Every year we gather around our television sets to watch Academy Awards (this year Sunday, Feb 27 8PM EST, 5PM EST on ABC), also called the Oscars. This awards ceremony was developed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to recognize those working in the film industry who have performed their job excellently. The formal ceremony is televised to over 200 countries and is the oldest award ceremony in media.
The Academy itself is composed of roughly 6,000 film industry professionals from around the world; however the majority are based in the United States. The idea of the AMPAS began with the then head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Louis B. Mayer. The original goal of the organization was to mediate labor disputes and improve the industry’s image.
Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. was elected as the first president of the Academy. One of his first jobs was to bestow awards of merit for distinct achievement. Mayer asked MGM art director, Cedric Gibbons to design the now famous Oscar trophy. Sculptor George Stanley was paid $500 to execute the original statue from Gibbons’ design. Trivia tidbit: Because of a metal shortage during World War II, Oscar statuettes were made of painted plaster. The very first ever Academy Awards nominees were notified via telegram in February 1928. The awards would be for films made in 1927 and 1928.
The Ceremony was held on May 16, 1929 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles, California. 207 people showed up. They paid $5 a ticket. It was not broadcast on radio or television; however, fans of the celebrities did show up to watch them step out of their luxury vehicles. Douglas Fairbanks, the president of the Academy, made the official award presentations. Twelve awards were presented at the dinner and 20 additional certificates of honorable mention were given to runners-up in each awards category.
I have been reading A Little History of the World by E. H. Gombrich. I wasn’t able to finish it. It was just too boring. It reads like a children’s bedtime story. So, while this may be a great children’s book, I don’t think it speaks to adults as well.
I wanted to like this book so much. It has great reviews on Amazon, 75 with an average of r 4.5 out of 5 stars. On goodreads, a social book readers website, the book has 755 ratings with an average of 4.01 out of 5. It is clear that people love this book. I just couldn’t get into it. First of all, it’s a book for children. It was originally published in German 70 years ago. It has been translated into many different languages. Also, Gombrich was never a historian. This is revealed in the story of how he came to write this book, which is in the introduction. It says that he was reading something from a publisher friend of his that was about to be published as a children’s history book, and he thought it was terrible. His friend the publisher challenged him to do better. He accepted the challenge and this book is the result of that wager.
As a children’s book I think this might be good. Hard to tell, since my little girl is only 2, I think it is too soon to regale her with this kind of content. But I will keep my copy and see how she responds to it in the coming years. There are lots of comments from amazon reviews like, “Wonderful Book for Homeschoolers” or “Bedtime Stories of History”. Some of those reviews say it is great for adults too, but I just can’t agree. To me there just is not enough there to keep me engrossed. I’m not looking forward to reading this when I’m away from it.
I think the goodread’s reviewer David Giltinan summed it up best in his review:
I can’t bring myself to jump on the warm and fuzzy bandwagon of approval of this deeply flawed book. It is what it is – a condensation of all of human history into sequential “stories” suitable for “children“. [my emphasis] Supposing for the moment that this is not an inherent recipe for disaster, what is baffling is the number of reviewers who claim to see something in this work “for adults”.
Have you read this book? What did you think? Please share your review in the comments section below. Better yet, if you have kids do you read this to them and what do they think about it?
The History of Rome by Mike Duncan posted its first episode on Sunday December 30, 2007 and for the last 4 years he has been rocking the podcast world. In 2010 his podcast won the Podcast Award in the education category. It is a pretty big deal to win the podcast awards. Congratulations to Mike!
On iTunes History of Rome has 1,121 ratings and an average rating of 5 out of 5 stars! Wow! History of Rome is currently number 4 on the top 10 podcast on iTunes.
For this review I listened to episode 127 – Commanding the Economy. The duration of the episode was 28 minutes and change. It was released on February 21, 2011. Mike seems to keep the podcast fairly frequent. At the beginning of the podcast is a 60 second plug for audible. Strangely this didn’t bother me though. Mike has an almost hypnotic voice. It has a strange ability to calm you. It’s like meditation with history. But that’s good, really.
After the plug for audible there some calming music played then Mike gets right into the episode content, see his description of the episode below:
Rome’s economy was in disarray when Diocletian came to power and he initiated major overhauls to get the system running again.
As I mentioned before Mike has a great voice. He doesn’t say what he does for a living, but if he is not in radio he should be, what a voice! Here is what I could find on the History of Rome website’s about page in regards to Mike:
Mike Duncan grew up outside of Seattle, WA and has a degree in Political Science and Philosophy from Western Washington University. His deep and abiding love for Roman history is matched only by his deep and abiding love for Seattle Mariners baseball. He recently married and now lives in Austin, TX.
Mike reads nice and slow, but not too slow, just right actually. He does a great job doing a summary/overview of what will be covered in this particular episode. I don’t want to ruin the podcast for you, so I’m not going to cover the content that Mike went over. At the end of the podcast the same calm music plays.
I’m going to stay subscribed to this one! I really enjoyed it and look forward to more from Mike.
While doing my research I found two other reviews that have been done on the History of Rome Podcast. Frank Yeats for Suite101 did a review on May 20, 2010 and Charles Odom from the Yahoo! Contributor Network did a review on April 6, 2009.
In addition to the website the History of Rome Podcast also has a Facebook group.
As mentioned earlier, the History of Rome won the Podcast Awards for 2010 in the Education category. There is a Youtube video of the awards ceremony here, skip to 18:20 in the video to see just the education category:
Found a cool site and thought you would like it to. This site Youtube Time Machine (YTTM), finds videos from specific years and you can browse through them. I went to 1979, the year I was born and found a cool video with Christopher Reeve on the Johnny Carson show. You can see it below.
He is being interviewed for his role in Superman (only $10 on blu-ray right now!). They talk about the amazing graphics. It was a pretty cool watch. A while back I was asked to do a podcast on Superman and I think I ended up doing the history of the comic book for the most part. Mostly and origin story, but it occurs to me that really for my generation Christopher Reeve was Superman. I want to read his autobiography Still Me, or actually I really want to listen to it since he reads it. It was written in 1999 only four years after his near fatal accident. An amazon.com description says:
Christopher Reeve begins his heroic reading of Still Me with a special introduction, including this message: “Now, this audiobook allows me to communicate with you in a very personal way, second only to being in the same room.” Personal indeed. Hearing Reeve tell his account of the near-fatal riding accident on Memorial Day 1995 is a life-altering experience.
Another book on the to-read list. This blog is really starting to hurt my chances of getting through the ones that are already on there. This one is audio so it should go fast. Reeve followed up Still Me with another book in 2004 called: Nothing is Impossible: Reflections on a New Life. It has 4.5 stars our of 42 reviews. Sounds pretty good too! There is an audio version of this that Reeve reads himself again. I love it when authors do that.
You may not know, but I am a huge fan of ice hockey. A little odd for someone who lives outside of Canada, but never the less a huge fan. So when I saw that it was the 31st anniversary of the Miracle on Ice today, I was very excited. Finally something that links my two great loves hockey and history.
Even though hockey is not as popular as other sports, see Google trends graph above, I still love it. This Olympic hockey game seems to be very well known. Of course, it helps that it was the Olympics and not a regular National Hockey League (NHL) game. And it also helps that there has been a movie made on the subject, not to mention a couple books. Like The Boys of Winter: The Untold Story of a Coach, a Dream, and the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team which Jim Craig, the USA team goalie wrote the forward to. Sport Illustrated even said, “It may be the single most indelible moment in all of U.S. sports history.” That is a pretty big statement.
The Winter Olympics that year took place at Lake Placid. The USSR, was the team to beat. They were unstoppable. In ’79 the USSR embarrassed the NHL All Stars in the final game of a challenge series; the score was 6-0 USSR. Ouch! The U.S. would need a great team if they were going to beat the USSR at the games.
The man chosen to lead this team was Herb Brooks. He was a NCAA coach for Minnesota, where he led that team to three titles. He himself was a student of international studies and played for the U.S. in two Olympics. He was cut from the 1960 team at the last moment.
Brooks spent one and a half years working his team, making them into Olympians. His first step was to gather those troops. He held several tryout camps and gave the prospects psychological tests. The final team then spent four months playing exhibition games in Europe, Canada and the U.S. Brooks concentrated on speed, conditioning and discipline for his team, since matching the Europeans skill would be all but impossible in the time he was given.
These college players that Brooks had on his team didn’t like each other. They had come from competing colleges. It was a constant struggle to keep them from fighting. Brooks, got them to all hate him and with a common enemy things cooled down between the players. One of the defenders, Mike Ramsey once said of Brooks, “He messed with our minds at every opportunity.” Captain Mike Eruzione added, “If Herb came into my house today, it would still make me feel uncomfortable.”
Brooks was able to tap talent out of all his team members and with that skill and his training he had a winning team. Still, this USA team was seen as the underdogs. Brooks felt that a Bronze medal was in reach for his team. Before the Olympics he arranged for an exhibition game to be played against the USSR team. The U.S. team lost 10-3. Brooks took the blame saying that his game plan was too conservative.
The first game of the Winter Olympics for the U.S. team was against Sweden. They were tied 2-2 near the end of the game, but at the last moment Bill Baker scored, sending them to play Czechoslovakia, which went much better, they won 7-3. They turned up the heat and won two more games against Norway and Romania. Then they had a comeback win in a gripping game against Germany, that ended 4-2.
The Soviets dominated in almost every game. They did fall behind in the Finland and Canada games briefly before they came back to win those games. The outcomes of those games meant that the first team that the U.S. team would play against in the medal round was the USSR. They had to win or there would be no medal, not even the Bronze which Brooks had thought within their reach.
Center Mark Johnson and right wing Mike Eruzione would be remembered for their scoring, but without goalie Jim Craig they would not have had a chance. Craig kept them in the game. After the first period the score was 2-1, the USSR was winning. But a last minute goal late in that period was still being considered. Dave Christian got a lucky break when USSR goalie Tretiak gave a fat rebound and Christian knocked it in at the buzzer. The referees deemed it good and now the teams were tied after only 20 minutes.
When the USSR came back on the ice, they replaced their seasoned goalie with their backup Myshkin. Tretiak expressed his disappointment in the coaches decision in his book. In the second period, the Soviets were definitely playing much harder. The Americans were only able to get two shots at the goal and the USSR team scored, bringing the game to 3-2 at the end of the period.
Brooks had prepped his team well. In the third and last period one of the main components of Brooks’ training came into play. Speed. The Soviet coach leaned heavily on his veteran players, but the U.S. players could catch them. Brooks’ team was faster. When the USSR did finally make a mistake an American player was there to make the most of it. That is exactly what Eruzione did when he scooped up a botched pass, skated to the top of the USSR zone and landed a wrist shot, making the score 4-3 USA.
The game began to roll down to the final moments and that’s when broadcaster Al Michaels said these now famous words:
“Eleven seconds. You got ten seconds, the countdown going on right now. Five seconds left in the game! Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”
The building erupted in applause. It was the first loss by a Soviet Union team in Olympic play in 20 years. The soviets had actually outshot the USA 39-16 shots on goal during the game, but it just wasn’t enough for the USSR. The USA team wasn’t done yet though. That was only the first game in the medals round, now they had to win against Finland.
In a practice game before the next medal game Brooks kept up his torment saying, “You’re too young. You can’t do this.” It seemed like he might be right, because in the first period the U.S. team was down 2-1. In the intermission, Brooks said to his team that if they didn’t win, “this will haunt you for the rest of your lives.” His players responded by three unanswered goals in the last period of the game.
This article is getting pretty long so I’ll just tell you that there is this great post at lifewhile.com about where the players of the miracle team are now. It was published last year on the 30th anniversary of the great game.
On this day in 1965 Malcolm X was assassinated. Below you see a picture of the Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom, this is where on February 21, 1965 39 year-old, Malcolm X was assassinated by three men. He was taken to New York’s Columbia Presbyterian Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 3:30pm. The main shooter was Thomas Hagan, He was shot in the leg by one of X’s bodyguards and almost beaten to death by the crowd while trying to escape.
All three of Malcolm X’s murders are now released from prison. Talmadge Hayer also known as Thomas Hagan, who was arrested at the scene of the shootings was released in 2010 and now goes by the name Mujahid Halim. He is interviewed in the second video below.
Eye witnesses at the crime scene identified the other two gunman as Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson. Both continue to maintain their innocence today. Butler, now goes by Muhammad Abdul Aziz, and was paroled in 1985. He became the head of the Nation of Islam’s Harlem’s Mosque in New York in 1998. Johnson, changed his name to Khalil Islam, was released from prison in 1987.
Back in high school I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X. It was an amazing book and if you have not read it I would highly recommend it. I still remember the passage where he tells the story of how they used to break into houses. But if the bathroom light was no they would skip that house. His logic being that anyone can be using the restroom at any time of night. So if you don’t want your house to be robbed while you sleep then turn on the bathroom light before you go to bed. Great, great book!
Did you know that there is an official website of Malcolm X? Neither did I. Wow. I usually have to search wikipedia or some other source for information. I’ll tell you this much there was no conference of Vienna official website. But thats ok, I can see where conferenceofvienna.com would be a really long url. The website says:
The Official Web Site of Malcolm X has everything you want to know about this historical figure. Read his biography and read inspirational quotes from this talented speaker. Browse the photo gallery for pictures of Malcolm X throughout his life!
Free wallpapers and screen savers. What? You’ve got to be kidding me! This site has everything. The store link is not working, but there are links to posters from allposters.com and links to books from an amazon store. Lots of affiliate links. At the bottom of the site it says copyright Estate of Malcolm X. Unbelievable! I am very impressed.
What is wrong with the world today? No one is interested in history anymore? Just look at this horrible downward trend. I’m afraid to compare this trend to Britney Spears or Justin Bieber, and yes I did have to look up how to spell his last name. No idea what he is even famous for. Just know he is famous. What can we as history enthusiasts do to turn this tend upside down?
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Sequels aren’t inherently bad-remember that Huckleberry Finn was a sequel to Tom Sawyer. But Twain understood what modern storytellers seem to have forgotten-a compelling sequel offers consumers a new perspective on the characters, rather than just more of the same. -Henry Jenkins
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was written by Mark Twain or Samuel Clemens (thats a whole other post). It was first published in England in 1884, then published in the United States in 1885. It is, rightly, considered to be one of the great American novels. T.S. Elliot called it a “masterpiece.” Ernest Hemingway said, it was the source of “all modern american literature.” Even though, this work of Twain’s is considered to be an American classic it has had plenty of problems:
It was condemned by many reviewers in Mark Twain’s time as coarse and by many commentators in our time as racist. In 1885 it was banished from the shelves of the Concord Public Library, an act that attracted a lot of publicity and discussion in the press. It is still frequently in the news, as various schools and school systems across the country either ban it from or restore it to their classrooms. -http://etext.virginia.edu/railton/huckfinn/huchompg.html
Just last month, the press was light on fire with the news of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn being re-published without the N word. I’m not going to state that word, here because I believe it to be offensive as well, but I do believe that we should not be altering this great american novel. That is the way the author intended his work and it should not be altered and re-published under the same title. The book is in the public domain, so I can’t argue that it should not be changed and republished under a different name. I believe in public domain, but I don’t believe we should change Twain’s work and republish it under the same title.
Alan Gribben and publisher NewSouth Books intend to republish the book without the N word or another derogatory slang term for American Indian. Sorry for leaving out all these “bad” words. You can read all about it in this article.
I encourage you to read more about Twain. He was a truley amazing person. One of those people in our history that really stands out, not just for his amazing literature, but also for being a fascinating person. I read this autobiography, The Autobiography of Mark Twain and can tell you that you will not be disappointed if you read it. In fact, maybe it is time to go back and read some of his classic works?
Bob gets right into it. No, “This is Bob and the show name”, nothing. The show I listened to was called, Atlanta Campaign Part 1 of 4. It was published 2/11/11. The episode was ten minutes and 32 seconds long. This is Bob’s description of the podcast episode:
This show is about the Atlanta campaign in May 1864 Part 1 of 4 this one deals with early movements and Rocky Face Ridge.
This particular episode could have used some visuals. It was hard to visualize the battle scene and who was where.
Bob is hard-core old school. He has a very distinctive almost nasally voice. His podcast has no music, no sponsors, no picture associated with the mp3. I’m some what surprised he had the show description in the lyrics field of the mp3.
I thought this particular episode was very well done. Its pretty quick so I won’t summarize it here, just go check it out for yourself. At the end of the show he does quickly cover the name of his website and sources he used to put together this episode
Even though, what I have written above criticizes Bob’s podcast, ignore all that. It has been said that content is king and if you agree with that, you will be very hard pressed to find a better history podcast than History According to Bob [iTunes Link]. Bob’s was the first history podcast available that I know of. I would say that it was one of the first 300 podcast available in the beginning. It came before History Podcast, my own creation. I still think History According to Bob is a stellar show! No one knows their stuff better than Bob. His is the podcast that inspired me to podcast. His show is simply awesome. If you only subscribe to one podcast this should be it.
History According to Bob is number 58 in the Top 100 history podcast on iTunes. His show has 114 ratings with an average rating of 5 stars.
After listening to this episode I decided to listen to the episode entitled Questions 86 as well. These are episodes that Bob creates specifically to cover what is happening with him personally and to go over the emails that he receives.
I was sorry to hear while listening to Questions 86 that Bob’s wife has cancer. I hope she has a full recovery and is healthy soon! I’ve missed out on a lot since not keeping up with his episodes. He does so many that I have a hard time keeping up. Strangely enough he talks about the show Who Do You Think You Are?, something that we talked about briefly in another podcast review posting, BBC History Magazine. Bob goes on to talk about request for episodes he has received and his addiction to the video game Mass Effect 3 (gotta love a guy who is a gamer). In addition to Who do You Think You Are, he also discusses the HBO program Rome.
Below is a YouTube video that Bob did on the cold war:
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