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The Great Escape...

Our favorite weatherman goes down swinging... it's the dreaded ick!

You may have noticed that I wasn't here earlier this week.

That's no surprise, if you heard my voice last Friday and then again Monday.

Some people would kill for the deep resonant timber that accompanies a chest cold.

Unfortunately, the sore throat, hacking and coughing fits don't make it worthwhile.

Everyone says that it's been floating around, and several in our newsroom have had bouts with it, but by Monday night, it was pretty obvious that I shouldn't have been at work.

The day off was badly needed, and I napped a lot, worried about work, and wondered who would do the weather.  With a new weather system in place, not too many people have been trained, and I was afraid that a train wreck was coming.

But upon my return, no one admitted to any problems, so either I worry too much, or nobody's talking.

I did take advantage of the time to re-watch a classic WWII adventure film..."The Great Escape", starring Steve McQueen, Richard Attendboro, James Garner, Donald Pleasance, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and a host of others.

This 1963 classic shows the ingenuity of P.O.W.s to out-whit and harass the enemy at a time well before Hogan's Heroes cheapened the concept for the mass audience.

I did a bit of research to acquire the book by Paul Brickhill, some supporting books, a documentary on the excavation of the actual site of the escape tunnels and more.  (In truth, my son is doing a report in history class on the topic, and as a favorite movie, we had watched it in the past.  Now, I assembled some resources that he might need...but that I was using to distract myself on the sick bed.)

I learned some things also.

First, the sand under the camp was BRIGHT yellow, and wouldn't mix nor hide well under the gray topsoil.

Second, Steve McQueen did NOT do that spectacular 60 foot motorcycle jump at the conclusion of the movie.  His riding partner and stunt double did it for him, after he wrecked while attempting it. However, Steve did double and triple duty by riding the pursing motorcycle that is so nimbly operated, and maintains pursuit.   He also laid down the bike that the trip wire catches.  So, through the magic of editing, he steals a bike from himself and then chases himself up to the jump, cuts away, and then lays in the barbwire that is actually just rubber strips tied to other rubber strips to look like barb wire.

Third, the tunnel king Danny is played by Charles Bronson as a claustrophobic digger. In truth, Charles Bronson was a coal miner as a youth, and really does have claustrophobia!

You can learn more by checking out "The Great Escape' by Paul Brickhill, renting the DVD of the movie, or reading wikipedia's entry or the www.IMDB.com entry for the movie.

But for me, it was an all too short break from work.  I'm only half way through the book and can't wait to find out who wins...

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