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Tag Archives: London

In London.

12 Jul

July 12, 2014

It was a not-so-rare night in the city. Dark and cloudy, no moon, no stars.

And no houselights, gas lights, or headlights.

This was London. It was World War II. And Lt. Russ Wyndham was being followed.

The man tailing Wyndham wasn’t doing too good a job at it. Even in the near-total blackness, he did such a poor job of hiding that Wyndham couldn’t help but be aware of him, and the noise he made gave him away with nearly every footstep.

Lt. Wyndham wasn’t expecting to be followed and didn’t know what to do. He was just over from the US, attached to military intelligence more because of family connections than any skill or capability. Pearl Harbor had just been attacked and Wyndham had enlisted, not out of any sense of patriotism or duty, but because he smelled the chance to get away from a messy affair with a married woman and an unwanted baby. His family was rich enough, and thoroughly arrogant enough, that if their youngest scion had to ditch his lover and illegitimate child, they’d be damned if he was going to do it as some enlisted grunt digging ditches.

Wyndham’s tail knocked over a garbage can, and the noise was so loud that, against wartime regulations, several blackout curtains were pulled aside, flooding the street with light as nervous men and women looked out to see what was going on. Wyndham could no longer pretend to be unaware of the tail, especially as the short and somewhat fat man following him was now illuminated from nearly all directions.

Both men were panicked. In Wyndham the panic manifested as paralysis. He didn’t know what to do, where to go, what to do, to run, to hide, to run to panic to scream to hide to yell to cry to-

The other man’s panic caused him to stand in his spot as well, but he was shaking, oh how was he shaking, he was afraid, so afraid, so very afraid of the man in the uniform ahead of him, what’s he going to do he’s seen me he’s looking at me why are all these people looking at me why can’t they shut the windows I could hide in the dark I’m afraid of the man afraid of the man afraid of the man with the gun the gun the gun he pulled a gun and-

-and in full view of the exactly six witnesses peeking around the curtains, the man who would one day have “Private Investigator” printed on his office window  fired a gun for the first time outside of basic training and murdered a man.

It would be many years before Hollywood Russell knew why he was being followed, but in only a few days Lt. Russ Wyndham would face a court-martial.

in London

 

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Tired of Traveling? Fly Teddy Bear Air! (Classic I Didn’t Finish Today’s Blog Repost)

17 Aug

August 17, 2013

treasure chest logo
I meant to have a new blog today, I really did. I started it and everything, even took a pair of pictures for it. But it isn’t finished. Look for it later this week, featuring some Universal Monster toys. In the meanwhile, while this technically about toys, it is about a service for toys so it counts. My football my rules.

from August 20, 2010

I consider myself reasonably well-traveled. In the States, I’ve been to Las Vegas, Chicago, Atlantic City, San Diego, Boston, Houston, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Orlando, and of course my hometown of New York, not to mention smaller destinations up and down the East Coast including a bunch of places in New Jersey better left unmentioned. Outside the U.S.A., I’ve been to London, Paris, and Edinburgh.

I’ve taken thousands of pictures. When I went to London, the digital era hadn’t quite hit and my uncle, who worked for Fuji Film, hooked me up with 35 rolls of film which I packed in my carry on. I didn’t realize that the carry on would have to go through an x-ray machine, and I was terrified that it would ruin all that film. This was pre-9/11, but just my luck, JFK had an attempted hijacking that morning, so when I barely opened my mouth to take a breath so that I might start forming the idea to argue with the guy behind the scanner, three guards with rifles took a step towards me, so I shut up fast and put the bag in the machine.

The guy running the scanner told me that modern x-ray machines were lower strength than older ones so my film would be fine. I didn’t believe him. I spent eight hours on the plane worried that I would have to buy more film. I got off the plane at Heathrow where I had to put the film through a second x-ray scan and, surer than ever I ruined the film, asked no one less than the pilot of my plane (!) about the film, and he assured me that in all his travels, he has never had a single roll of film ruined by a scanner. I was reassured, somewhat, but of course that fact that as a British pilot he was most likely half drunk at any given time didn’t give me total satisfaction.

On the way home, with the 35 rolls full of pictures, and another 15 that I bought in England (yes, in two weeks I shot fifty rolls of film) the already twice-x-rayed film was scanned again at Heathrow, again at LaGuardia, and you know what? It was fine. I got some great pictures. (Had the film come out all over-exposed I would not be sane enough to type this blog.)

Of course, I do have some regrets about my vacation shots.

I know what you’re thinking: I took no shots whatsoever of any teddy bears or stuffed animals.

From Germany, http://www.thelocal.de/society/20100805-28975.html

Cologne woman hits plush pay dirt with tours for teddy bears

Even stuffed animals need a holiday every now and then, according to a Cologne woman who runs a travel agency catering exclusively to teddy bears and other plush toy friends.

“I’m full of old cotton and sweat socks!”

“It sounds crazy to many,” said trained retail saleswoman Ulrike Böhmler, admitting that she has always had a certain affection for stuffed animals.

She still has her first stuffed bear, a gift from her grandmother worn ragged by 35 years of cuddling. For some people, such plush toys remain a sentimental object for an entire lifetime, she says.

This kind of love inspired the mother of two to start her own business three years ago when she suddenly found herself unemployed.

“Back then I said in jest that I would offer teddy bear tours if I couldn’t find anything,” she said, explaining that a friend in Munich had put her up to the idea.

But the joke turned into reality and she founded “Teddy-In,” which now offers trips for toys to Hamburg, Munich, Barcelona, Rome and even Romania where the animals can follow Dracula’s fictional footsteps.

Customers book via email or letter, then ship their stuffed animal to Böhmler, who says it can be “comical” when some boxes arrive with air holes punched into cartons for the inanimate toys. She then guides the toy on its holiday tour, taking photographs along the way.

When they return the animals are sent back to their owners refreshed and with a set of vacation photos to share.

“For many it’s a very original gift idea,” said Karsten Morschett from Teddy Tour Berlin. “Lots of people can no longer take trips on their own due to health problems and send their teddy on holiday instead.”

If I have serious health problems and cannot travel, I wonder if I will really be concerned that my Boo Boo Bear enjoyed the Riviera?

It makes sense though, in a stupid sort of way. The stuffed animal is an avatar, same as you have online. You can visit Copenhagen virtually on your computer, or through your old Bert and Ernie dolls. And this way, you have some really strange, fetishy pictures to show for it.

And seriously, who wouldn’t want a set of photos featuring Sesame Street’s Count von Count touring Dracula’s Castle? I mean besides me.

Stuffed doll: $25. Tour of Romania: $1,500. Pictures of your stuffed animal on vacation while you stay home watching Jerry Springer: Priceless. And stupid. Get off your butt and take a trip yourself!

One word of caution.

While they will happily take stuffed animals, teddy bears, and plushies on vacation, furries are not welcome.

“Why won’t anybody play with me?”

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