Thursday, November 24, 2016

Biographical Documentary: Natalie Wood: Too Young to Die

This documentary was a look at the life of Natalie Wood.  It mentioned the controversy surrounding her death, but did not dwell on this, rather focused on her life.  Wood was an actress who was able to go from child star, to adult super star.  This does not happen very often.
She was born of Russian immigrants, Natasha Zakharenko,, and Natalie Wood was her stage name.  She would later name her daughter Natasha.  As a child star, she portrayed the girl who doubts Santa Clause in the "Miracle on 34th Street."  She was often cast as a daughter in films, and was in more than 20 films as a child.  Her mother also promoted her, and taught her how to get rolls by endearing herself to directors or actors.  The documentary shows several excerpts of a childhood friend, who always stayed close to Wood.  His insights were very good, and told how entering the movie business meant several changes she Wood did not necessarily like, name change, residence change etc.  She grew up on studio food and schooling.
Wood's life had some tragedy.  She was raped at age 16 by someone posing as a producer.
However making the transition to adult films required some manipulation.  She was in a car accident, and got a policeman to call her a juvenile delinquent.  Through this she was cast in the teen film "Rebel Without a Cause" with James Dean.  In this roll she won an academy award for best supporting actress.  This was here coming of age movie.
Wood would continue to have problems with relationships.  It was rumored she had relations with directors.  She married Robert Wagner.  And divorced him when she discovered him in bed with another man.  There was a time she only felt she could talk to her analyst.  She even turned down roles which would take her away.
She then married producer Richard Gregson and had her first daughter.  She married when she overheard an inappropriate conversation he had with his secretary.
She would remarry Robert Wagner and they also had a daughter together.  The remained together until her death in 1981.  She drowned.  From a young age Wood had a fear of water, and did not swim.  Somehow she fell from their boat off Catalina Island.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Book Review: Picasso: Museo Picasso de Barcelona

Picasso: Museo Picasso de Barcelona, text by Xavier Costa Clavell, photographic reproductions by Editorial Escudo de Oro, Editorial Escudo de Oro, seventh edition.  This book, written in Spanish, portrays artwork as well as the history of Pablo Picasso.  Born in 1881, in Malaga, Spain, Picasso was drawing and painting before 1890.  Most of his early work was drawings.  However his work was always very advanced.  He had an eye for seeing things clearly.  While he was approaching finals in 1894, his younger sister passed away.  This may have contributed to his entering a blue period of painting.  Much of his work began as sketches, before becoming paintings.  He was in full swing in the blue period by 1901.  From there he moved to a pink period.  In 1906 his style of painting changed again.  This change had French influences.  He began trying to paint more than just a physical representation of things, but began to add interpretation to his painting.  From this he eventually entered into Cubism.  Picasso, also entered an era of pottery and then finally sculpture.
The life of Picasso was influenced by war, and he in fact for a time joined the communist party.  However he was patriotic to country.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Book Review: Native American Chiefs and Warriors

Native American Chiefs and Warriors: History Makers by Stuart A Kallen, Lucent Books, San Diego, CA, 1999.
This book tells Native American history from a Native American view point.  In particular it first gives a general overview, with the theme that Native Americans were only protecting their land from encroaching Whites, which is what happened.
This book particularly talks about several chiefs.  First King Phillip.  King Phillip lead King Phillip's War after his father passed away.  There came a point where he couldn't take the encroachment, and poor treatment of the Pilgrims any longer.  They achieved initial success, but eventually they were overwhelmed, and King Phillip killed and his family sold into slavery.
Chief Pontiac was of the Ottawa Tribe, who were known for their trading, especially with the French.  They were active participants int he French and Indian War, and the loss of the French was especially hard.  When the French refused to support the continued conflict Pontiac and his warriors were sunk.  Pontiac was befriended by the English, and this did him in amongst his people.  He was murdered, and there was no one to avenge his death.
Geronimo was the famous Apache warrior, who kept breaking loss from the reservation and continuing his warring.  He first warred the Spanish, then the Mexicans and finally the Americans.
Crazy Horse was the famous Sioux Chief, who followed his dream telling him to know wear a head dress in to battle, nor paint his horse, nor take spoils.  He lead his people to victory at Little Big Horn but was killed being taken into captivity.
Wilma Mankiller was the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation.  She grew up in the San Francisco area during the protest era.  She and her family returned to the reservation after the death of her father.  She met with presidents, and was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Chapter Review: Who is Tokyo Rose

Taken from Miracles and Massacres: True and Untold Stories of the Making of America, by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe and Hannah Beck, Theshold Editions, New York, 2013.

The interesting thing I learned from this chapter is that Tokyo Rose was not just one person, but five or six women who announced on Radio Tokyo.  The Japanese goal was to discourage the U.S. soldiers; and in some respects this was accomplished.  However there were those on the radio, who hoped their program on the radio would have the opposite effect.  They would tell inside jokes, and talk quickly so the news could not be understood.  A team of POW's was n the radio and recruited Iva Toguri to join them on the radio.  She too wanted to use the radio to promote the Allied was effort rather than discourage.  Iva was Japanese American, born in Los Angeles.  She would not renounce her U.S. citizenship when she became trapped in Japan when the war started.
When the war was over, two reporters searched out Iva as they were looking for Tokyo Rose.  Iva had never heard of Tokyo Rose, but when is was explained to her that it was the name given to all the Japanese women radio broadcaster by the U.S. soldiers, she took credit for being Tokyo Rose.
As a result she was arrested and imprisoned.  However she was eventually released for lack of evidence.  She returned to the United States.
Thomas DeWolfe was a prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney's office.  He had reviewed the case, and new there was no case.  However public outcry was persistent.  This included political pressure.  He was ordered to prosecute, and so Iva found herself in court.  Charles Cousens, one of the two radio broadcaster testified and verified Iva's story.  She had no intent to harm the war effort but just the opposite.  However she was found guilty.
She served six years in prison, and was almost deported.  She did lose her citizenship.  Her husband was deported, and their marriage was ruined.  She had been pardoned by President Gerald Ford in 1977, and her citizenship restored.  Some members of the jury later regretted that they had been persuaded to go with the majority.  Thomas DeWolfe took his own life three years after the verdict.
Iva Toguri

Chapter Review: The My Lai Massacre: A Light in the Darkness

Taken from Miracles and Massacres: True and Untold Stories of the Making of America, by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe and Hannah Beck, Theshold Editions, New York, 2013.

This is a very sad day in U.S. military history.  True it was that the orders were to wipe out everyone in the village of My Lai because they were believed to be harboring The Viet Cong Forty Eighth , which would attack, and then melt into the jungle.  Someone must be helping them.  However, in this case intelligence was faulty.  When Charlie Company attacked the village, they did not find Viet Cong, but took to killing the civilians all the same.  Some even raised their hands in surrender, and were easier prey.  Lieutenant William Calley was leading the killing.  With 200 prisoners lined up in front of a trench, a helicopter pilot, Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson, tried to intervene.  However Calley insisted he had his orders.  When the helicopter had taken off, Calley ordered the slaughter.  The continued shooting into the bodies to make sure nothing moved.  A group of Vietnamese holed up in a bunker.  Again they were pursued, but this time Thompson was able to rescue them, he also pulled a living boy from the pile of massacred bodies.
The massacre was covered up.  However the press finally did get a hold of the information.  Captain Medina, who gave the orders got off, having a good lawyer.  Lieutenant Calley was convicted of multiple counts of premeditated murder, but his sentence was commuted by President Nixon.  Hugh Thompson was harassed and threatened with prosecution.  It took thirty years for his bravery to be recognized.  He and his crew received the Soldier's Medal for their actions.
Warrant Officer Hugh THompson

The MIssing 9/11 Terrorist: The Power of Everyday Heroes

Taken from Miracles and Massacres: True and Untold Stories of the Making of America, by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe and Hannah Beck, Theshold Editions, New York, 2013.

It may well have been the actions of an Orlando border agent Jose Melendez-Perez, an Army veteran who took protection of the United States seriously.  The individual in question had incomplete documents, and so was interviewed by the agent.  His story did not add up.  He wouldn't say who he was to meet, and how he was getting around with his limited English skills.  He did take the finger prints of Mohammed al Qahtani before denying him entry.  He was given they opportunity to return to Dubai, paying for his ticket back.  Facing this or imprisonment he took the opportunity.
The day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Flight 93 only had four terrorists on board, not five like the other planes.  Perhaps one less man defending the cock pit after taking over the flight is what allowed the heroes aboard Flight 93 to drive it into the ground instead of the intended target in Washington, D.C.
After the attack on Afghanistan, Qatani was captured in the Tora Bora area.  He was identified from the finger prints.  He had not given his name when captured, but the finger prints gave him away.  Qatani ended up at Guantanamo Bay.
There he was subjected to accepted interrogation procedures, restraint on a swivel chair, deprivation of sleep, loud music, prohibition of praying, threats of rendition to countries who use torture.  After a week the interview began.  He was accused of being the twelfth hijacker.  He was asked the location of Bin Laden.  He was accused of wasted the interrogators time, and asked to give one name.  He gave Abu Ahmed al Kuwaite, who taught him internet.
Some months later, that name came up, Sheik Al Kuwaite.  Invasion of the compound where he was located lead to the killing of Bin Laden.
Small things can bring important results.
Jose Melendez-Perez

Chapter Review: The Sabateurs: In a Time of War, the Laws Are SIlent

Taken from Miracles and Massacres: True and Untold Stories of the Making of America, by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe and Hannah Beck, Theshold Editions, New York, 2013.

German trained saboteurs to invade the American coast and cause damage to American infrastructure during WWII.  These were generally men who had lived in America and knew the customs and language.  Some did not know what they were getting into.  George Dasch was one of them.  They really were not good learners, nor good spies.  That didn't seem to matter to the Nazis.  They were given specific targets, bridges, railways and factories.  They were headed to America, dropped off by submarine; two groups, four men to New York, Long Island, the other four to Florida.  A National Guard man came upon them as the landed.  They presented as fisherman, without fishing tackle.  The story didn't add up, when they threatened him, he let them go.  They had been given ample money to stay in rich hotels.  George did not intend to carry out sabotage, nor did Peter Berger.
George called the FBI and asked to speak to Herbert Hoover.  His call was handled as a crank call.  He traveled to Washington D.C. where he called the FBI and was put in contact with Duane Traynor to expose the entire operation.  He was sure he would be a hero.  He could take the money and live well.  However, after taking days to explain his case, George was arrested and imprisoned as a spy.  J. Edgar Hoover took credit for breaking the spy ring. The other men were all gathered.  George faced a military tribunal.  However his lawyer was able to appeal his case, George was an American, and entitled to a fair trial.  His case made its way all the way to the supreme court.  The military argued that in time of was, such laws could be suspended with regards to enemy combatants.  The Supreme Court sided with the government, and the military trials preceded.  Six of the eight spies were executed.  George was sentenced to 30 years in prison, and Peter to life in prison.
However, even though the Supreme Court had announced its ruling, writing a opinion was harder.  It was not based on sound legal precedent.  Four of the justices were now doubting their ruling.  However six men had been executed.  The opinion, written by Chief Justice Harlan Stone was not written well, but they all signed it.  President Truman granted executive immunity to the two men, and they were shipped back to Germany in 1948.
This case was later used as precedent during the Afghanistan conflict for holding American Citizens as enemy combatants.
George John Dasch