Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Creator: Creator: Archaeologist Heinrich Schleimann

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Creator is the archaeologist Heinrich Schleimann:

The Discovery of Troy

The Adventure Continues at Mycenae

These films are from the Michael Wood BBC’s “In Search of the Trojan War”.

 

More Comedy 

Is the world ready for more comedy? That’s what I lie awake every night wondering.  Isn’t there way too many chuckles in the world? Too many guffaws? Too many chortles?

Since I run this here blog, my vote counts. And I say that what Americans want, what Americans need is more comedy. There just isn’t enough funny in this country.

Next Wednesday Uncle Bardie’s Stories & Such brings more comedy for your enjoyment. It will be another novel, parceled out into chapters.  And it will be here for your delight. That is the way Mr. Dickens did it. If it was good enough for Dickens, it’s good enough for me.

If you are looking for history and the facts, The Absolutely Unbelievable Endearing Adventures of Lady Marye Wimpleseed-Prissypott is not for you. No, this is what I refer to as a historical frolic. The history may not be correct but it was never meant to be. If I followed the facts, none of this adventure would take place. Instead I’ve thrown in a bit of this and a bit of that with a generous smattering of that and this and the other and come up with a “stew” that might be fun to read.

 A tale in the tradition of George MacDonald Fraser and his Flashman novels, and the movies “The Perils of Pauline”, “The Great Race” and “Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines”. It is what I hope the readers will agree, jolly good fun. As far as the facts are concerned, both you and I know ghosts do not exist. At least, I haven’t met one yet. But don’t tell B. P. Nutt, Early Grey and Sir L. J. Since they are the spectres who haunt the halls of Haggismarshe Manor house, I think they would disagree most fervently.

The spirit of the tome is meant to be read on a dark and stormy night or at the beach on a warm summer day. It is a complete waste of time. Then so are many other activities we love and take part in. Who is to say that having a good laugh is time wasted? After all, such a thing has been known to cure a cancer or two. My goal for writing this frolic was not so noble. It was written simply to give the reader a good laugh.

Next Wednesday A Royal Sendoff

The Thing They Carried

It could have been the Germans. It could have been the Japanese. It could have been the Russians. But it was the Americans. The United States was the only nation with the resources to be able to create such a Thing. It was a Thing made for one job. For one purpose.

Since the Nazis launched their blitzkrieg on Poland in 1939, since the Japanese Empire attacked Pearl Harbor, war raged around the world. Millions were refugees, dead or held in concentration camps. It was time for it to be over. It would take a Thing to bring it to an end.

The question was: Would it work? The scientists said it would work. The tests had given them the assurance that it would work. But no one was absolutely sure. They would not know until those final moments over Japan. Until it was dropped.

By August, 1945, the Nazis had surrendered. But not the Empire of Japan though it was defeated. It had no air force to speak of. It was under allied blockade. Many of its greatest cities, including Tokyo, were devastated by the firebombing American B29s. Yet the military fanatics who led Japan had decided that the Empire would go down in a blaze of glory rather than submit.

The Japanese military used fifteen and sixteen-year-olds as pilots of planes that were designed to be nothing more than bombs to crash into ships. They fired human torpedoes from their submarines. This was a foreshadowing of things to come if the United States invaded the Japanese homeland. Every man, woman and child was to be a kamikaze. Even Japanese school girls were taught to attack the enemy with spears. Suicide was preferable to surrender.

Few events were as controversial as the decision to drop the Thing. It was debated among the scientists who created It. It was debated by both the civilian and the military leadership in Washington, D.C. President Truman decided the Japanese leaders had left him no choice. After discussions with his advisers, he came to believe that the Thing would shorten the war and save not just thousands of American lives but millions of Japanese as well.

The Thing’s name was Little Boy, also known as the Gadget, the Device, the Gimmick, the S-1, and the most technical of all names, It. It was created at Los Alamos in New Mexico. Then It was assembled 5500 miles from there on Tinian Island, a part of the Marianas in the Pacific. On the night of August 5, 1945, the technicians wheeled It out to a special loading pit to be lifted up into the the bay of the B29 that was to deliver It.

Hours before the mission, the crews of the 509th Composite Group waited. They did what crews do the night before an important mission. A few ate. Some lay in their bunks and thought about loved ones. Some drowned their homesickness with a few shots of whiskey. Some played poker. One, a Catholic went to confession. Another spent his time briefing the New York Times reporter assigned to the mission. The navigator checked his flight bag to make sure his navigational tools were all in order. Each found a way to while away the hours that dragged.

Practice. Practice. Practice. For months, the team had practiced dropping The Thing, then make a 155 degree turn to get the hell out of there. Now there was a different kind of practice. Just in case of a crash upon take-off, the weaponeer decided to load and arm the Thing once the plane was in the air. In the hours before the takeoff, he practiced inserting the explosive charge and the detonator into the Thing. Difficult work to do considering how tight, how hot, how poorly lit the bay of the B29 that was to carry It. When offered a pair of gloves, the weaponeer said no. “I’ve got to feel the touch.”

At midnight, the commander of the mission gave a final briefing. He was the pilot of the B29 that would deliver the Thing to its destination. He finished with a word of advice for the twenty-six airmen in the room. “Do your jobs, obey orders, don’t cut corners.” Then the crew had breakfast while the flight engineer went out to the plane for his preflight check.

Early in the morning of Monday, August 6, 1945, the rest of the crew—the pilot, the co-pilot, the navigator, the electronic countermeasure man, the two radar operators, the bombardier, the tail gunner, and the ordinance expert—climbed aboard the plane, joining the weaponeer and the flight engineer. Painted on the nose of the B29 was the name of the pilot’s mother, Enola Gay.

2:27 a.m. Front engine No. 3, then No. 4, then No. 1, then No. 2.

“Okay to taxi,” the tower said.

2:35 a.m. In position to taxi.

Clear to take off.

A final check.

Take-off weight: 150,000 lbs., 7000 gal. of fuel, 12 men on board, and a five-ton Thing in the plane’s belly. The Enola Gay was eight tons over its normal weight.

“Let’s go.”

All throttles were pushed forward. Down the 8500 foot runway, the plane went past the ambulances and the fire trucks every fifty feet on each side. At the last minute, the B29 lifted into the air and was off the island and heading north by northwest toward Iwo Jima. It would be over the Japanese homeland 1500 miles away in a little less than six hours.

The tail gunner tested his gun, using 50 of the 1000 rounds he had.

The radar operators studied the radar pictures of Hiroshima.

“Judge going to work.” The weaponeer began to load The Thing. He inserted the gun powder and the detonator. He tightened the breach plate. It took him thirty minutes to complete his task.

The pilot did a check with the two planes following and got a “conditions normal”. So far nothing out of the ordinary. He turned the plane over to his co-pilot and went off to chat with the rest of the crew.

The pilot palavered with his crew for a few minutes, answering any questions they might have, trying to ease any tension there might be. The crew gave him a thumbs up that everything was a-okay. The pilot returned to the cockpit. He took the plane up to 9000 feet for a rendezvous in the pale, pink sky above Iwo Jima. A camera plane and an instrument plane joined up with the Enola Gay.

“Proceeding as planned,” the pilot radioed Iwo Jima downstairs.

“Good luck.”

The three planes formed into a V, the Enola Gay leading the way. Now it was on to what was left of the Japanese Empire.

The ordinance expert armed the charge. He was the last person to touch The Thing. Then he checked the circuits of The Thing on his monitor.

The pilot announced to the crew, “You are carrying the world’s first atomic bomb.”

The Enola Gay climbed to an altitude of 30,800 feet.

“Bomb primary,” came the message from the weather plane ahead. The pilot announced, “It’s Hiroshima.”

All lights on The Thing remained green. It was ready to do its job.

Course change to a heading of 264 degrees.

“Initial Point.”

Hiroshima’s morning sky was bright and clear. Perfect weather.

Below soldiers did their calisthenics.

Below a doctor was administering a shot.

Below a sixteen year old girl drove a tram.

Below two women arrived at the bank where they worked.

The pilot knew the city like the back of his hand from studying maps, photographs and radar pictures. He headed straight to the Aiming Point.

From below: “Top alert.”

“On goggles,” the pilot directed his crew to put on their goggles to shelter their eyes from the blast of The Thing they were about to drop. Only the pilot, the bombardier and the electronic countermeasures man did not slip their eyewear over their eyes. They needed their naked eyes to do their jobs.

Hiroshima in the bombardier’s viewfinder.

The plane began its three-and-a-half minute run.

The pilot: “Stand by.”

Below a nurse sterilized hospital tools.

Below a group of boys played hide-and-go-seek.

Below a woman had breakfast with her two children and her husband. He read the “Chugoku Shimbun” daily newspaper.

One of the women in the bank wiped a desk top. A soldier removed his shirt.

The Aiming Point of the T-shaped Aioi Bridge came into the bombardier’s cross hairs. “I’ve got it.”

Fifteen seconds.

The doctor looked up and saw the Enola Gay. Just one plane. Nothing to worry about.

8:15:17 a.m. Enola Gay’s bay doors opened. The Thing dropped from its restraining hook. Freed of the five tons, the B29 lurched upward. The pilot swung the plane into a 155 degree right turn and a steep power dive. The bay doors shut.

The Thing wobbled, then picked up speed.

Below Field Marshall Hata dressed for a meeting.

Korean Prince RiGu cantered his horse on the Aioi Bridge

Radio Hiroshima broadcast an air raid warning. Thousands of workers stopped what they were doing and hurried toward the “safe areas”.

The Enola Gay now five miles from the Aiming Point and heading out of the city.

Five seconds to go.

At 1890 feet above the city of Hiroshima, the Thing detonated, untold quantities of energy released in a blast. A white light, a flash, a fireball fifty million degrees centigrade at its center. The fireball expanded to 300 meters wide.

There was a new sun in the sky. A sudden and throbbing roar, then total darkness, then red, yellow, orange, green burbled up from the city below, then grayish, brownish, black smoke. Looking down at it all, the tail gunner said that it was “a peep into hell.”

That morning in 1945, the people below in the city were no longer Japanese. They were human beings.

Sources
Books

Hersey, J. (1989). Hiroshima. New York, NY: Vintage Books.

Smith, J. M. (2010). Fire in the sky: The story of the atomic bomb. Place of publication not identified: Textstream.

Thomas, G., & Witts, M. M. (1995). Enola Gay – Mission to Hiroshima. Loughborough, England.: White Owl Press.

Films

Hiroshima (BBC History of World War II) [Motion picture on DVD]. (2009). BBC Home Entertainment.

Joffé, R. (Director). (1989). Fat man and little boy [Motion picture on DVD]. United States: Paramount Pictures.

Modern Marvels – The Manhattan Project (History Channel) [Motion picture on DVD]. (2005). A&E Home Video.

 

 

The Rediscovery of Sex

I was watching an old 1930s movie recently. A couple got married. They never had a honeymoon. The husband carried his blushing bride over the threshold, dropped her in the living room, then went off to work. The wife went shopping.

In the one scene in the bedroom, there were twin beds. Both husband and wife wore pajamas. They gave each other a good night smooch, then each crawled into their twin bed and went off to zzzz-land. No time in the movie did the couple even hint at the s-word.

Since movies are a very good reflection of real life, none of the thirties romances had sexual activity. If couples were having sex, they kept it on the q.t. Guess that was why it was called the Great Depression.

It got me thinking. How did they avoid sex? I mean, these days sex is everywhere. It’s on magazine covers. It’s in the ads. It’s in the movies. It’s on tv. It’s in the music. It’s even on the evening news. We can’t seem to get enough of it. So just how did our forefolks avoid sex? Why would they want to anyway? Why did it take a World War to bring back sex?

Big questions. Recently Uncle Bardie came across an ancient tome called  “The Real Kinsey Report” that explained much that has been hidden from history. Lord Byron was one of the last two people in England in the Nineteenth Century to enjoy a ménage à duet, his female partner à duet being the other people. As the famed Lord was making a strategic withdrawal, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were engaged in hanky panky on the HMS Queen Mary. The thing is there was more hanky than panky.

Vickie and Bertie were off on their honeymoon. Of course, you do know that the origin of the word “honeymoon” was Anglo Saxon for “tiddlywinks”.  As soon as Bertie showed his blushing bride his tiddly and she showed him her winkie, they both realized this would never do. She said, “Ewwww.” And she meant it. He said, “Yech.” And he meant it. That was the end of sex as our forefathers and foremothers knew it. The end of foreplay. And afterplay too.

They returned to Buckingham Palace and declared that there was to be no more sex in the land. To make sure that their command was obeyed, they proclaimed a proclamation and they decreed a decree. Every female over the age of twelve not only had to wear a girdle. She had to wear a corset, even when she went to bed. Especially when she went to bed.

Unlike Prohibition, the new regime of non-coitus dilecti was widely popular. The Germans loved it. The Russians loved it. The Chinese loved it. The Greeks loved it. The Americans loved it. The Italians, not so much. Only the French resisted. And the Canadians who were half French anyway. The Canadians just shook their heads and thought, “Are they crazy? How are we to keep warm, eh?”

Late in the century, the French came around. We all know the details. It was the Albert Dufus Affair. Seems that A D was messing around with the Can-Can. Needless to say, it was uncanny how candid the Can-Can can.

The Can-adians never came around. Oh, sure. They too had a coitus interruptus with the Yukon Gold Rush. It was a brief run. Why have all that gold and not have anything to spend it on? So it was soon back to the business of coitus-ing all over the place. Like they say, nobody can the way a Can-adian can-can. Canada, what a country.

Since men and women didn’t make whoopee during the Great Sex Out, they didn’t need to smell good either. So no one took a bath.

Talk about Weather Changes and Global Warming. For almost one hundred years, Earth was bathed in a certain smell. Scientists blamed it on the Industrial Revolution. The truth is it came from the lack of bathing. The smell almost destroyed the ozone layer. The planet was carbon dioxiding all over the place.

For ten years after the Anti-Fornication Act of 1840, there were no babies born. “Why no babies?” the Victorians queried. Everybody liked babies. Oh, sure. There was the poop. Good thing the babies outgrew that. Not the pooping. Changing the diapers they pooped in.

The Victorians did not equate pregnancy with sex. They believed babies were delivered by storks. But there wasn’t a shortage of storks. So. Why no bambinos? It just wasn’t natural. Before they could say, “We’re really screwed,” a solution appeared on the horizon. It came from a most unusual source.

The North Pole. And it was not Santa Claus who presented a solution. Everybody presumed it was Dr. Livingston. But Dr. Livingston was deep in the heart of Africa presuming.

It seems that the Sir Rutherford Rutherford Expedition returned from its Arctic exploration with an amazing artifact. You’ve heard of the iPod. The Eskimos had their own version. An ePod.

A what? Yes, you heard me right. I said an Eskimo Pod, known as an ePod. Eskimos were born from ePods and it had been going on for centuries.

When ePods were first introduced to the rest of the planet, people were very skeptical. Some even afraid. Here is some footage taken at one of the first Royal Society meetings:

Soon the Victorians calmed down and realized this was the answer to a prayer. No sex and beaucoup babies. Before you knew it, most families were raising a crop of ePods in their backyards.

There were those who resisted like Abraham Lincoln. “Fourscore and seven years ago” was not about the Declaration of Independence. Abe was talking about the wild sexcapades our forefolks had back in the Olden Days. The Boston Tea Party was a protest, not over a tax on tea, but a tax on condoms.

I bet you thought Manifest Destiny was about increasing the size of the United States westward. It was not. It was about spreading the ePod Gospel. Custer and his Cavalry were taking a wagonload of pods into Indian country. Sitting Bull had seen the future and he wanted none of it. It was every Indian’s right to have babies the organic way. None of that genetically modified babies for the Sioux.

Despite the resistance, the ePods became the way children came into this world by the beginning of the twentieth century. Oh sure, there were rebels without a cause like D. H. Lawrence and his Lady Chatterley. FDR was rumored to have said to Eleanor on their first night as a married couple, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

This was the way of things until World War II. The War destroyed most of the ePods. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, they wiped out the ePod Supply of the entire United States. FDR wasn’t kidding when he spoke before Congress and said, “This is a Day that will live in Infamy.” He really meant it. By the end of the war, the Atom Bomb radiated the few ePods left.

For the next few years, the world was in despair. What to do? What to do? The Korean War was fought because the Allies believed the North Koreans were hoarding ePods. They weren’t. So the Allies lost interest and declared a Truce.

No one seemed to know what to do. Then Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr parted the waters.

Burt and Debbie showed us the way. Sex was back. And this time it was here to stay.

At least, till another ePod outbreak.

The Poker Game of 1776

July 3, 1776. A tavern across the street from Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

John Adams couldn’t bluff at poker if his life depended on it. Thomas Jefferson knew it. Benjamin Franklin knew it. Old Stone Face, George Washington, sitting across from Adams, knew it.

Ben and Tom folded. Neither of them had any kind of hand to play. But Adams was staying. He didn’t believe Stone Face had a winning hand.

“I call you,” Stone Facesaid to Adams across the table.

John Adams, a big smile on his face, threw down three aces.  Stone Face threw down his full house, then reached over and pulled the wad of English pound notes toward him.

Adams’ face dropped into a frown. Lost again. Here he was doing the very thing Abby warned him against. Playing poker with Stone Face. Washington always won. Over the course of the last two months, he had just about wiped out all the delegates of the Continental Congress of their cash. But he had done it for a good cause. He needed a new set of false teeth.

Adams said, “I give up. I’m broke. So what are we going to do about John Hancock?”

“We should shoot the son of a bitch,” Stone Face offered. Washington seldom lost his cool but John Hancock had gotten under his skin in a way that British General Howe never did.

Jefferson followed up with, “That’s what we’d do in Virginia.”

“Now, boys,” Ben interjected, “let’s be serious. But not that serious.”

Washington said, “I can’t believe I came back to have to deal with this. My guys at Valley Forge are going to mutiny if we don’t get this settled once and for all.”

“Why don’t we just get him drunk?” Franklin suggested.

Jefferson said,” That is your answer for everything.”

“Just about,” Franklin answered. “How you think I survived that thing with the kite? Remember the old saying, ‘Three strikes you’re out.’ When that lightning bolt hit the kite, I was as drunk as Gulliver must’ve been the day he saw those Lilliputians. The lightning struck me three times, and yet, here I am.”

John Adams knew Hancock too well for that. “He’ll just fall asleep.”

Jefferson was miffed. “All I know is that I am not letting him put those words into the Declaration of Independence.”

Stone Face put in his two pences. “I agree with Tom. I mean, Hancock and his ‘when in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to kick King George’s butt because he is, and ever shall be, a pantywaist’ is a little too much. Even for this Congress. We all don’t like the king but that is a little too much. The British will never take us seriously.”

“Totally destroys the mood,” Jefferson added, “don’t you think?”

The Virginia delegation was unanimous about its approbation against John Hancock. Either the Continental Congress gave Hancock his walking papers or they would be walking. But everybody knew what would happen if Hancock went home. The whole New England bunch would leave with him.

From the beginning, Hancock had been cause for alarm. First he wore that pink outfit. Oh, my gosh. And the chicken costume. It looked like he was trying to out-Elton-John Lady Gaga. Then his proposal that the country use “We are the champions of the world” for its national anthem. It had taken months for John Adams to get his friend to calm down and be reasonable. Now this.

Ben had an idea. “Bet Betsy Ross could get him to go along with the program.”

“You know what she’s going to charge?” John Adams inquired.

Stone Face, always a pragmatic man, said, “Yes, but she does get results.”

“Ben,” Adams asked, “have you been able to get her price down? Last I heard she was charging an arm and a leg.”

Jefferson said, “Yeah, just look at Long John Silver.”

“On this one,” Ben said, “she knows she has us over a barrel. She wants the flag concession.”

“Can she get the job done?” Tom asked.

“I believe so,” Franklin said. “She has a long history with Hancock. Something about babysitting with his kids when they were just knee-high-to-a-grasshopper.”

Stone Face was satisfied. “I say we give it to her.”

Jefferson and Adams nodded their heads in agreement. But Franklin was not finished. “In perpetuity.”

“What?” the other three said as a chorus.

“No way are we going to go along with that,” Stone Face said. “John, can’t Abby help in this department?”

“When Hancock puts his mind to a thing,” Adams said, “he puts his mind to a thing. I’m afraid Betsy is our only option. If we want Hancock, we are going to have to give in to her demands.”

“Then,” Stone Face finalized the discussion, “Betsy gets the flag concession in perpetuity. But you tell her that I want a free ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ for each of my Regiments, and according to my specifications.”

John Adams breathed a sigh of relief. He was going to get his revolution, after all. The other three had given him a big thumbs up with their agreement on the Hancock Matter. “So, Tom, looks like you’ll be able to do a press release.”

Jefferson took out his pen and pad and began to write. Then he looked up at the others. “I just realized we have another problem.”

“”What now?” Stone Face was just about fed up with all the back-and-forth going on at the Congress. Why didn’t folks just do what they were told? It would be so much easier.

Jefferson thought so too but he didn’t say anything out loud. “It’s Tom Paine. He’s going to insist on editing my text and publishing it the way he wants.”

Adams was now in the fray. He didn’t like Paine. “Please. No more ‘These are the times that try men’s souls’ crap. God, that man has an ego.”

“Yeah,” Ben agreed. “He gets a fifth down him, and there is no telling what he will write.”

Stone Face had an answer. “We could just draft him. I need a good secretary and he does take shorthand.”

The others smiled. Stone Face once again came to the rescue. Guess that was why folks were calling him “The Father of the Country”.

“Glad we’ve got all that settled,” Stone Face said. “Now I have to go and kick some British hineys.”

“Don’t forget,” Adams requested, “to take a piece out of Cornwallis for me.”

The four men gathered up their things and made for the door, then John Adams said, “I just remembered. Just one more thing.”

“No,” the other three said.

“’Fraid so. It’s Paul Revere. Every time we get ready to attack the British from behind some trees, guerilla style, Paul shows up on his horse. He lets the Brits know where we are by yelling, ‘The Americans are coming. The Americans are coming.’”