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Archive for May, 2011

Okay, I knew the Nazis were into all sorts of pseudoscience in pursuit of their crazy theories (and just to keep Schiklgruber happy) , but setting up a research institute to teach them to speak (real words, not “arf!”), read, and even read minds?

Science!

The dog school was called the Tier-Sprechschule ASRA and was based near Hanover. Led by headmistress Margarethe Schmitt, it was set up in the 1930s and continued throughout the war years.

Rolf, an Airedale terrier, reportedly ‘spoke’ by tapping his paw against a board, each letter of the alphabet being represented by a certain number of taps. He was said to have speculated about religion, learnt foreign languages, written poetry and asked a visiting noblewoman: ‘Could you wag your tail?’

The patriotic dog even expressed a wish to join the army – because he disliked the French.

A Dachshund named Kurwenal was said to speak using a different number of barks for each letter, and told his biographer he would be voting for Hindenburg.

And a German pointer named Don imitated a human voice to bark: ‘Hungry! Give me cakes.’

Dr Bondeson, whose book Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet Of Canine Curiosities is out now, said: ‘It is absolutely extraordinary stuff.

‘There were some very strange experiments going on in wartime Germany, with regard to dog-human communication.’

That last, I think, qualifies as an understatement.

Of course, it would explain that air of dictatorial authority our dogs exhibited whenever they wanted a cookie. Hmmm…

And while this is yet another example of a what a bunch of fruitcakes the Nazis were*, it’s also marvelous material for a “weird alternate history” roleplaying game. Not that I’ve ever considered such a thing

Click through for more Nazi weirdness.

*Albeit, armed, sociopathic, and extremely dangerous fruitcakes.

h/t Moe Lane

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Dana Delaney as "Megan Hunt"

A couple of months ago, I reviewed ABC’s “Body of Proof,” a series starring Dana Delaney as “Megan Hunt,” a female Quincy — a Medical Examiner who solves crimes. Back then, I wasn’t impressed and didn’t think the show had much of a chance.

Well, continuing my hot streak* of guessing which shows will make it and which won’t,  I read this morning that BoP has been renewed:

Debuting very late in the season, on March 29th, the premiere of Body of Proof attracted a 3.1 rating in the all-important 18-49 demographic and 13.94 million viewers. The demo number’s not great but overall viewership is very strong, an indication that the series skews older and is a good match for Dancing with the Stars.

ABC aired the second episode on the following Sunday, likely to try to entice viewers who remember Delany from her Desperate Housewives** days to give it a try. Most weren’t interested and it scored only a 2.0 demo rating and 8.94 million.

The following Tuesday, episode three attracted a 2.4 rating and 11.15 million viewers, a loss of 23% in the demo when compared to the premiere. Subsequent episodes have fallen down to a 2.0 rating. The overall viewership has remained strong however, still pulling in 11 million viewers.

Hollywood worships the 18-49 demographic, to the point that any weakness there usually spells doom for a show. In this case, as the article notes, the overall strength of BoP’s numbers outside that demographic may have combined with the poor performance of the rest of ABC’s lineup of new dramas to give it a second chance — because the network didn’t have much else.

I’m still not impressed with the series, as I wrote in a comment at the site. (Awaiting moderation.) The mysteries are so-so, and the dialog, for example in last week’s episode, is cliché and predictable. Like the article’s author, I don’t expect a season three unless the numbers improve***.

Regardless, congratulations to the cast and crew for the renewal.

*I was wrong about Rizzoli and Isles, too, though the cynic in me thinks that its success is due to the subtext of sexual tension between the two leads, played by Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.

**I never knew she was and Desperate Housewives; I remember her from China Beach. I’m getting old…

***Passing question: Why is this show at 10PM? That’s usually the “adult hour” in network programming, with grimmer, more graphic stories told after the kiddies have gone to bed. What’s so grim and adult about this show? The occasional shot of a fake corpse or meat pretending to be a human body part? It sure isn’t the lightweight stories or situations.

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