And Now For Something Completely Different

By Peter Galuszka

Dear Baconauts,

As you know, people like me have been described by a B.R.  commenter as those who submit “scorch and burn, mock and smear writings encased in scornful, supercilious, opinionated, and shallow rhetoric.”

I freely admit this and am damned proud of it.

But instead of dishing out the usual sarcastic bile, I have another idea today. I don’t know about you, but with me self-quaranting as much as possible, I am running out of things to read or watch. I still have for-pay work but who knows how much that might last? So, why don’t we exchange ideas of new stuff to occupy our minds with. Here’s a list of recommended movies, TV series and books:

  • On Netflix, I am a huge fan of the German TV series “Bablyon Berlin,” which imagines a very dark, brooding German capital after the Great War and before Hitler. The chief characters are Georeon Rath, a shattered war veteran and police detective who gets into the seamy side of life. His heart throb is Charlotte Ritter, an office worker and part-time prostitute. The series has everything, shady characters, mysterious train shipments from the Soviet Union, fascists, communists, early porn studios. The acting, story line and photography are excellent. It’s like a grown up version of “Cabaret.”

  • Another Netflix TV offering is also a German TV series. It’s “Charitie,” a hospital (again in Berlin) before and during World War II. Again, excellent acting, photography so on. Some of the doctors and nurses are Nazis. Some aren’t
  • Netflix and Amazon Prime offer a wide assortment of documentaries including the Ken Burns series on the Vietnam War.
  • One EBook from Barnes & Noble of interest (hard to get to public libraries) that I recommend is “Russians Among Us” by British correspondent Gordon Corera who has covered intelligence for two decades and was stationed in Moscow. Fascinating reading, it discloses how Russian spying has changed from KGB officers pretending to be diplomats and long-term sleeper agents to influence peddlers who operate in the open. One is Maria Butina who came to the U.S. as a graduate student, dated her way to influence and then was convicted of failing to register as a foreign agent. Besides people like her, there are the long-term sleepers who actually train and marry in Russia and then emigrate to the U.S. or Canada where they spend decades in the suburbs building cover stories. This is where they got the idea of the highly-acclaimed TV series, “The Americans.” This is especially relevant, given the Russian intelligence interference with this year’s elections.
  • “A Fiery Peace in the Cold War,” by Pentagon Papers journalist Neil Seehan. This biography traces the life of Bernard (Bennie) Schriever who emigrated to Texas from Germany as a boy and became an Air Force general who developed American ICBMs.
  • “A Well Ordered Thing,” by Michael D. Gordin. This is an updated version of a 2005 biography of Russian scientist Dmitrii Ivanovich Mendeleev who created the periodic table of the elements. If a bit dry, this is fascinating history. I was interested because I am a failed chemistry major.
  • “Killers of the Flower Moon,” by David Grann. This intriguing mystery book tells the story of how the Osage Native American tribe struck oil in Oklahoma years ago, became rich and then how tribe members were suddenly killed off one by one.
  • “Obama’s Deadliest Coverup,” by Donald L. Blankenship. If you want good laugh during these bleak pandemic times, try this apologia for formerly Richmond-based Massey Energy and its awful safety record by its former boss who spent a year in prison. Or try my book on same, “Thunder on the Mountain: Death at Massey and the Dirty Secrets Behind Big Coal.” I think the hardback is out of print, but paperbacks and EBooks should be available. Or watch the related documentary “Blood on the Mountain” available on Amazon for about $4. Yours truly is a consultant and talking head.

 Please let me know what you recommend in the comments section. Thanks, Peter