Photo Flick: Tribute to Queen Elizabeth II – Part 1

Painting by Andy Warhol in 1985


Many artists have portrayed Queen Elizabeth II over the years, with various forms of artwork, including photos, paintings and even comics. Some of them will be displayed in this series paying tribute to Her Majesty.

One of more common artwork created of the Queen was a painting done by Andy Warhol (1928- 1987). A native of Pittsburgh, Warhol was a widely acclaimed artist whose pop art is still popular to this day. This depiction of the Queen was created in 1985, on the eve of her 35th anniversary. It was a photo of Her Majesty that was presented in many shades of red in the background. It was an unusual work of art but one where Warhol later mentioned that she had a passion for him and his art. The work has since been a highly controversial piece that has been talked about among artists and historians alike. Some believe her portrait was typical of Warhol. Others criticized it as a way of desecrating Her Majesty. Nevertheless, the piece has become one of the most popular of all the artwork done that portrayed the Queen.

There are other photos and artwork done during the Queen’s reign that became popular upon release and are considered candidates for a collage containing the best of the Queen. You can read more about it in the link below:

How Artists portrayed the Queen during her reign (CNN):



Life Punishes Those Who Wait: Mikhail Gorbachev and the Reason for Changing the European Stereotype- An Author’s Obituary.

Source: RIA Novosti archive, image #29280 / Yuriy Somov (photo processing: Roman Kubanskiy) / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Prior to arriving to Germany to live there for the first time, there was this stereotype that was spread around at my alma mater in Moorhead, MN which stated: If there is Germany, there are three things that go together: Beer, Bavaria and Hitler. Even my German wife, who was an exchange student at my college, received a not so pleasant stereotype when she was introduced at the student orientation: „Don’t Germans have brown hair and a mustache?“

Very nice huh? On the same level as if a person was to ask me „Don’t you Americans have long curly blond hair with a long mustache and love to slaughter dark-skinned people?“ At that point, I would have smacked that person for calling me Custer! After all, he would have been as big of a fool as George Custer’s fool-hardy attempts at wiping out the Natives at Big Horn in 1876, only to be met with his own death.

Enough with the analogy. Yes we were taught the German stereotype in high school which was over 30 years ago. That stereotype would most likely have been brought up today had it not been for the man who opened the door to the rest of the world- namely, Mikhail Gorbachev. 

When I came to Germany in 1999, I had my insights on the events of 1989 and it was my top interest in knowing about the events that happened the same time as we were saying Good-bye to a very prosperous and innovative 1980s. We had Reagan and the Berlin Wall. And contrary to my Dad’s arguments when I was a kid, there was indeed a wall that cut Germany into half. There was no other news event that was as interesting to watch as the Berlin Wall and America’s creative attempts to „Open the Gate!“ as Reagan would say it bluntly during his speech in West Berlin. But it was Gorbachev that led the way to making this happen and it was my duty to find out why. So here’s my interpretation of why he did what was necessary.


Central and Eastern Europe before Gorbachev

We have to understand the state of the countries in Central and Eastern Europe when we want to talk about Gorbachev (or what many call as his nickname Gorbi). After World War II was over and Germany was divided, communism under Stalin spread rapidly across the continent engulfing every country in its path. Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, the Baltic States and Yugoslavia fell when the Communist regimes took over. Germany was divided up by the Allies and the Soviet zone became East Germany by 1949. The governments put in place were conditioned to rule using the idea of Marxism and Leninism. Businesses were confiscated and nationalized. Private property was seized. Resources were exploited. The education system was laden with the idea of Communism. The lives of many were negatively impacted by a new form of fascism but with a Stalinist face. While the line was drawn by the US by supporting the ideas of democracy and capitalism with financial and military resources to defend and protect the rest of Europe, the people living behind the Iron Curtain also fought to changes and protested against the Communist governments. These were crushed and new measures were put into place to ensure that no further protests would happen, as well as any escape attempts. Hence the Berlin Wall in 1961 and the closure of the East-West Border, cutting Germany in half and creating borders between Austria and Hungary, just to name two big examples.

The scars were obvious come time of Gorbachev when he took over as President of the Soviet Union in 1985. Poland had just had its revolution put down three years earlier- for them it was their second time. Czechoslovakia was still reeling from its Prague Spring of 1968, and East Germany already had a well-established State Security Police in place, infiltrating groups of protesters and those wanting to escape over the border. Life in the East was miserable, and so was the Soviet Union which had overexploited its resources and whose economic system was wearing itself down thanks to years of government-based economics combined with nationalized industries that were running short on materials for products. The Soviet Union, for the most part, was overextended and needed reforms. Hence the two most commonly words to describe Gorbachev’s Presidency: Perestroika and Glastnost- the former for reforming the Soviet economy, the latter is openness and freedom of information. The second aforementioned policy was the fuel, the spark came when Poland voted on a new government in 1989, thus starting the process of the Revolution.


“Die Wende” 1989 and Gorbachev

Let’s look at the title of my article, “Life Punishes Those Who Wait.” These were the comments that Gorbachev made to Erich Honecker, who was governing East Germany during the time of the revolution, during the ceremony commemorating the 40th anniversary of East Germany on October 7th. The Revolution of 1989 was like the Great Floods. When one country starts, others follow and not even the strongest dam can hold the rushing waters with such high pressure and intensity. Gorbachev’s Glastnost policy- the policy of openness- implied that it was time to admit that things were going badly and it was time for a change. When Poland succeeded with electing a new democratic government, it allowed for other Communist governments to consider alternatives instead of its business as usual approach. With Hungary and Austria opening its borders for the first time since 1949, it provided the best escape route for many in East Germany who wanted to flee the repressive government. Despite all attempts to stop the flow on Honecker’s part, the floodwaters were starting to undermine the dam. Protests within the country followed. Honecker’s removal from power on October 17th combined with the Fall of the Wall on 9 November 1989 was the dam that finally collapsed.  Gorbachev’s policies allowed the countries to go their own way if they preferred to do so. It was like the door opening up for the first time in years and the people trapped inside saw the chance to leave right in front of them. No resistance unlike the previous Soviet regimes, but the green light to finally leave for a new life. Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and Albania followed. Yet the process also marked the end of the Soviet Union, as many Soviet republics, including Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Georgia also followed. In the eyes of many Russians and those who allied with Putin, Brezhnev and all, it was a big mistake which is trying to be corrected, but with no avail. But for many countries who had been conquered and reconquered, it was a sense of freedom and renewal of their own culture identities that greeted them when Gorbachev allowed them to leave.  But his biggest achievement was yet to come and was the reason behind my change in German stereotype and interest in German history.


German Reunification

German reunification was perhaps Gorbachev’s biggest achievement as Soviet president. While it was justified that Germany was a divided country on the count of its defeat in World War II, being divided did not necessarily mean having two Germanys where families and friends were torn apart by two Walls- the one in Berlin and the one that cut Germany into two for 28 years. Gorbachev was a man of compromise when it came to Germany being reunited. He was lukewarm at the prospect of a rapid reunification, but he accepted it because of the interest among the population on both sides. He had many ideas, mainly based on the concern that a big Germany may be a threat to Europe. But he understood that the only way Germany can exist as a whole country would be if it was member of NATO and later the European Union, thus making the country one of the key contributors to the organization. Gorbachev was a man that worked with the US, Britain and France to ensure that a united Germany is something that was in the best interest of its people and the rest of Europe. He was a dealer with a plan but was also a man of compromise, keeping in mind the benefits and drawbacks to reuniting a country after 45 years of being separated.  When we think of October 3rd, we not only think about a united Germany as a federal republic, we also think of it as the one in Gorbachev’s making because of his willingness to listen to the needs of the country’s residents as well as the allies. Many people in Germany have their thanks for his policies and for paving the way to a Germany that was united.


Germany Today Thanks to Gorbachev

When we now think of Germany today, we think of the following: Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig and the Baltic Sea. This goes in addition to the earlier stereotypes I had mentioned. We also look at the other items that are typical for the country, like book fairs, Autobahn, high-speed trains, but also the mountain regions in the central and east, plus the green heart of Germany in Thuringia. All of these places would not have been mentioned had it been for the Berlin Wall and East Germany, which Honecker vowed to have standing for another century but whose life was cut short with the reunification of Germany on October 3rd, 1990. We still see a lot of relicts of the former Wall and its checkpoints and former East-West border when we travel through Germany; many of these places have been converted into museums, while a hiking trail along the former German border exists. All of them serve as a reminder of what Germany is like now compared to the time of two Germanys and two Berlins.  The one variant I find bittersweet is family. Germany values family and friends as the most important trait. It was taken away from them during World War II and afterwards the Cold War. It was brought back together thanks to Gorbachev’s efforts in allowing East and West to reunite through Glastnost. He is still a key figure and the reason why Germany exists as it is today. So when we look at his statement “Life punishes those who wait,” we look at it as symbolic as the people who were held hostage behind the Iron Curtain were allowed to flee and create their own livelihood. We also look at it as a correction to the German stereotype as there is more to Germany now than it was before 1989. Many of us have come to recognize this and have looked at Germany from different eyes. I have as well, for there is more to the country than we think. My first interest was the Berlin Wall, Gorbachev and 1989. Since my arrival in 1999, there is a lot more to see and to write about.

Vielen Dank, Gorbi. Jetzt darfst du in deinen höchstverdienten Frieden ruhen. ❤


Dead Ringer for Love- A Tribute to Meat Loaf

Today we lost a rock legend. Meat Loaf (Marvin Lee Aday) died at his home with his wife at his side. He was 74. Meat Loaf had a storied career as a singer and an actor, having released several albums in the 1970s, 80s and early 1990s. This included a three-part album Bat out of Hell. We knew him for one of his best songs, “I’d do Anything for Love,” which was released in 1993 and received many international accolades. Yet Meat Loaf was known for his Casanova and Gothic attire in his appearance and his music was used for several different occasions. One of my favorites is a duet he did with the singer Cher, entitled Dead Ringer for Love, released in 1981. It’s a perfect dance song with a spice of romance in there, and it’s one that ranks up there with the very best. Therefore, the Files is paying tribute to the Ringer and his work with this song as a way of giving thanks for his years of work. Rock on, Ringer!

Genre of the Week: Three and a Half Hours

Probstzella: The memorial using the remains of the border control building. The train station complex is in the background. Photo taken in 2010


This week’s Genre of the Week is in connection with the 60th Anniversary of the Construction of the Berlin Wall. On August 13th, 1961, the East German government sealed off the border with its western neighbor, West Germany- first by constructing the Berlin Wall, a 155-kilometer long wall that encompassed all of West Berlin. In addition, the border was fenced off and walled from a point east of Lübeck, going south then east before terminating at the border with Czechoslovakia, located east of Hof. It separated the eastern states with the like of Shcleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony, Hesse and Bavaria. The walls remained for 28 years until the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November, 1989 and the reopening of the border along the state borders days later.  While Germany has remained a unified country for 30 years, the scars of the divided Germany, which started after the capitulation of the Nazis on 7 May, 1945 still remains and serves as a reminder that events like this must never be repeated anywhere.

The next genre I’m presenting is a book that I’m reading at present but one that has been converted into a film, which one can (and should also) see when talking about the Berlin Wall.  Three and a Half Hours (German: Dreieinhalb Stunden) is a historic fictional book that has its roots to those who were in fact forced to decide between East and West, capitalism and socialism, freedom and supervision. The idea came from author Robert Krause, whose grandparents and parents both were caught in that line of fire on 13 August, 1961. Krause (*1970), who originates from Dresden, mentioned that his grandparents had traveled on that day when the border closed, his father was with a friend in West Berlin.  It looks at a situation which can be used in a classroom on history, German or other classes that focuses on governments, foreign languages and culture in a form of “Make a Decision:”

Imagine this situation: You are traveling on an Interzone Train from Munich to Berlin on 13 August, 1961 and you learn that the border between East and West Germany would be closed off to ensure that no one flees the Communist state. If you have three and a half hours time, before crossing the border at Probstzella, and you had a choice between entering East Germany or staying in West Germany, what would you do?

Keep in mind that you have a residence in the East and you wish to return there.


The book and the film have a set of characters that want to travel to East Germany because they either have homes there, have concerts there, want to escape the laws in Bavaria in two cases or in one case, want to return one’s remains home because that person died in Munich. At the train station in Probstzella, a train conductor, who falls in love with a camera person from DEFA in East Berlin, also is faced with a difficult decision. Each character has his/her past and ideas behind their decision.  The book has a lot of suspense especially when the passengers learn of the construction of the Wall and the closing of the border, which amps up the temperatures of each of the characters for the decision they make would be the one they have to live with for a long time- even for the rest of their lives.  The pages go by as fast as the characters who are face with the decisions, which makes sense to divide up the chapters based on each of the affected characters. One by one, the puzzles fall into place, yet the decision impacts families, friendships and lastly, their futures.

The book was converted into film in 2020 and both have received a mixture of praise and criticism. Krause is considered a great storyteller and placed emphasis on history based on personal experience, while getting the readers involved in the suspense. He himself escaped to the West at the age of 19 to start a new life in Munich, so some of the stories he collected as a child can be related to what happened. It opens the wounds of the past to find out the motives behind people making the most important decision of their lives, and the construction of the Wall served as that testament to deciding between the continuation of their normal lives and starting a new life.


Photo by Raka Miftah on


It brings up a game which teachers and students can put together based on this story. It’s called Stay or Go.  You need different colors of pens as well as different colors of index cards, preferably the smallest available. Then you do the following:

  • Divide the index cards up by colors into the different categories that should read the following: The Characters, Their Lifestyle, Their Career, Their Family Status, Their Satisfaction with their Lives, Their Motives for being in West Germany, and Their Motives for being in East Germany.
  • Minus the characters in the story, for each category, make as many points as possible. They don’t have to be stuck solely on the book or film themselves but one can add some points from their own ideas and thoughts. Please make sure a color is assigned to each category.
  • Each participant is assigned a character.
  • The participant must choose from each category one card. The cards in each category can be stacked or mixed in a pile.
  • As soon as the participant chooses each card from all of the categories, he/she must decide whether crossing the border would make sense, keeping in mind the following points:
  1. If you go from West to East, you may not be able to escape back into West again
  2. If you go from East to West, you face the risk of getting arrested or shot
  3. The conditions of both East and West Germany must be mentioned prior to playing the game, both as positive as well as negative aspects
  4. You must provide reasons for your decision. This can be done in a short presentation.

The game can be played in small groups but also in classroom size where the teacher can make a buffet of categories and students can choose one from each category on the buffet.  

This game not only helps a person better understand the history of Germany during that time but also provides a chance to discuss with others regardless of which foreign language you use.

The book and the film, based on the events that happened 60 years ago, serves as a remembrance of the events that must not be forgotten. Many of us have a tendency of forgetting about history before it’s repeated again somewhere else. Yet such stories exist because we want to remember the events and share them with the next generation for them to understand. Three and a Half Hours is one of those books turned films that fulfills that purpose and then some.


The border station Probstzella at the Thuringian-Bavarian border is in one of the stories and you can read up on my visit there by clicking here. The border station was shut down on December 12th 1961 and remained closed until 1989, thus forcing trains to cross into the West through Gutenfürst near Hof.


A Tribute to Aschenbrödel (Cinderella)

Photo by Pixabay on


Every year at Christmas, families in Europe take a couple hours to watch a classic fairy tale, based loosely on the works of the Grimm Brothers. Three Wishes (or Nuts or Gifts) for Cinderella (Drei Haselnüsse für Aschenbrödel) was a film jointly produced by East Germany and Czechoslovakia. Released in 1973, the plot of the film runs similar to the original works of Cinderella that has been produced in many versions, each having a different place of scenery. In this case, the main character finds three hazelnuts and wishes for different attire to attract and capture the love of a prince. Much of the film took place in the winter time and in a village in the forest, with the prince having his home in the castle, with a laid-back queen and a traditionally oriented but also understandable king. To give you an idea what the film looks like:

Much of the filming took place in the forests of Bohemia in Czechoslovakia, yet the Moritzburg Castle near Dresden was used for the festivities of the royalty. The castle has hosted an exhibit dedicated to this film at Christmas time.

The film marked the rise of a Czech star, whom we’re paying tribute to in this post. Libuše Šafránková was 20 years old when she accepted the offer to play the main character. She was a young, beautiful woman with a promising future in show business. She had joined the Prague Theater club in 1972 after having grown up in Brno (Brunn). After actress Jana Preissová had declined the role due to pregnancy, Šafránková accepted the role of the shy but clever character, who endured ridicule of her step-mother and sister, but found a beautiful prince and lured him through riddles and trifles- that is until the shoe fit and the main character won her prize. Šafránková provided the character with one with an open heart despite being underappreciated, opportunities to thwart her step-sister’s attempts to win the prince despite the oppression endured, and some trickeries and laughs despite being looked down upon by her adversaries.  Her character made her a star for Czechoslovakia and East Germany as the film debuted on both sides of the German border. After the film was released in Czechoslovakia in 1973, it debuted in East Germany the following March; in West Germany nine months later, and by 1976, the film became an international hit in Europe, Canada and the USA.

Šafránková became the face of Czechoslovakia, having starred in as many as 24 films in the next 20 years until the Velvet Divorce between the Czechs and the Slovaks in 1993. It included two more films that starred her and the prince from the 1973 film, Pavel Trávníček entitled the Salt Prince and the Third Prince, both released in 1982. The Prince and the Evening Star (1979) and My Sweet Little Village (1985) belonged to her bests.  She won the Czech Lion Award for one film in 1996 and the Star of my Heart Award in 2008 for her work.

Šafránková married fellow actor Josef Abrhám and withdrew from the stage beginning in the 1990s to have a family of her own. Together they had one son. Her last film was in 2013. On June 9, 2021, Šafránková died as a result of lung cancer, the illness she had fought for a decade, resulting in losing 20% of her lungs through operations and treatment. She was 68. Her passing has been a shock to both Czechia and Germany because of her popularity as an actress as well as a person. When people talk about her, the first film that will come to mind is the first one she starred in, the one where she played Aschenbrödel who rose from adversity and used her beauty and wit to win the heart of her big love, the prince. It’s not only the film that made her a celebrity, it’s a film which provides hope during a season that is of perpetual hope, which is Christmas. Three Wishes for Cinderella is one of the films that is a must-see during the holidays, and this holiday season will be even more special because the film will honor that girl who found her way to a boy’s heart.

And this kind of love makes a person a legend.  Rest in Peace, Aschenbrödel. We love you too. ❤


A Tribute to Eddie Van Halen

Photo taken in 2016 by Aneau-Nyme for WikiCommons

Growing up in rural Minnesota,  we had our own taste for music. Many of us loved listening to bass and rap music, with the car stereo blasting in the backseat making the back windows rattle. Other people prefer organ music in the church where the music would bring Jesus Christ down to Earth with the guitar to smack the player across the head with it. Some love singing and playing to the likes of Bach and Beethoven, with ballet dancers twirling across the stage.  We were a region with multi-cultural talents and tolerated each others‘ taste of music.

Then there is heavy metal. If there is one person that comes to mind at first, it’s Eddie Van Halen. The first song, which should also be a title song for a TV show: Hot for Teacher.

Born in 1955 in the Netherlands, Eddie, together with his older brother Alex, started their music career in California in 1972, but their major breakthrough came with the creation of the rock music group Van Halen in 1974, with David Lee Roth as lead singer and Mark Stone as bass. Their first album was released in 1978 and with Roth at the helm, the band had released seven albums including ist last one in 2012. Roth left the band in 1985 and was replaced with Sammy Hagar. Under Hagar, four more albums were released before he left in 1996. Gary Cherome was with the band for two years and only one album was produced. Despite the changes in lead singers, the band remained in tact.

Unique about Eddie was his signature music style with the electric guitar, known as tapping. Invented by Steve Hackett, Eddie innovated the technique which uses both hands on the neck of the guitar. It includes the use of the flip-out support device which he invented and patented. Eddie was also an inventor on three patents related to guitars: a folding prop to support a guitar in a flat position a tension-adjusting tailpiece, and an ornamental design for a headstock, all of which were useful for his continued innovation of the tapping technique. Here are some samples of his signature techniques:

Together with his brother’s use of the brown sound with the use of the snare drums and other percussion, Eddie’s techniques made for some spectacular pieces which put him into the top 10 of best guitarist and Van Halen into the top 10 of the best American rock music bands of all time. Here are my top ten pieces performed by Eddie:

If one wants a good dose of wake-up and go that has nothing to do with caffine, one should listen to Eddie. He was a great source of inspiration for all guitarists and rock music bands both in the US and internationally. It helped Angus Young from AC-DC create his own signature style of play. It helped bands like Metallica and KISS, as well as singers like  Michael Jackson and LL Cool J enrich their careers and their talents. It was also a focus of several movies where he was featured even in cameo.  If there was one word to describe Eddie, it is that he was the Innovator of Heavy Metal, one who will be in the books, even as the band Van Halen has been inducted into the Hall of Fame since 2007.

Sadly, like the day music died in 1959 with the deaths of Buddy HollyRitchie Valens, and “The Big Bopper” J. P. Richardson in a plane crash just outside Clear Lake, Iowa, yesterday, October 6th 2020 was the day that heavy metal music died. Eddie Van Halen succumbed to throat cancer. He was 65 and is survived by his brother Alex, his son bassist Wolfgang (with his first wife, Valerie Bertinelli) as well as his second wife, Janie (Liszewski). Eddie was a legend of his time and a source of inspiration for all musicians, yet his style will never be replaced. I enjoyed listening to Van Halen during my youth and despite some frowns and heckles from the rap and bassist music lovers. I can say that if there is one person who really did innovate the way we create and produce musical pieces, Eddie would be on top of the list. No matter what kind of music genre is played, there would be an innovator like Eddie that could spice it up and make the piece great to listen to. He will forever be remembered for his works and his music shall play on for generations to come.

I highly doubt heavy metal will ever be the same. Rock on Eddie, wherever you are.  

Photo Flick Nr. 27

John Lewis

Honoring civil rights activist and Congressman John Lewis, this photo flick says it all. Courtesy of Sean Schwab and located in Atlanta Georgia, it depicts the senator who left his mark for his moving speeches which promoted equal rights for all and not for the significant few. As issues involving discrimination among blacks has reached its boiling point after the death of George Floyd, we need more of John Lewis in order for minorities to have as many rights as whites and equality for all. John Lewis died on July 17th at the age of 80. The mural include one of many quotes by the late Representative. This was posted by Art for Amnesty and can be found on its twitter page.

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Genre of the Week: A Tribute to the Swing

brown and black gramophone
Photo by Skitterphoto on

This week’s Genre of the Week pays a tribute to some of the greatest soul and R&B (rhythm and blues) singers who have passed recently. One of them happened to be the predecessor to Elvis Presley in terms of fame during the infancy of rock music, Little Richard. Known as the Innovator, the Originator and the Architect of Rock and Roll, Little Richard was known as the person who created rock and roll with its combination of piano, brass and swing, and set the foundation for other artists of his time to follow suit, namely, Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, Eddie Cochran and especially, Elvis, who later became the King of Rock and Roll. While Little Richard provided the swing, especially with his smash hit, Tutti Frutti (released in 1955), other musicians experimented with instruments which led to rock music splitting into its many forms later on during the 60s, 70s, and 80s, such as heavy metal, R&B, dance (including disco) and pop music. Little Richard continued his career in R&B and soul music, thus leaving 73 years of legacy for many generations to listen to and learn about how rock music was born, raised and fanned out into the forms we listen to today. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. The Swing died on May 9th at the age of 87.

audio e guitars guitars music
Photo by Snapwire on

One of the first things that came to mind upon hearing of his passing was a mixture of swing and rock, where Tutti Frutti was paid a tribute. In 1989, Jive Bunny and the Master Mixers created a mix of techno, pop, jazz, classic rock and swing with the release of Swing the Mood.

Little Richard’s masterpiece was included together with what other pieces of music? Hint: One of them was a song by Elvis, another was first used in a TV sitcom Happy Days. There are two versions. Listen to them and try to figure out who sang what song and in which year. Enjoy this one as we pay tribute to Little Richard.

Short Version:


Long (12 Inch Record) Version:


fast fact logo

Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers also had two other songs that were released, paying tribute to classic rock and swing, That’s What I Like and Let’s Party. They too were released in 1989 and all three of them reached Nr. 1 in the Bilboards. The group from Yorkshire, England later became known as Mastermix DJ Music Service and to this day, produce music and dance mixes for radio and for online streaming.




The Gambler: A Tribute to Kenny Rogers


There are many cultural aspects that are typical of the US. Country music is one of them. It is not like our German Volksmusik because it talks about love Bavarian style. It’s a type of music where you need a guitar, a road, a set of cards and some love stories of women in the past and present, who put a stamp in the heart of a man, dressed up in a cowboy hat and riding a stallion or a horse.

We’ve had many country music singers come and go in the last 50 years or so, like Wynonna Judd, Glen Campbell and Garth Brooks. But one person left over 40 years of country music on the highway as he left to join the Lord.

Kenny Rogers died on 20 March, 2020 at the age of 81 years. He was a talented singer, who started his career in 1976 and retired in 2017, leaving behind 36 albums with 24 songs receiving national and international accolades. His second, not to mention hardly ingnorable second job was an actor, who made his debut in 1973 but last appeared in 2009. He will be remembered as the rustling cowboy, who was a fast shooter and stole the hearts and minds of many women in the Wild, Wild West.  His most famous role that will be remembered by many is the man who cleaned town, Brady Hawkes, in the Gambler series, five films that were released from 1980 until its last one in 1994. He also played Jack MacShayne in the MacShayne film series in 1994.

As mentioned before, Rogers left a legacy that spanned 40 years in the show business. Many of us grew up listening to his songs and watching him clean town in the Wild West. When asked what country music means to them, seven out of ten will mention Kenny Rogers in one form or another because of his style, his tender heart, and lastly, as a lifelong teacher.  When hearing the news of his passing, one song came to mind that best describes his legacy, which is The Gambler.  Watch the video and ask yourselves these two questions:

  1. What was meant by his lessons brought up in the video in the literal sense? Remember, the song has to do with Poker and other card games that were popular in the Wild West, as much as today.
  2. At the same time, what do these lessons mean in the moral and figurative sense? Each lesson does have an underlying meaning that we can take with.


To close with a quote: Life is like a game of cards. How lucky we are depends on what hand we have. Some of us will be lucky, some won’t. Some will keep trying, some won’t. Some will find ways to win, some will find ways to hinder it. And lastly, some will find ways to stop the immorals from ruining their lives, others will simply watch and learn, to be used when the next window of opportunity opens.

RIP, Gambler.



Like Father like Daughter: The Aspiration to become one of the Greats


While watching some of the tributes from many players, mentors and coaches who knew Kobe Bryant, one film came to mind which was his devotion to his family. Kobe had four children and one of them, Gianna, wanted to follow in his footsteps and become a basketball great. In fact many children looked up to him as their mentor because of his balance between basketball life and family life. It was no wonder that he has collected especially many younger fans during his stellar career as a basketball profi. While Gianna will not be able to live his dream (she also perished in the crash), there will be many children who will continue the tradition that Kobe and his daughter have left off, which is making basketball a great sport to play and to cheer.

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Photo: gin-roman07 via Instagram