Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Fury hit theaters this week and tells the story of War Daddy, Bible, Coon-Ass, Gordo, and newbie Norman (who hadn't earned a hip war name yet) and their trusty ole tank Fury during the last month of World War II.

Writer-director David Ayer said he wanted to steer away from creating a typical war movie (what he says is one which centers around a major event) and instead focus on the impact on the psyche of those fighting. Which he does beautifully. A majority of the tank crew have been fighting together for years and have seen things that thousands and thousands of PTSD therapy hours couldn't even begin to put a dent into. 

Ayer also shows Germany at its most desperate. Throughout the last month of fighting, the country refused to surrender and we see the effect on its people: A woman cuts meat from a dead animal, children are given weapons to go out and fight, and citizens are hung in the streets over their refusal to join Axis powers. When Fury's crew says "Best job I ever had" what they are really saying is how the adrenaline rush of being alive is way better than being that pile of blood and guts.

Image source: Daily Mail

The movie doesn't rely on squeamish violence to carry it along. Which I like. It kind of begins with Brad Pitt stabbing a man through his eyeball, but that's pretty much the extent of the really gory gore from what I remember. The Bear Jew stayed home.

It is one of my favorite war movies, which according to Timeout's 'We count down the 50 greatest World War II movies with the aid of guest expert Quentin Tarantino', are something I know nothing about. I've seen three in the entire list.

Image source: Pinterest
It was great. The acting, story, symbolism, and cinematography were all aces. Five stars and especial kudos to Shia who can go from weepy-face to laughy-face all while quoting the same Bible verse.

Friday, October 17, 2014

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb #6

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb is a round-up of brand spankin' new history articles, selected by yours truly. Click on the link to be directed to the home site where you can read a professional being professional in their entirety.

Can You Pass A Middle School U.S. History Test? at BuzzFeed
I deed it.

Amal Clooney weighs in on Greek battle for Elgin Marbles at Telegraph

Remember when George Clooney was all hot and bothered over the Elgin Marbles back in February? Well it turns out his new wife, human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin, shares the same passion.

Remains of Alexander the Great's Father Confirmed Found at Discovery

Macedonian King Philip II was found in Vergina, 100 miles away from the ongoing excavation at Amphipolis which is believed to house Alexander's mother. Phil was assassinated at his daughter's wedding, Red Wedding-style.

Hitler and Meth: How History's Biggest Figures Hid Drug Addictions at Guff

Sigmund Freud, Thomas Edison, Charles Dickens, Benjamin Franklin, and others all used some form of cocaine or heroin. This article might make you want to take drugs. But in a good way? Because "let's face it: Meth can really help you get stuff done."

The Cardiff Giant Fools the Nation, 145 Years Ago at History
In a scheme intended to dupe literal Bible believers, cigar manufacturer George Hull commissioned a 10-foot-tall giant man made of gypsum to give truth to the famous line, "there were giants in the earth those days." Hoping to pass the statue off as a petrified giant, Hull buried the 3,000 pound man on a relative's farm and dug it up a year later, claiming to have unearthed a giant. Astonishment ensued, and after years of cashing in on the giant, Hull's hoax was eventually discovered. It cost 50 cents to see the giant in 1869 (when it was believed to be real). Today, it costs $12.

Science is Revealing The Secret Lives of Paintings at All Day
X-rays of what lies underneath layers and layers of paint. 

Divers Excavate Greek Shipwreck Dubbed "Ancient Titanic" at History
The 2,000 year-old shipwreck was discovered 114 years ago off the coast of southern Greece, and it's the gift that keeps on giving.

Viking treasure trove discovered in Scotland at The Guardian
Over 100 artifacts were discovered by a metal-detector-wielding man.

Friday, October 10, 2014

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb #5

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb is a round-up of brand spankin' new history articles, selected by yours truly. Click on the link to be directed to the home site where you can read a professional being professional in their entirety.

Because you really want to know.

With more theories than the Kennedy assassination, this Smithsonian article explores the top nine guesses of how Poe died after calling out the word "Rosebud" "Reynolds."

Not to be outdone in the news by Ebola, the origin of Aids has been traced back to a city in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In a valley surrounded by desert, archaeologists discovered a new 200-million year old dinosaur which they dubbed Tachiraptor admirabilis. Only two bones of the wolf-sized dinosaur have been found so far, a tibia and a hip bone which tells us…which tells us nothing.

Skeleton of Possible 'Witch Girl' Found at Discovery

A 13 year old girl was found buried face-down in an Italian burial ground believed to be dated from late antiquity to the early Middle Ages. A body buried in an unusual position is not uncommon if one was suspected of vampirism, witchcraft, etc. It was believed that a soul left the body through the mouth and facing a body downwards in burial ensures that the soul will not threaten the living. Unless a soul can make a U-turn. Can a soul make a U-turn?

Haiti shipwreck is not Columbus's Santa Maria, says Unesco at The Guardian
The ship found off the coast of Haiti earlier this year dates centuries later than believed after an examination of the remains by Unesco. Unesco called for further exploration of the surrounding waters, while also pleading with Haiti to keep their underwater looters at bay (but not in the bay, get them outta the bay).

First-Known Painting Depicts Rare, Hefty Animal at Discovery

The oldest known figurative cave painting was discovered on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi and dates back 40,000 years. No answers to the universe found here, it's a pig. Unless pigs are the answer.

When Hitler took cocaine at History Extra
Hitler is known for his funky health issues including stomach cramps and chronic flatulence that made him "leave the table after every meal in order to expel vast quantities of wind." His personal doctor, Dr. Morrel, put him on concoctions of opiates, sedatives, laxatives, amphetamines, barbiturates, morphine, probiotics, cocaine (in eye-drop form), and bull semen to help everything from morning grogginess to lack of a sex drive.

Can you tell your Churchill from your Hitler? at Telegraph
Nope, I could not.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Son by Philipp Meyer

"…the vicissitudes of fortune, which spares neither man nor the proudest of his works…buries empires and cities in a common gave." - Edward Gibbon

Any novel that opens with a quote from The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire I have automatic faith in and The Son by Philipp Meyer did not disappoint. Meyer, who is not ugly to look at (and you will be every time you pick up the book due to an overly large bio pic on the back flap), created an American epic of Feivel Goes West proportions in 2013. It is a story of good ol' Texas and its involvement with Indians/oil/nationalrelations/foreignrelations/everythingelse and the families that made the Lone Star State their home. Buy this book. And also read these excerpts (no spoilers) from The Son and prepare to question everything you thought you knew:

"The entire history of humanity is marked by a single inexorable movement."
"If that well in Iraq had come in ten or twelve years earlier, the Ottoman Empire would not have collapsed. The world would be an entirely different place." Hmm...

"As for JFK, it had not surprised her. The year he died, there were still living Texans who had seen their parents scalped by Indians." - On why JFK was assassinated in Texas of all places. The nasty business of scalping is a very common (very detailed) occurrence throughout the book.

"They were in favor of the war as long as they did not have to fight it themselves, and I have always thought that is why California turned out the way it did." - On people moving (fleeing?) to California when the Civil War broke out so they would not have to fight.

"Something was happening to the entire human race."
"In Australia, frozen into rock, there were the footprints of three people crossing a mudflat. At twenty-seven miles per hour - all three moving as fast as the fastest man on earth today. They were speeding up when the tracks ended." - The "Something was happening" Meyer is referring to may be 'regression.'

The Son was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction this year but was beat out by Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch. I'm not sure I agree.

Friday, October 3, 2014

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb #4

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb is a round-up of brand spankin' new history articles, selected by yours truly. Click on the link to be directed to the home site where you can read a professional being professional in their entirety.

11 Art Masterpieces Improved By Mr Bean at BuzzFeed

I strongly disagree. Maybe if they featured, like, anyone else. Literally anyone else.

I thought this was going to be a typical BuzzFeed article with answers like, "Play Mummy Maker," "Construct a virtual pyramid" or "Start a history blog no one gives a shit about" but it's just a bunch of history organizations that are looking for free labor. No I will not be transcribing stuff for free.

We Asked  British People To Answer A Few Basic Questions About American History at BuzzFeed
I guarantee they did better than the average American would have on the same quiz.

Cerro Rico: Devil worship on the man-eating mountain at BBC
An interesting article about the Mountain That Eats Men (Cerro Rico) in Bolivia. The silver-rich mountain has been mined for the last 500 years and over 8 million people have died in the process. With a present life expectancy of only 40 years old, workers worship El Tio, the devil god of the depths, hoping he will show mercy.

A book of 34 songs given as a gift to Henry VIII from a French diplomat has been released from the vaults of the British Library. The music was recently recorded in a version believed to be comparable to what it would have sounded like in 1520. It's pwetty. 

"Dracula's Dungeon" Unearthed in Turkey at History
Archaeologists say they have discovered the dungeons where little Vlad III was held captive for five years.

8 weird and wonderful pictures from the past at History Extra
Yes, that is Ronald Reagan modeling for an art class in a diaper.

All In The Family: Famous Married Cousins at All Day

Rudy Giuliani is totally on this list.

Just thought you should know.

In chronological order: Black Orpheus, Jason and the Argonauts, My Fair Lady, Oedipus the King, Ulysses, The Trojan Woman, Medea, Mighty Aphrodite, Disney's Hercules, The Clash of the Titans, O Brother Where Art Thou, and Troy.