A lot of snow out there. I prefer it to the extreme cold, but still, it gets to one. This little kid agrees. I love his sighs of exhaustion. And I think “probably people I even don’t know,” is about the greatest thing I’ve heard in quite a while.

New Anne Frank Theory

I watched with interest the 60 Minutes segment about Anne Frank last Sunday. It was an investigation into finding out exactly who betrayed Anne Frank and the others hiding with her in the famous annex in Amsterdam. The researchers behind the quest came to a conclusion that, as this article says, seems full of conjecture and lacking in certainty and factual foundation, rather than the opposite.

“They came up with new information that needs to be investigated further, but there’s absolutely no basis for a conclusion,” said Ronald Leopold, the Anne Frank House’s executive director. He added that the museum would not be presenting the findings as fact, but perhaps as one of several theories, including others that have been considered over the years.

I am not opposed to speculation in these matters – sometimes, considered and educated guesses are all we have. But presenting it as something other than that is dangerous.

Lovely Reader Comment About my Book

I received a terrific message from the son of one of Norman’s fellow soldiers – his batman, actually.

I have stood at your uncle’s grave quite often. I spent a year in Paris as a student 1978-79 at the University of Paris 1 (Panthéon Sorbonne).

That year my dad and mom came over to Paris for a week to visit. We drove to the Normandy beaches, and we visited the Canadian War Cemetery at Bretteville-Cintheaux.

Dad, mom, and I stood at your uncle’s grave for the first time. Prior to driving back to Paris, I inquired of Dad as to where (location) he was wounded. After some searching, we found the Ferme Saint-Hilaire and Hill 195. We walked up hill 195.We were able to pinpoint the location of the 88 shell that exploded and killed your uncle and wounded my father to within approximately 100 feet…Each time we travel to the farm, we stop at the cemetery and look at your uncle’s grave. My dad was his batman and the platoon runner. My father thought very highly of Lt Christopherson.

I commend you for your effort at publishing your uncle’s letters. They are witness to what life was like in those very difficult and trying circumstances.

It means so much to me to have received this email.

Yet Another Tribute to a Dead Celeb: Monkee Edition

This is my third dead celebrity post in a day! Sad. Still, I can’t not mention Mike Nesmith, who died before Christmas. “After school” for kids in the 1970s meant the following: the hours of 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. spent plunked down in front of the television watching reruns of the Monkees, Get Smart, Bewitched and the Brady Bunch. It was a couple of hours of bliss before the nightmare of my bullying older brother and/or the turmoil of dealing with my parents’ troubled marriage began. Nesmith was a very talented musician (whose mother invented liquid paper – I gather his creative gene came from her) and after his death I went down memory lane online listening to old and familiar songs. Interestingly, I discovered a song I had not heard before that I’d like to share here. He is in a duet with fellow Monkee Mickey Dolenz and it is just lovely. The harmonies! The lyrics (though I don’t think he wrote the song). So sweet.

Sidney Poitier

One of the ironies of the great actor‘s death is how so many progressives/leftists are posting to their social media this late-1960s interview, in which Poitier expresses frustration with the fact that the media are only asking him questions about his race. They are posting it as a criticism – as in, “How terrible! He was not viewed as a man, but only as a black man!” – seemingly unaware of the fact that they only ever want people to talk about their race.

Poitier was indeed the first black actor to win an Oscar, and there is nothing wrong with remembering that about him. Above all, though, he was an actor and for a time, a huge box office draw. In 1967 alone he made three extraordinary movies – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, To Sir with Love and In the Heat of the Night. I adore the first two, of course, but I want to focus on In the Heat of the Night: it was certainly Rod Steiger’s best role, but it is the last scene of the movie that, for me, is most noteworthy. Imagine the same film made in today’s climate – the ending would include either a grovelling apology from Steiger about the wrongness of his ways, or an acknowledgement of his white privilege, or a hug between the two men, or all of the above. Now watch this scene – that wonderful “You take care. You hear?” The smiles from Poitier and Steiger. Real respect has developed. And so perfectly acted.

Betty White

What can I add to all of the tributes? An animal advocate, a World War II volunteer, a talented comedienne – it has all been said these past ten days. I, of course, first really saw her when I was a kid watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show with my mother. I watched it again in reruns…and again…and again. I must have encyclopaedic knowledge of the show. I also loved The Golden Girls as did my parents. My father took to nicknaming my mother “Rose,” as the absurd and lengthy stories she told over the years – filled with Norwegian names, all preposterous – were so like Rose’s St. Olaf stories on the series. Hard to choose a preferred Betty White moment, but this comes close – two brilliant performers combined with great writing. Enjoy, and RIP, Betty.


January 6 is always a bittersweet day for me. There’s still an element of post-Christmas letdown, especially since this is the day I take down all of our decorations. I’m a traditionalist: Christmas decor goes up the first Sunday of Advent and comes down on Epiphany. So there’s that to bring on some blues. And, of course, it is also my oldest brother’s birthday – he would be 73 today. Always missed. I can hear him saying, “Rondi, enough with your post-holidays lollygagging! Get on with it.”

So yeah, I’m going to try.

Llwyn On: The Ash Grove

I watched How Green was my Valley last night, and, of course, went through about fourteen boxes of Kleenex. Music is such a big part of that film and while I love “Men of Harlech” and “Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer,” I think my favourite musical moment in HGWMV is the Welsh version of “The Ash Grove.” It is sung by the townspeople as Ivor and Bronwyn leave the church after their wedding. Here is a version from Thomas L. Thomas, the Welsh baritone.