Monday, August 06, 2007

A Milkman's Tale

Today In Alternate History

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The Announcement

Groggy Alternate Historian Says: The littlest historian has had a rough weekend, involving the escape of fluids and other horrible things from various orifices, so my night was not the most restful. So, Steve will get the whole post today – except for me reminding you to send in your alternate birthdays for me (August 14, 1965) and Steve (November 22, 1967) for our Birthday Contest!

Benny Hill
Benny Hill
In 1973, a royal garden party at Buckingham Palace descended into farce. The comedian Benny Hill had been invited to accept the anachronistic award of Order of the British Empire. Not one to miss an opportunity for mischief, the Duke of Edinburgh asked where his milkman's outfit was.
Whereupon Mr Hill entered the Palace to change into a milkman's outfit and chased the female members of the Royal Family around the grounds of Buckingham Palace. Mary Whitehouse described the scenes as disgraceful. Many felt that perhaps the lady doth protest too much, and the scenes represented a deepest fear, secret fantasy.

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

In 1975, former President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Jimmy Hoffa was startled awake by Frank Sheeran at the two-story house at 17841 Beaverland in Detroit's tough Brightmoor neighborhood.
Jimmy Hoffa
Jimmy Hoffa
Sheeran had some decoration worked planned for the afternoon. Lured to the Beaverland house by Sheeran, Hoffa would have his house "painted" when Sheeran fired two shots into his brain. First though, they had to met the Tralfamadorians; aliens who Kurt Vonngeut had likened to Plumber's friends.
You could say that Hoffa, Sheeran and the Tralfamadorians had divergent perspectives on death.

For relaxation, Jimmy enjoyed boating trips wherein he and friends would chum the waters, shoot sharks with Thompson submachine guns and/or beat sharks to death with nail studded baseball bats.

Sheeran was a professional killer whose conscience was troubled to some degree, forcing an improbably deathbed confession described by former Delaware chief deputy attorney general Charles Brandt in his book "I Heard You Paint Houses".

The Tralfamadorians have the ability to experience reality in four dimensions; meaning, roughly, that they have total recall of both past and future, and they are able to randomly access any part of their lives from birth to death, at will. Able to see along the timeline of the universe, they know the exact time and place of its accidental annihilation by means of a Tralfamadorian experiment, but are powerless to prevent it. Because they believe that when a person dies, he is still alive in another time and place, they reply "So it goes" to news of a death.

Consequently, they are placid in their fatalism. Even though Hoffa would die shortly after the meeting, they knew he was blissfully happy back in 1964 when he had signed the single national freight agreement, a huge breakthrough for the American labour movement. Both were simply points on the same continuum of course.

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

I'm singing in the rain, just singing in the rain
What a glorious feelin', I'm happy again
I'm laughing at clouds, so dark up above
The sun's in my heart and I'm ready for love
Let the stormy clouds chase everyone from the place
Gene KellyCome on with the rain
I've a smile on my face
I walk down the lane
With a happy refrain
Just singin', Singin' in the rain

~ Lyrics to “Singin' in the Rain” - Click to Watch Dance Scene (9mb)
Arguably the most gifted dancer of his generation, Gene Kelly was a lifelong Democratic Party supporter with strong progressive convictions, which frequently created difficulty for him as his heyday coincided with the McCarthy era in the US.

In 1947, he was part of the Hollywood delegation which flew to Washington to protest at the first official hearings by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. His first wife, Betsy Blair, was suspected of being a Communist sympathiser. Under pressure from the American Legion, MGM, withdrew their offer to Blair of a part in Marty (1955). Kelly used his position on the board of directors of The Writer's Guild of America on a number of occasions to mediate disputes between unions and the Hollywood studios, and although he was frequently accused by the Right of championing the unions, he was valued by the studios as an effective mediator.

His high profile status was not without a price though. Most controversially, and partly due to bad timing, Kelly was barred from probably the most popular and admired of all film musicals - Singin' in the Rain (1952). A part that was filled by Fred Astair who brought both dignity and pose to the key piece dance theme, yet may have lacked Kelly's easygoing swagger. In a very real sense, art mirrored reality with the contrasts of the two Americas of the 1950s – Kelly vs. Astair. The lyrics are available at at Stllyrics
~ quotation by Co-Historian Steve Payne from Counter-history – You're the Judge!

In 1944, the Jet Fighters of Oberst Werner Moelders' reinvigorated Luftwaffe delay Operation Overlord long enough for the Kriegsmarine to mine the English Channel. Yet, Moelders was forced to resign - refusing to deny his Catholic faith to Vati. Disgraced, Moelders wonders if his tactical brilliance has led to a strategic blunder - sustaining the Nazi regime that would otherwise have perished.

~ variant from Steve Payne: extensive use of original content has been made to celebrate the author's genius.

In 1930, the journalist Winston Churchill published If Moltke had not won the Battle of the Marne in Scribner's Magazine.

This clever reverse alternative history starts with the memorable lines -

"If [Chief of Staff Helmuth von] Moltke [the Younger] after his triumphal entry into Paris had merely been the soldier, his achievements would have ended on the battlefield. It was his September Declaration... that opened the low roads of despair along which we are now marching so precipitously.".

~ variant from Steve Payne: extensive use of original content has been made to celebrate the author's genius.

In 2009, the TV networks presented episode twenty six of So What If?. Woodrow Wilson rejects Ho Chi Minh's Peace Gambit in 1919. A sanguine Uncle Ho turns to Mahatma Gandhi's teachings as the French Union struggles to suppress non-violent confrontation throughout Indochina.

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

Esperanto Chocky
In 1968, the alien friend known as "Chocky" explained to Matthew Gore why his schoolwork and artistic talent had improved dramatically. Doctor Landis had described it as a "possession", but in fact Chocky's accomodation in Matthew Gore's mind was more symbiotic.
The alien force did not want to destroy the population of earth but instead help it and guide it to the stars. Chocky explained that it was primitive for current generation rocketry
to break free of gravity using brute force. It made more sense to understand the force of XXX (a symbol he was unable to pict in Matthew's mind) and negate gravity rather than fight it with the wasteful power of carbon fuels.

Chocky's race wanted to share this technology with humans. The trouble was powerful groups wished to tap into the amazing fund of knowledge to which Matthew Gore was now party, and what was the value of a little boy's life against such an incalculable prize? Sir William Thorbe at the Home Office was way ahead of these groups, and couldn't wait to get Matthew Gore into a secure unit under Salisbury Plain where the knowledge could be captured and put to the appropriate use.

~ variant entry by Steve Payne: extensive use of original content has been used to celebrate John Wyndham's genius.

Elimina Castle
Elimina Castle
In 1482, to pass the long night of six hundred years at St. George El Mina Castle, Kwame’s brother spoke to him of African Poetry. “We pity you, your country's burning sun is nothing but a shadow, on your serene 'civilized' brow and the thought of your grandmother's hut
Brings blushes to your face that is bleached
By years of humiliation and bad conscience
And while you trample on the bitter red soil of Africa
Let these words of anguish keep time with your restless step.
Oh I am lonely so lonely here.

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

In 1952, on this day 33rd US President Harry S Truman received an unpleasant surprise on the stump. Actually, it was to result in his very salvation. Truman was asked to clarify three points by a particular incisive line of questioning at a Town Hall meeting in California.Harry S Truman
Harry S Truman
a) On what basis would nuclear weapons be used in the future b) Did he not agree that by using nuclear weapons in Asia, he had demonstrated US reluctance to sustain combat casualties that Communist nations would consider acceptable c) In conclusion had he not condemned Asia to interminable lands wars in which American commitment was less than decisive. Privately, Truman regretted his decision to approve the use of nuclear weapons, on the basis of Pandora's Box logic. He had legitimised the use of the super weapon, and should General MacArthur be elected, and not him, then surely massive nuclear action could follow in Korea and Manchuria.

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

In 1917, the magician Grigory Rasputin met with the nest of vampires in Paris. You could say he was triple-dealing. Formally, he was the Tsar's representative for release negotiations for Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich who was being held hostage. Privately, he had collusively arranged the abduction because his agenda also required ..
.. the Peace Conference to announce a Free Vampire State of Transylvania, a condition for the Tsarevich's release. And finally, he had another motive. Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna was looking for an excuse to be turned, and in a moment of bed-chamber weakness, Rasputin had agreed to set-up a pretext for that exigency.

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

In 1945, on this day at 8.15 am B-29 Enola Gay, piloted and commanded by 509th Composite Group commander Colonel Paul Tibbets drops the nuclear bomb “Little Boy” on Hiroshima. Enola Gay turns around to head back to North Field, an airbase on Tinian in the West Pacific. The crew observe a huge mushroom cloud forming .. Hiroshima
.. over the destroyed city. The cloud continues to expand. 250 km off the coast of Japan, the cloud is still expanding in their direction. They radio North Field for further instructions. Inside the deepest recesses of Colonel Paul Tibbets disciplined military mind, the most dreadful suspicion starts to take shape.

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

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