8 Nov 2009

gridlore: Photo: Rob Halford on stage from the 1982 "Screaming for Vengeance" tour (Music - Rob Halford)
Twenty years ago this week, the Berlin Wall fell. After thousands of East Germans had already fled to Austria via Hungary, and facing wide spread demonstrations and near rebellion in the military, Erich Honecker, East Germany's head of state, had to resign on October 18, 1989. The new government prepared a new law to lift the travel restrictions for East German citizens. At 06.53 pm on November 9, 1989 a member of the new East German government was asked at a press conference when the new East German travel law comes into force.

He answered: "Well, as far as I can see, ... straightaway, immediately."

Thousands of East Berliners  went to the border crossings. At Bornholmer Strasse the people demanded to cross the border and at 10.30 pm the border was opened there. That moment meant the end of the Berlin Wall. Soon other border crossing points opened the gates to the West. In that night the deadly border was opened by East Germans peacefully. Word spread like wildfire, and soon enough people were attacking the hated barrier with picks, hammers, and crowbars.

The next year saw the Scorpions record Wind of Change, written by Klaus Meine as a commentary on the sweeping and stunning changes taking place in Eastern Europe. The song has been voted the 10th best single by a German band, and remains one of the better examples of a power ballad.

Please enjoy the Scorpions and the Moscow Symphony Orchestra live in Red Square - Wind of Change

I have to say the one image from that entire period that sticks with me comes from December 26th, 1991. The NBC news ended their broadcast with no music, no credits, just a shot of the Kremlin with the Russian - not Soviet - flag flying. Considering I had joined the Army fully expecting to end up fighting the Soviets that was a powerful image.

Next up, a Veteran's Day special! Three videos from Iron Maiden! See ya Wednesday!
gridlore: A pile of a dozen hardback books (Books)
Just finished 1634: The Bavarian Crisis by Eric Flint and Virginia DeMarce. The latest in the avalanche of Ring of Fire books, this one address events in Bavaria, Austria, and the Upper Palatinate. The main thrust of events surrounds the historical marriage of Duke Maximillian of Bavaria to his niece Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria. However, the Archduchess has been reading up-time encyclopedias and other books, and is beginning to get some different ideas about duty. Then actual uptimers get involved. . .

This book should have been a romp. It has kidnappings, intrigue, narrow escapes, disguises, villains, heroes, and True Love. It should have been tight, with action flying left and right. The second half of the book is like that. The first half? A slog.

I blame Ms. DeMarce. She's a brilliant historian, no doubt. But the two books in this series that she's co-written have been bogged down by excessive detail. Ten pages of characters and four genealogies? Too much! There was too much time spent setting up why a convoy of people from Grantville had to go to the Palatinate. One was a mission to look into getting iron production restarted. This was merely a pretext for getting characters in place for the further events. Others were a downtimer looking to collect on her deceased husband's estate, the wife of the USE Navy's commander searching for funds for a school, etc. This was all secondary, and not important to the story. The reason for the trip was to put the characters into the action!

In stead we get almost 300 pages of detailed discussion of legal affairs, the inner workings of the mining cartels (including, I swear, a full page of nothing but a listing of the various towns and holdings in the Upper Palatinate. WHY?), and the minutiae of training teachers in 17th century Europe. Meantime, we slowly, ever so slowly, start to see the plot. But at least half of the first half of this book needed to be dumped and rewritten.

Once things get moving, the book becomes fun and the farcical romp it should have been. But you really can't hate a book that has a Spanish princling declare "Think of the songs! Think of the poems! Think of the Harlequin Romances!"

Three penguins out of five. If you enjoy the Ring of Fire series, it's worth it.


gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)

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