I read Slaughter House 5 a long time ago when I was working out in Germany. In the days before ipod/phones I used to read on the tram and bus journeys to work. The book is semi-autobiographical and easy to read in terms of style, but harder to inwardly digest. The author, Kurt Vonnegut goes up in my estimation the more I find out about him. I posted a blog entry on him previously after seeing a clip of a lecture he gave on “Story Styles”.
Since then I have discovered and read two letters written at different stages of his life. One letter he typed to his family at the end of WWII and the other was sent to some high school students almost 40 years later in 2006.
Vonnegut enlisted in the US Army in 1943 and by the following year he was fighting in the Ardennes. It was here that he became a POW during the Battle of the Bulge. By 1945 he was in Germany, in Dresden to be precise.
This is the city where his book Slaughter House 5 is set. Dresden. is a place that I have been to; it is a very beautiful city with an Old Town that has half timbered houses. It has some wonderful architecture with palaces, churches and a very famous opera house. Visit Dresden today and you will see very little evidence that it was a scene of mass death and destruction towards the end of the War in Europe.
The city was the target of heavy bombing by the RAF which resulted in a huge firestorm. Vonnegut was there to see the city burn on Valentine’s Day 1945 that many of its victims simply suffocated to death. The reason for this was that the fire was so intense that its flames consumed all the available oxygen in the combustion process.
Nobody knows how many people died but it is estimated to be hundreds of thousands as the city was full of people fleeing the oncoming Red Army. When you hear about the journey that took him to Dresden it is amazing that he even got to see it all take place. Just see what he wrote here:
The things that he must have experienced, one cannot begin to imagine. It was a shocking and disturbing thing to see first hand but he dealt with it and enjoyed successful writing career.
Towards the end of his life Vonnegut was invited to come and visit their class by some New York high school students. He politely declined the invitation by sending this letter to the school. It just illustrates what an absolute diamond the man was.
The video made about this story can be seen by clicking the picture below
Some people just do things right. Kurt Vonnegut is one such man.
I have drafted a few posts about Rap artists and have decided to dust them down and get them out there.
Let me get this straight before I start I am a fan of all genres of music and I think that Rap music has its worth. I prescribe to the idea that all true and pure record collections should have no Beatles albums in them at all and must contain Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. After that there is certainly space for hip-hop and rap music.
The first Rap artist I want to talk about is Snoop Dogg. He gets a bad press at times, which is to be expected when one considers some of the things he has done. He got a bit of a ticking off by Jay-Z this week, probably due to Mr Dogg sending a cake and some strippers to R&B singer Tyrese for his 36th Birthday.
The Guardian is a bit more complimentary about him, where they grudgingly admire his resourcefulness in making tv adverts for car insurance.
Rolling Stone described Snoop Dogg as “everyone’s favorite pimp”. I would not go that far, but he is a likeable rogue who is able to laugh at himself as well as those he is taking money from.
Loving his work with my other favourite joker Bootsy Collins.
The World needs people like Snoop Dogg and for that reason I salute him.
You get some right tight-fisted people out there. Here is an example of how mean spirited people can be.
I have started to have a bit of a clear out. Not in the biological sense I may hasten to add, but a bit of a Spring clean of the shed and attic. Hence I have set up the following advert on e-bay:
Wheelset no longer needed after upgrade on a town/hybrid bike.
They still run ok and have not got many miles on the clock, but have the wear and tear from the potholes and bumps on today’s roads.
Good enough to have been kept as spares they are going out after a Spring clean the shed. They are too good to be binned, but too bulky to be kept as spares, as I am becoming a fair weather cyclist and now also have another bike.
NOTE – I AM OFFERING THESE FOR A CHARITY 100% SALE.
Rims: ETRTO 622×20 6061-T6 700c
Cassette: Shimano MF-TZ31 14-34T SUPER-LOW MegaRange
Hubs: Standard issue GIANT with Quick Release Skewers
Please note that these are collection only.
Now the bidding has been set to start at 1 pence and there is a big banner showing the charity logo for Red Nose Day saying that 100% of the proceeds of the sale go to the Red Nose Day appeal, yet one person out of the 11 people that have viewed these wheels so far has put it on their Watch list!
Whaaaaat? There is some tightwad out there somewhere who is waiting to jump in last minute and get a penny bargain? Listen up whoever you may be. They are a cheap pair of wheels and a good deal if you can get them for a few of quid, even if you just salvage them for spares. However that is not the point. Get into the spirit of the auction will you please!
Bootsy Collins is a crazy cat. The sort of bloke you would not sit next to on the tube unless you had to. Well he does dress terribly loud.
He appears here on a classic BBC2 series from the 1980’s called Rock School – the programmes sought to give musicians an insight on the technicalities of playing certain instruments with certain styles, be it Rock guitar, Reggae drums or in Bootsy’s case – Funk bass guitar.
He makes it look so simple!
It is just all about being on the “ONE”!
Now where am I heading on this post then? Well there are two things that stand out about Bootsy.
Firstly he has lived a life and seen the World, for instance you see him happily playing bass lines for the Great James Brown in a televised show in Italy. Notice the crowd clearly do not know what to make of the Godfather of Soul here as he struts on stage. Nevertheless Bootsy seems to be enjoying himself in the background.
Now that was years ago – but Bootsy keeps busy giving talks on his musical past and also helps to encourage and support young musicians with his own University of Funk. The next clip has Bootsy telling a story in one of his seminars about the relationship he had with James Brown.
So I say “Good on you Bootsy!” for giving it back.
And listening to Bootsy speak reminds me of, the second thing…….
PETER CROUCH – Mr “You know….” immediately to mind when you hear Bootsy speak. You know you end up counting them, you know, during any interview that Crouch gives on TV.
Only in America………..
Kurt Vonnegut Jnr was inducted as the first member of this exclusive club. Really he is not weird, just a very clever bloke on a singular wavelength.
Now we are faced with a decision as to what constitutes ‘weird’ and who should be the sane judge who points the accusing finger at the social outcast and hence concludes as to what constitutes as the correct character traits required to gain membership of this club.
Well Steve Meyer has no need to be put on any waiting list.
Follow the link by clicking on the Picture
Weird people is maybe not the right title, but read on and you will catch the drift.
Weird people – the sort that do not conform, individuals that do not wear a label that you can read, in order to pop them in a pigeon hole. . I am talking about what we in England call “eccentrics”. These are the individuals who stand out in a crowd, not for their loud dress sense, but more for the way that they are wired up internally. They are “characters” and are often looked at with affection by the general population, but normally at arm’s length, because let us face facts – these people are still weird after all.
I think I have the makings of a list here and another series of posts.
Kurt Vonnegut is going to be put forward as my first example of a weird kind of guy. You only have to read Slaughterhouse 5 to know what I mean. When I was asked by some what the book was about all I could do was say that it was a semi-autobiographical novel about a soldier in WWII, but it was very weird. Not exactly a review fit for the TLS, but I am more interested in the author and not his work.
His wit and humour come through in this video of him speaking on stage about the formulae used in writing stories.
This video came from stumbling upon a wonderful blog at www.kottke.org. This site is something that I can only admire and aspire to.
Bikes are a passion of mine. Cannot help falling in love with them. However I am no technical wizard when it comes down to bike mechanics. So my latest affair with a Raleigh Massif Mk I has been a long and drawn out one.
Another legend was a bloke called Sheldon Brown
He is no longer with us but without his guidance I would be lost and out of love. His knowledge remains for all to read on his fantastic website http://sheldonbrown.com
Raleighs used to be the IBMs of their age. They are about as hard to work with as using a stone axe to wire up a satellite dish. The modern kit just does not fit on them. So I find myself looking at wierd chat rooms to find out how to replace the bike’s steering mechanism and also turning to good old Sheldon for pearls of wisdom on how to fit 12omm hubs into a 4 1/2 inch gap.
But I refuse to get obsessive – unlike this bloke – Click and see HERE