Thursday, February 22, 2018

Alaskan dogs in the Vosges during the Great War

The winter of 1914-1915 in the Vosges was one of the most severe of the beginning of the century. On the ridges the snow often reached 2 meters in height and the accumulation of snow made the work of the mules long and difficult. Soldiers had to continually clear snow to clear the passage. Their work quickly proved ineffective.
"The situation of the soldiers who, in the front line, defend the very strategic blue line of the Vosges is catastrophic: cut from their rear base by heavy snowfall, it is impossible to supply them with food and ammunition”, says a report.
The front resists but thousands of Chasseurs Alpins lose their lives. It is essential to prevent the disaster from recurring the following winter, at the risk, this time, of the total invasion of French territory by the Germans.
Having lived in Alaska before the conflict, Captain Louis Moufflet of the 62nd Battalion of Chasseurs Alpins and the infantry Lieutenant René Haas, who before the war was a prospector of gold in Alaska propose to get snow and winter hardy dogs from Alaska.
A mission is sent to America, but shortage in funding and poor cooperation from Americans in the name of Neutrality (advocated by President Wilson, the United States will not enter the war until April 1917) are serious hindrances.
In the end, 436 dogs were assembled; harnesses made, seventy sledges constructed as well as five tons of prepared special biscuits. Together, they make up the largest dog pack ever gathered in the world and shipped to France.
The dogs did exactly what was hoped for and played an important part in winning the war. Three of the Alaskan dogs were decorated with the Croix de Guerre.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Harold Clayton Lloyd & Mildred Hillary Davis

Harold Clayton Lloyd Sr. (1893 –1971) was an American actor, comedian, film director, film producer, screenwriter, and stunt performer, who is most famous for his silent comedy films.
Mildred Hillary Davis (1901 – 1969) was an American actress who appeared in many of Harold Lloyd's classic silent comedies and eventually became his wife.
The couple had three children including Gloria Lloyd and Harold Lloyd Jr. They remained very close for their entire life together. Although Lloyd's individual films were not as commercially successful as Chaplin's on average, he was far more prolific (releasing twelve feature films in the 1920s while Chaplin released just four), and made more money overall ($15.7 million to Chaplin's $10.5 million).
Both were regular beret wearers.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Bonetaire turns 55!

Yes, it's that day of the year again... 55 years ago I was born in one of the coldest winters on record in the Netherlands.
And although I wasn't wearing a beret when leaving the Majella Hospital in Bussum, 2 days old, I was transported home in a Citroën 2CV (which made for a good start as a life of being a bonetaire).
To remind you, and myself, that 55 is actually still spring-chicken-like young, here some pictures of boineros who have been walking around even longer on this planet. 
And to repeat my daughter's famous sales pitch: MAKE HIS DAY, BUY A BERET!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Teapot by Lorisa Pottery of Guadalajara Mexico

Surprisingly, beret wearing never took hold in Mexico (unlike countries like Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay), despite a large Basque immigrant population.
Similarly, berets are not commonly associated with drinking tea; if any drink, it would be coffee and wine, maybe some Armagnac, Pastis or the occasional beer.
However, the famous Lorisa Pottery of Guadalajara, Mexico combines both rarities - creating a teapot in the shape of a boinero.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Thunder in the Sun

Thunder in the Sun is a 1959 western film directed by Russell Rouse starring Susan Hayward and Jeff Chandler.
The film shows a family of French Basque immigrants pioneering into the Wild West while carrying their ancestral vines (and wearing their berets). Hard drinking trail driver Lon Bennett is hired to lead them and he falls for the spirited Gabrielle Dauphin.
The film is infamous among Basques for its misunderstandings of Basque customs, such as the use of the xistera (a device of the jai alai sport) as a weapon or shouting irrintzi ululations as meaningful communication. 
Other commentators, though, have noted the well-staged action scenes, the absorbing story, and the excellent cinematography. Which is a marvel since 90% of the lead actors scenes were shot in a studio with projected backgrounds.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Lawrence Block

Lawrence Block (born June 24, 1938) is an American crime writer best known for two long-running New York–set series about the recovering alcoholic P.I. Matthew Scudder and the gentleman burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr. Block was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1994.
Born in Buffalo, N.Y., Lawrence Block attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH, but left before graduating. His earliest work, published pseudonymously in the 1950s, was mostly in the soft-porn mass market paperback industry, an apprenticeship he shared with fellow mystery author Donald E. Westlake. 
Block describes the early sex novels as a valuable experience, noting that despite the titillating content of the books (rather mild by later standards of adult fiction) he was expected to write fully developed novels with plausible plots, characters and conflicts. He further credits the softcore novels as a factor in his prolific output; writing 15 to 20 sex novels per year to support himself financially, Block was forced to learn to write in a manner that required little revision and editing of his first drafts.
Block's most famous creation, the ever-evolving Matthew Scudder, was introduced in 1976's The Sins of the Fathers as an alcoholic ex-cop working as an unlicensed private investigator in Hell's Kitchen. Originally published as paperbacks, the early novels are in many ways interchangeable; the second and third entries—In the Midst of Death (1976) and Time to Murder and Create (1977)—were written in the opposite order from their publication dates. 1982's 8 Million Ways to Die (filmed in 1986 by Hal Ashby, with unpopular results) breaks from that trend, concluding with Scudder introducing himself at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Stunningly Beautiful Curcuma!

If there ever was a contest for the most stunningly beautiful beret, the Auloronesa in 'curcuma' would score very, very high!
For many years, I have tried to get a beret in this colour (think of the Le Béret Français and Czech Classic in 'mustard'), but these are no competition for this Auloronesa. It's a natural dye that is very hard to get right, but Boneteria Auloronesa did the job. I have a very small number in 9.5 and 10p only, but hope to persuade the manufacturer to make another batch in 10.5, 11 and 12p-Alpin (no guarantee this will come to fruition).
In the shipment, I received the often requested and now custom made 9.5p universels in navy; 5 only, for those boineros with a taste for small diameter berets.
More news about Boneteria Auloronesa, Laulhère, Bonigor and Arandú can be found in the newsletter that went out today.

Martin Briley

 Martin Briley (1949, London) is an English singer-songwriter, guitarist and keyboardist.
He has recorded with and written for a variety of well-known musicians, as well as releasing several solo albums Briley began playing and writing music when he was ten years old.
At the age of seventeen, he and his band "Mandrake Paddle Steamer" (later shortened to Mandrake) signed their first record deal with Parlophone/EMI, and subsequently recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios.
Briley signed a deal with Mercury Records as a solo artist in the early 1980s, going on to release three albums under his own name. 
His single "The Salt in My Tears" went into heavy rotation on MTV and reached No. 36 on the Hot 100 on 30 July 1983, earning him a reputation as a one-hit wonder, although his follow-up single, "Put Your Hands on the Screen" did also crack the Hot 100.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Carnival

Carnival is originally a Christianized pagan folk festival. Historically the party falls around the first Sundays of Lent, but is nowadays traditionally limited to only one (extended) weekend around this period. 
Carnival is the feast of foolishness, ridicule and exuberance that puts it in stark contrast to fasting. There are regionally different names for this festival in the Low Lands: in the Belgian and Dutch provinces of Limburg and the adjacent German Rhineland it is called Vastelaovend, in southern Germany Fasnacht (fasting evening).
Carnival's date finds its current origin in the ecclesiastical calendar, which is counted from Easter Sunday. Easter Sunday is, according to the Council of Nicaea (325 AD), the first Sunday after the first full moon after the beginning of spring (March 21). Lent begins 40 days of fasting for Easter Monday, with Sundays not counted. The first Carnival Day then falls seven weeks before Easter Sunday. Carnival officially starts on Sunday.
Carnival being widely celebrated in the Netherlands, there is a demand to Government to make these official holidays. A petition has been started to gather a minimum of 40.000 signatures to have this brought to Parliament (but has already 170.000 and counting).
Captaining the activists is former football player and nowadays musician Björn van der Doelen, aka Sjefke Vaeren. His outfit, including customized beret, has been widely copied and, thanks to brewer Bavaria, the beret is available online for a few euro each!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Exotic French Fantasies

Exotic French Fantasies is a 1974 American pornographic movie, starring Linda Susan Boreman, aka Linda Lovelace. The title sounds as awful as the life story of Ms Boreman. 
Linda Lovelace was  famous for her performance in the 1972 hardcore porn film Deep Throat. Although the film was an enormous success at the time, it was later alleged by Boreman that her abusive husband, Chuck Traynor, had threatened and coerced her into the performance. Boreman described what went on behind the scenes in her autobiography Ordeal
She later became a "born again" Christian and a spokeswoman for the anti-pornography movement.

Monday, February 12, 2018

For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls is a novel by Ernest Hemingway published in 1940. It tells the story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to a republican guerrilla unit during the Spanish Civil War. As a dynamiter, he is assigned to blow up a bridge during an attack on the city of Segovia.
Ernest Hemingway wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls in Havana, Cuba; Key West, Florida; and Sun Valley, Idaho in 1939. The novel was finished in July 1940 at the InterContinental New York Barclay Hotel in New York City.

The book (and film) are based on Hemingway's experiences during the Spanish Civil War and features an American protagonist, named Robert Jordan, who fights with Spanish soldiers on the Republican side.
Characters in the novel include those who are purely fictional, those based on real people but fictionalized, and those who were actual figures in the war. Set in the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range between Madrid and Segovia, the action takes place during four days and three nights.
For Whom the Bell Tolls became a Book of the Month Club choice, sold half a million copies within months, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and became a literary triumph for Hemingway. Published on 21 October 1940, the first edition print run was 75,000 copies priced at $2.75.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Dam protest in Chile

The HidroAysén project envisages five dams to tap the Baker and Pascua rivers, an isolated area of fjords and valleys, and generate 2.75 gigawatts of power for Chile's booming economy.
The government has championed the dams as vital to poverty alleviation and economic growth, but public opinion has split, with many saying the project is unnecessary and will devastate an ecological haven.
The project is estimated to flood 5,900 hectares (15,000 acres) of natural reserves. It will also attract 5,000 workers from Chile and abroad. The project will be connected to the Central Interconnected System by 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi) of electric wiring.
Based on study of the project construction and access roads will impact six national parks, eleven national reserves, twenty-six conservation priority sites, sixteen wetland areas and thirty-two privately owned protected conservation areas. This is in addition to six Mapuche communities including four in Toltén and one Lautaro and Victoria.
A portion of the Baker 2 dam will be located in Laguna San Rafael National Park which will cause irreversible environmental damage.