc. on April 22 later this month, we sent him a suggestion that he might like to see the show at the Legion of Honor and we are attempting to perhaps interview him while he is in Frisco, so that we can get some exclusive information which will give us another chance to plug his newest novel again in a future column.

While sensation seeking journalists eagerly anticipate Putin’s next move, for columnists, April is a smorgasbord of topics.  The Titanic, the century old run-up to WWI, the similarity of events in the late Thirties to the show down in the Ukraine, and yet another chance to write about National Columnists’ Day (April 18) and see if we can enlist the aid once again of Jim Romenesko, who runs an “inside baseball” website for journalists, to help us in our annual effort to raise awareness of the date which marks the day when famed columnist Ernie Pyle was killed in action during WWII.

Meanwhile car enthusiasts are busy preparing to celebrate the Ford Mustang’s 50th birthday.

Since coast to coast journeys always get our attention, we will plug the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s Beer Camp effort to promote a celebration of hand crafted beer even though we haven’t had a brew in several decades.  Do they need a designated driver/columnist?

Willie Nelson is famous for playing musical gigs at American Honkey Tonk bars and since he will be playing two shows at UCB’s Greek Theater this weekend, we will henceforth be tempted to think of the local world famous learning establishment as being “Honky Tonk U.”

The Ambush Review is holding a poetry reading at the Beat Museum in San Francisco on the night when this column will be posted and so we may feel obligated to cover the event in the hopes that it will become a milestone in literary history similar to another one  that happened in that same city many years ago.

This month we intend to do some fact checking on the pop culture beat to learn more about “the Spleen” from the Mystery Men.  It seems the fellow’s super abilities are unleashed when he gets a positive response to his signature challenge:  “Pull my finger!”

NBC has caused a sensation this week by starting a search for new sit-com talent by issuing an opportunity to make an online pitch.  (Google hint:  NBCComedyPlayground dot com)

War usually gets such bad publicity that we were very glad to see that the premise for the new book “The Love-charm of Bombs,” by Lara Feigel is that the Battle of Britain provided an exciting and romantic backdrop for Great Britain’s social elite to have extra-marital love affairs.  Wasn’t it called the “live life to the hilt” approach to contending with impending doom?

If American news media stations assign some correspondents to go to Perth to monitor the MH 370 search efforts, does that mean that they will, during the wait, be expected to start filing feature stories about the charms and tourist attractions available in the W. A.?  The million square mile state known as Western Australia is called “the W. A.” by locals.

Maybe some of the visiting journalists will note that a large number of local vehicles feature snorkels and that indicates a high likelihood for some freelance assignments from America’s 4wd publications?  What journalist doesn’t love the prospect of some extra loot via a bit of freelancing done on the side?

Speaking of “appropriate setting,” Kalgoorlie is the perfect place for an American to hear Bobby Bare’s “Five Hundred Miles” song.

Fans of the film “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” might want to read about the Prospectors’ Hall of Fame which is located in (relatively speaking) nearby Kalgoorlie.

[Note from the columnist:  We have been posting a column almost every week for 15 years but due to some temperamental vintage computer equipment, we might be forced to go AWAL one of these weeks.  We’ll start taking preventative measures, but there are no guarantees in life, eh?]

[Note from the photo editor:  We illustrated the 50th birthday for the Ford Mustang by running a file photo taken a few years back at the Los Angeles Shelby American Auto Club’s annual car show.]

In “hip: the history,” by John Leland, readers are informed that George W. S. Trow wrote:  “To wear a fedora, I must first torture it out of shape so that it can be cleaned of the embarrassment in it.”

The disk jockey will play Wilson’ Pickett’s “Mustang Sally,” the theme music from “Un Homme et une Femme,” and Marianne Faithful’s “Ballad of Lucy Jordan.”  We have to go inquire about how to get a press pass to cover this year’s Le Mans 24 hour race.  Have a “why do we do this, Buzz?,” type week.

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