Did you know that being married is like being nibbled to death by a duck?
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Thursday, September 09, 2010
No, really. I thought about stuff. And then I thought about guns and zombies and airplanes and forgot all about this article until just now.
And what, you may ask, did I think about? Well, it goes something like this: I'm thinking of doing a multi-stage blog (read: spread out over several weeks) on the topic of dating. You see, I'm getting married in two weeks, and as such, I'm basically an expert on the subject. How so? Because I won.
It's like struggling for years and years to win the Super Bowl and then finally achieving that goal; it allows one to kick back, go to Disneyland, and and write a book about how I achieved success. Oh and I get a shiny ring, too!
So starting next week some time I will debut "A Twisted Sense of Dating." Possibly on another blog or possibly on this one; it depends on who bids higher or sends me more truck-loads of cash.
Oh but back to the linked article, it made me remember a lot of things that I have learned through the years (and years, and years, and years...) of being single and how both men and women are screwed up. But not only that, how incorrect most dating "experts" are when analyzing the realities of what constitutes the never-ending search-to-not-be-alone in today's society.
So stay tuned, 'cause I'm sure it will be a riot. If you're married it will probably make you happy you are, and if you're not...well, I'm not liable for what you do to yourself because I don't even use my real name on this site. Convenient, isn't it?
Saturday, September 04, 2010
From a stand up comedian I've never heard of: "I’ll stare at people until they notice me and say, ‘What are you looking at?’ and it totally works in terms of breaking the ice."
You know what else that works for accomplishing? Getting a restraining order, or punched in the face. I have to be honest, I liked neither of those when I got...er, I mean from the people I know, both are painful. Or so I've heard.
From a celebrity hairdresser (right, because they are clearly experts):"Being casual and friendly goes a long way towards establishing trust with someone. Also, use the fact that everyone has an image or fantasy of who they are inside. Tell the person he or she reminds you of a certain celebrity and maybe continue the conversation by asking, ‘If you could be any celebrity, who would it be?’ You’d be surprised by some of the answers you might get!"
Being casual and friendly is the fastest possible route to the "friend zone." Ever been there? It's not a place where hope's and dreams are made, I can tell you. And if you really think you want to know what the average person has for a "fantasy of who they are inside," then you are just asking for a walk down Crazy Lane. I'm sure I would be surprised by some of the answers I got, but only because the average person's detached view of reality never ceases to amaze me.
From "Carrie"(?): "Do something crazy with your girlfriends. My friends and I used to play a game where one of us would go up to a guy the other thought was cute and say, ‘My friend over there is psychic and we can prove it.’ We had a whole system worked out, but the guys would go along because they’re always up for an outrageous story.”
News flash for guys who run into these girls: Anyone claiming, even as a joke, to be "psychic" should be avoided at all costs. This includes running away screaming at the mention of said "system" and, if necessary, setting yourself on fire to avoid further conversation. It will be less painful than the alternative.
From the owner of Brooklyn At! clothing (I totally shop there all the time): "Treat the person you want to talk to as a human being -- as opposed to someone you just want to pick up."
Hey, Danny? If you're not even going to try, then just go sit in the corner. You're banned from giving more advice.
The next quote is from the former ambassador to South Korea. Do we really send people with awesome pick-up skills to talk to South Koreans? You know the answer to that one. Next!
Dr. (riiiight) Joy Brown, clinical psychologist: "Pick something in the environment around you that you can comment on; for example, say, ‘Isn’t that the ugliest painting you ever saw?’"
This one actually has potential. Like this one time when I was at the zoo, there was a really attractive girl next to me at one of the cages. I shouted "hey, that's how baby monkeys are made! Woo hoo!!" She then flashed me a look that was clearly one of attraction. Or abject horror. Either way we are getting married this month, and it has much more to do with primate procreation than it does with any of the roofies I slipped her, I can assure you.
There is one more suggestion from a writer for the New York Post, but I don't read it and have my doubts as to the true existence of this place they call "New York" anyway. So I'm not including that one, but instead will just rant on for a few more minutes about how bad the last Indiana Jones was. Yes, I know it's completely unrelated, but seriously... did you see that movie? They couldn't leave well-enough alone, could they? Nooooooo. Just had to go and ruin the perfect trilogy. Sure glad George Lucas made out like a bandit on that hunk of poo. I'm not at all bitter at him for it.
The moral of the story is that the first three Indiana Jones movies are way, way cooler than trying to pick up girls in public places. That's why I chose eBay for my meeting ground. One can bid...er, talk to the type of girl they want without a hint of pressure. I highly recommend it for anyone who is scared so bad they pee their pants like me when talking to strangers. I guess I never got over the fact that Blinky the Clown said it was a bad thing to do.
Friday, September 03, 2010
Thursday, September 02, 2010
After reading the story, even the soon-to-be-Mrs-Twisted was appalled at the political correctness of banning the "I love boobies" bracelets. I'm pretty sure this is rampage-inducing ridiculousness at its best, here. Bring back the boobies!!!
What's next, banning swing sets on playgrounds? Oh wait....
You know what it's called if your kid gets hurt on a swing set or is offended by the word boobies? LIFE.
I kind of get that feeling with the new name for operations in Iraq, and whoever it is came up with it. That's the best they could come up with? I feel sorry for the guys who now have to put that on their resume.
And don't pretend you didn't know exactly what scene I'm talking about from Die Hard,'cause I know you've seen it 58 times like I have, and still watch it when it comes on FX.
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
Is it wrong for me to giggle about this story? Should I be upset because a guy who watched Avatar and An Inconvenient Lie too many times decides that he should martyr himself for all the world to see? I'm guessing he wanted to go be with the Na'vi.
C'mon, you know you want to laugh about it. The guy wanted to rid the planet of human pollution and, well.... he did his part, at least.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Will it sell? Will it even get published? Only time will tell, as it is in "proposal" stage right now. Hopefully I can find some publisher to take pity on me and spread my words. Hey, a guy can dream, right?
Starting now I am going to hopefully begin blogging more here and at (possibly) another site I have planned. I will update here as often as I can.
Monday, May 31, 2010
I have seen most of the series, only missing out on portions of it, and for the most part it has been pretty well done. However, as par for the course on everything the History Channel does these days, there are a few things that could have been changed to make this a lot better series.
Example one was just flashed on the screen as I type this: people like Michael Douglas giving interviews about the historical importance of given events. Why do I care what Michael Douglas has to say? A few minutes ago the comedian Margaret Cho was giving her accounting of how important the '60s were. What possible reason would I have for listening to her words? Based on most commentary I have heard from her over the years, she could very well be legally retarded.
Other notables include former NFL star Michael Strahan, the intellectually stimulating Al Sharpton, Meryl Streep, and one of the stars of the reality show "Pawn Stars." These voices are heard ad nauseum for commentary on everything from the Revolutionary War to Vietnam and the moon landing.
There have been a few exceptions; I have seen General David Patraeus interviewed, as well. Guess how many times? Twice, as far as I've seen. Yet when the topic of the show is the Vietnam war, apparently news anchor Brian Williams is considered more of an expert than a man who many consider to be one of the greatest military minds in the world.
This is the point we have come to in America; the "story of us" is that we care more about what a Hollywood celebrity has to say than a subject matter expert -- not just on normal television, but on a channel claiming to be devoted to historical knowledge, as well.
Though I think I understand why History Channel would choose to go this route (ratings, anyone?), there should be a point where producers make a decision regarding the direction of their network. And I am pretty sure that point came several years before shows like "Ice Road Truckers" were given the green light on a network that used to run documentaries on, get this, historical topics. A crazy idea, to be sure.
We are at the point in the show now where they are talking about the explosion of technology surrounding personal computers, which gives an opportunity to show some wicked-cool 80's hair styles. This transitions into footage from 9/11 and the reflection of thoughts regarding that event and its effects on the country.
Overall, like I said, the show has been pretty good. One of the reasons I have enjoyed it is brought to mind now watching the 9/11 footage -- they have completely ignored ridiculous conspiracy theories. This is reassuring and gives hope that the History Chanel has not completely jumped the shark in whoring itself for ratings. Granted, they are now giving air time to designer Vera Wang for thoughts on post-9/11 New York, but hey, we can't win 'em all.
The major theme of the show, America's character, is readdressed with the closing segment. I second the notion that it is the character of this country that makes us great, but would finish by positing a question that I briefly touched on earlier: if there is a significant portion of this country that gives more credit to celebrity than it does to accomplishment, then how is our character defined now? Something to consider, especially given the current political climate.
Regardless of your answer, it is clear that a significant portion of the population differs greatly from however you feel. Which is great, considering debate is how the country started. Just beware of those who say we need to "put differences behind us" and that the "time for debate is over." Usually the only time everyone agrees, it's called a mob.
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
Holy cow, this movie just goes on, and on, and on, and on... and on. I think Tarantino has become so infatuated with his dialogue writing that he makes each scene about 15 minutes long, which is about 14 minutes longer than it needs to be.
For all the boredom, Brad Pitt turns in an impressive performance and is the main focus of the only parts of the movie worth watching. Other than that... It's a really slow movie that makes up for it's turtle-like pace by having absolutely nothing happen for most of the movie. Yee-haw.
In other words, I would skip it in favor of watching a caterpillar cocoon itself and turn into a butterfly.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Apparently this guy showed up in Washington D.C. today for the protests involving Second Amendment rights dressed in...well, whatever that is... Dude, whatever it is that you are trying to accomplish, I think it would be better for everyone involved if you just headed back to your mom's basement so you can level-up on Call of Duty. Leave the political debate to everyone at the "adult table."
Hey, I'm as pro-gun as anyone out there. But there is a limit, and for me it's called "logical reasoning." And whatever it is that this guy is supposed to be... I would like to state for the record that I am in no way associated with it.
What do you want to be that he was at one point ruled "unfit for service" when he tried to join the military? Guys like this give any cause a bad name, but it is especially disconcerting when it happens to be one that I agree with.
Monday, March 22, 2010
CPT Myer -- the soldier mentioned in the story -- may very well have done wrong; I was not there and cannot be the judge of whether he did or not. My argument is not whether he did or did not deserve a reprimand, but rather that there are incredible disregards for soldiering nearly every day in the Army in other forms that continue to be allowed while guys like this receive severe disciplinary action.
So in that vain, I post here for public viewing my letter entitled "Why I Will Not Re-enlist."
Why I will not Re-enlist: A statement of integrity
To whom it may concern;
First, please allow me to say that it has been an honor to serve in the United States Army. I have learned a great deal about life, myself, and my country in the time that I have worn this uniform. And I feel that it must be noted here that I in no way consider our actions as a military “unjust” in regards to our efforts in the current fight, or in those past.
Second, let me assure you that I am not a whiny PFC (or lower enlisted at all, for that matter) who thinks that the Army “has it out for me.” I have worn three different colors of beret for this Army; I made E-5 in 2 ½ years as an infantryman with a tan beret on my head; I’ve consistently scored above 90% on APFTs (even when rousted out of bed at 0330 to take them without prior knowledge); as I did not join the Army until the age of 28 – and spent more time in the civilian sector after my active duty time – I bring a very diverse amount of knowledge regarding different occupational specialties; I have had zero negative counseling, nor have I ever been reprimanded in any way; I have received nothing but praise from superiors my entire time in uniform. My only “failures” in the military were when I went above and beyond the normal call (e.g. R.I.P. and SFAS), and one of those failures was due to a serious injury. Does this sound arrogant? Possibly, but it is all 100% true, and it is meant to prove a point – that I have the background, experience, and intelligence needed to make a valid argument not tainted by emotion or thoughts that the Army has “screwed me over.”
Simply put, I know what right looks like. And this, my fellow soldiers, is not it.
In my time with Psychological Operations – starting in January of 2008 – and since deploying to Iraq, I have seen what can only be described as a blatant disregard for standards and an egregious abuse of integrity; not only in my unit, but everywhere around me.
Consider if you will what is at the base of every soldier’s personal skill-set – their physical fitness. This is a standard the Army has adopted for very specific – as well as logical – reasons. And while the standards certainly need updating, they need to be made harder; not what we are currently seeing. Yet my experience in Iraq has shown more pencil-whipped scores and “adjusted” stop-watch times than I can count.
The truly sad part of this abuse of the standards is that, generally speaking, it is not done to prevent a soldier from being pushed out of the Army, but rather to promote them to a higher rank. In my own company, there are way too many cases of this occurring. We have soldiers who consistently fail at common tasks (APFT being but a single example) and then, through much struggle, finally bring themselves to within a hair’s breadth of the standard, receive praise for their “improvement,” and are subsequently pushed through for promotion. By what I have seen at the chow halls here on COB Speicher, I could wager a very large sum of my paycheck on mine not being the only company like this.
To say that this is an insult to those soldiers who excel at these tasks is a vast understatement; it is undermining the exact values which exist in those who do well and praising complacency and mediocrity in its place. This is a methodology of leadership which I can no longer turn my head from and ignore. I see too many good soldiers suffer because they have always been good at what they do; they have responsibility heaped upon them as those who are sub-standard enjoy praise for their “improvements” while being coddled and led by the hand in every task they attempt to complete. Please do not misunderstand me, I fully realize and appreciate that there will always be under-achievers in the ranks; my frustration lies in the simple fact that these people are not only treated well, but are generally promoted as fast or faster than their peers.
We operate in an Army with Sergeants Major who believe it is more important to have soldiers wear glow-belts than it is for them to have situational awareness and watch out for cars; that it is better to correct soldiers for having sunglasses on their head than it is to tell a soldier they are too fat for their uniform; where drinking alcohol in theater is most likely punished by losing rank and money, yet negligent discharges are swept under the rug; a place where a private can be trusted to go outside the wire driving an $800,00 MRAP with a .50 cal mounted on top, but, heaven forbid we allow him to have a Playboy magazine.
The inconsistencies are obvious to anyone but the most oblivious. Some – such as the growing obesity problem and negligent discharges – are downright dangerous to all those in close proximity of the soldier in question. And yet, these offenses continue to go largely unpunished.
What is truly unsettling is that, although I could provide specific examples of these analogies, none are needed because we all know it is true. Everyone reading this can think of numerous cases like these, and may even know the specific ones to which I refer. And that is the problem; the NCO and Officer Corps have largely ignored the issue in favor of not hurting anyone’s feelings, not rocking the boat, or simply wanting more promotions to put on their NCOER or OER. I stood less than an arm’s length away from my Company 1SG when he stated that he would consider himself a “failure” if every one of his soldiers did not come back from the deployment at least one rank higher. Ensuring his soldiers were capable of doing their job was not part of his pass/fail criteria, apparently.
This is an attitude and leadership philosophy I can neither be a part of nor endorse; it breeds contempt, complacency, and sucks the motivation away from even the best soldiers. It does so because it places more importance on increasing rank than it does on meeting or surpassing the standards of good soldiering. It does so because, simply put – and as mentioned above – it rewards complacency and mediocrity. It tells the soldiers who are doing the right thing that their efforts are in vein because they are not needed to succeed or advance in rank. I will not stand by and watch another kid who can’t run, can’t do pushups, can’t shoot, can’t communicate effectively either by radio or face to face, and has spent a whopping one year of actual time wearing the uniform get promoted into the ranks of the Non Commissioned Officer.
So, it is with this statement that I respectfully decline all reenlistment options, and hope that better men than I can influence the Army in the right way for future generations. There are a number of good soldiers out there. They need to be treated accordingly, because if they’re not, they will leave for the same reasons that this one is: I’m tired of every single day being a slap in the face to those who should be valued higher than all other things. Good soldiers are like limited resources; treat them as such and you will benefit.
Thank you for your time,
Friday, February 19, 2010
See how smoothly I transitioned from writing about the movie I just went to into a rant about how worthless M. Night Shamalamadingdong is? What can I say, I'm pretty good at this.
But seriously, if you've ever watched a movie like The Sixth Sense or The Happening and thought "hey, this is a pretty cool concept for a movie. It's too bad that it was totally ruined by outright bad film making..." then you might like Shutter Island because it is a cool concept for a movie that is made by someone who -- as crazy as this sounds -- knows how to make a movie.
For instance, where Shyamiwhynot tells actors to "stand here and say this line and don't worry if you sound like a soulless robot," Scorsese does this thing called "directing" whereby he challenges the actors to...act. This is a revolutionary idea that brings a rare commodity called "emotion" to the screen instead of, say, people just walking around talking about stuff like they are getting ready for a root canal.
The same can be said for the set itself. Scorsese tends to use backdrops like they were part of the movie. This is contrary to the Shymybutthurts school of film making which seems to pick settings based on wherever they pulled off the road to pee on a long trip and just set up shop without any rhyme or reason.
The plot of Shutter Island, however, suffers from the same problems as many other movies in that, if you have seen more than four other movies in your whole life, you can probably figure out what's going on well before the end. I've been surprised by exactly two endings to movies in my whole life, and this was not one of those times.
That being said, it was still entertaining. The production was top-notch, as was the acting. I know Leonardo Dicaprio got a lot of heat early on in his career for being a bit of a weeny (which I'm pretty sure he is -- mister-eco-friendly-guy), he is a damn fine actor who manages to be convincing as numerous characters.
The supporting cast is very strong, with Ben Kingsley always turning in a strong performance and the best role Max Von Sydow has played since Strange Brew. Wait, that may be the only role he's had since Strange Brew...
Again -- and I really can't stress this enough -- it's important to remember how much better of a movie this is than anything M. Night Shimmieshimmiecocoapop ever did. Ever. Why do I continue bringing him up? A laundry list of reasons comes to mind, but you only need two: One, all of his movies try to have some kind of brain-bending-twist that is supposed to "freak your mind" or something and.... utterly fails. And two, have you ever seen Lady in the Water? My gosh, that was one of the biggest insults to intelligence ever put on film. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of the First amendment, but that guy should probably go on trial just for that movie alone. Unbreakable would just fall under the category of "supporting evidence" to his conviction of crimes against humanity.
In short, Shutter Island was pretty decent, but isn't going to set your hair on fire. Unless you sit behind me and kick my chair like the lady did at the theater. Then all bets are off.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Hat-tip to "J" for sending this to me and giving me the idea.
Dear Campus Community:
On behalf of the Metro State community, I wish to express our condolences to the University of Alabama at Huntsville campus community for the loss of three colleagues and the wounding of three others during the Feb. 12 shooting incident.
While, unfortunately, this kind of tragic incident is not completely preventable (except maybe by allowing concealed carry by students and faculty), I want to reassure you that we do have a number of (totally useless) campus safety initiatives in place, including the Emergency Notification System ( http://retardedcampussecurity.com), which I encourage all faculty, staff and students to sign up for.
I have been in contact with (insert random academic administrator here), Campus' interim executive vice president for administration, (an entirely useless position for which we pay a substantial salary and allow ridiculous leeway in terms of job performance), and she wishes to remind everyone that all members of the campus community (read: anyone who thinks campus police are real police) should report any suspicious activity or person immediately to the (insert general college campus here) Police Department at 1-800-EAT-PRIDE, or 911 from any campus phone. She also suggests that you take note of where the blue light emergency telephones are located in the campus parking lots (not that they will work, but hey, go ahead and try!).
In addition, the Campus Police offer the following safety tips:
Always be aware of what is going on around you. Many violent situations unfold in the same general way-a person makes threats or threatening comments. They show up at a business, school or workplace dressed in military-style or inappropriate clothing (like 90% of douche-bag veterans on campus), such as a trench coat in summer, and pull out a firearm and start calmly and methodically firing. Look for people acting strangely or dressed inappropriately. Take threats seriously (and please ignore the fact that in the event that inspired this letter -- the shooting at the University of Alabama -- the shooter wore neither military-style clothing nor a trench coat. We are doing our best to stereotype, so noting the differences here does not serve our purpose. And no, it doesn't apply to the Virginia Tech shooter either, so don't waste your time bringing up those "facts") .
Believe what you see. As events unfold in front of you, trust your eyes and your ears, as you see people running or hear the gunfire and people screaming (it may just be finals week..?). Many people report that they thought the event wasn't real (this is college, nothing seems real to anyone). They think it is a movie or a joke. Stay aware of what is happening around you, and trust your instincts that something is wrong?believe the warning! (and don't believe your English professors when they teach you punctuation! The faculty doesn't use it correctly, why should you?!)
Your first priority is to get out of the line of fire (hit the ground in the fetal position!). Get on the ground immediately and assess your escape routes. Do not hesitate, move!
Find cover (and wait there to become a victim). Get behind something that will stop bullets, not just conceal you (hippies help on both counts, but don't expect them to move with you). High-powered bullets (no, those weren't used in Alabama, either) can penetrate a large amount of materials. Look for brick walls, planters, mailboxes, cars or thick trees (the youth of today tends to wear baggy clothes, so that will offer some help).
Put distance between you and the shooter. Your chances for survival in a gunfight rise dramatically the farther you are from the gunman (they also rise when you confront the shooter with deadly force. However, our goal is to have the highest body count possible) so stay down and crawl away from the origin of the shooting. Try to get better cover or escape out of a door or window. Just get out (of my line of site while I'm trying to draw a bead on the shooter).
Escape! If you have been trapped by gunfire and there is a noticeable dramatic silence, the gunman may have run out of ammunition and is either reloading or switching to another weapon (or possibly shooting themselves, or getting high, or watching a film on Che Guevara. Remember, this is college). If at all possible, move to an exit to escape (under no circumstances should you attempt to defend yourself).
Call 911 or 303-GET-HIGH from a cell phone. As soon as it is safe, call the police giving them a location, description, make of weapon and any injuries.
While the likelihood is that you will never need this advice, it is impossible to predict if you'll ever be present when violence erupts. According to the police, a mental attitude of survival is your best defense (after all, a "mental attitude of survival" has ended many violent encounters such as The University of Texas clock-tower Shooting, the North Hollywood shootout, and the Battle of Falluja. But that's a different kind of "mental attitude" than what is being referred to here, isn't it?).
Also, if you notice signs of common responses to trauma (insert website and a phone number to call where you can talk to people who have absolutely no experience what so ever with violent conflict, trauma, or psychological response to armed encounters).
For more information on campus emergency preparedness, go to http://blaaaablaablaa/....
Again, please be assured that everything possible is being done to keep (this enclave of liberal and socialist ideology) a safe environment for us all (to be segregated from reality).
Pseudo-Intellectual & Champion of Spinelessness, Ph.D.
I had crawled back to the safety of the ditch under a withering hail of gunfire. I could sense that the ODA guys were relieved to have me nearby again. Once again the team looked to me for guidance. I knew I had to make a decision to get these guys back to safety.
"We gotta get out of here." I shouted over the din of the gunfire.
"We already decided to E&E while you were out there pulling your stupid stunt." The ODA team chief growled at me. "If it wasn't for your stupidity we would have been out of here already."
"I'm trying to save your lives" I retorted. "I've been in 18 ambushes and I think I know whats going on. You've come along way sir, but I don't think your quite ready for this hot of a situation."
"Whatever, we don't have time for your shit." Yelled the team chief as he and his team dashed off down the dry creek bed in order to escape the ambush. I followed soon after, but not before I layed claymore mines along our route to destroy the enemy that followed us.
Twelve hours later we found ourselves pinned down again outside of a village near the Iranian border. It was the last obstacle on our way to freedom. The only thing was, a battalion of Iranian Special troops was hunkered down in the village, raining down their fire on us. Again, it was on me to pull the operation out of the fire, I didn't care what I had to do, I just wanted to get these guys home safe.
"Give me that radio" I demanded to the commo sergeant, "I'm calling in CAS."
"This is a SATCOM unit, it can't talk to air." Replied the inept SF sergeant.
"Oh yeah, watch this." I picked up the antenna array and pointed it at the nearest airplane I could see.
"You're cleared hot to engage targets in the village. Expend all ordnance, its gonna be danger close." Without responding the F-15 streaked in and dropped two 500 lb. bombs. The shock wave rocked me back, the feeling of the overpressure reminded me of the 18 IED attacks I had survived already on this tour.
"Get some." I shouted into the hand set. Over the next 4 hours I called in everything the air force and navy could throw our way. F-15, F-16, F-18, B-1, B-2, B-17, and even a flight of JU-87 Stukas that were pulled out of mothballs. The most amazing moment was when I ordered a KC-135 to dump its fuel over the village followed by a napalm strike to ignite it. The village went up in a mushroom cloud. Then there was silence.
Smoke drifted over our position from the burning remains of the village. It stank of burning flesh and I knew right there that I would have flashbacks for years. My hands shook, I was in awe of the destruction I had wrought.
"Did you see that shit! I f#$ked them up!" I cheered. "Yeehaw."
I saw saw the commo sgt hunched over his radio, handset to his ear, shaking his head in disgust at me.
"That radio isn't even on, shitbird. That was me calling in that air."
The team chief turned to his guys. "Did you see this moron jumping around shouting at a dead radio." He laughed.
"Yeah, what a retard." A wave of laughter swept over the desolate plane. I knew I had earned their respect, even if they showed it in such a weird way.
With the threat destroyed, we pulled on our packs and marched our way back to the relative safety of the Afghan side of the border. COL Fury was waiting there for us and he shook our hands one by one as we crossed border. As I stepped across, COL Fury grasped my hand in his iron grip, "You are truly a great American hero. I know we can't celebrate the story of your success because of the sensitivity of this operation but, rest assured, your fellow countrymen would be proud of your tenacity, and strength."
Suddenly the pain and weariness of the last few days wore off. I took off my hat and stood there gazing off to the setting sun, relieved to be back among the living.
Monday, February 15, 2010
It seemed as if we had been dropped into a nightmare. Almost as soon as we crossed the border, we had been ambushed. The explosions were deafening and the bullets were ricocheting and popping overhead. I peeked up from behind the rock I was using as cover and saw streams of tracer rounds arcing down at us from the ridge line above. I could see the shadows of enemy troops, probably Iranian Regulars, creeping ever closer to our position, dashing through the darkness. I could see the other guys were on the verge of panic. I was almost ready to join them in their terror when I remembered an important lesson from my past. It was in an article in “Soldier of Fortune Magazine” that I learned you have to keep a cool head in combat. That’s when I formulated my plan to get us out of there.
“Cover me while I go back to the truck and get the Loudspeaker.” I shouted over the gunfire.
“Are you f@$%ing retarded?” Answered the team leader. “This isn’t the time for your lame-a$$ speaker, SSG W.”
“Maybe I should just turn it in. I guess I don’t need it anymore.” I replied like a petulant child.
“Whatever. Go ahead and get yourself killed.” The team leader relented. Apparently my Line of Persuasion had worked on him. I readied myself to make a dash for the truck. I removed my vest and helmet to lighten the load so I could run faster and maneuver with ease. Then I filled my cargo pockets with M-203 rounds from my assault pack. I was ready to go. I took two deep breaths to prepare and I jumped up and began my dash. The incoming rounds were zipping past my head and I could feel them tearing through the air as they passed close by. I started working the 203, knowing that my fire could keep down the enemy’s heads. I had the foresight to load it with shotgun rounds which would release a cloud of deadly pellets over their positions. While at a dead sprint I kept reaching into my pockets and reloading, not stopping to give the enemy a chance to hit me. I just kept pumping those 203 rounds down range like a mad-man.
I reached the truck, out of breath and hunkered down behind the engine block. After catching my breath for a moment I crawled my way to the back of the vehicle where the loudspeaker was stored. I jumped up and reached into the bed of the truck, retrieving the loudspeaker. With rounds pinging off the truck, I began to assemble the loudspeaker system. After connecting all the wires I flicked on the power switch. That’s when I noticed the unit had been riddled with bullets and was inoperable. I couldn’t believe it. My primary weapon, the most important piece of equipment in the army’s inventory, had been destroyed.
The situation seemed more hopeless now than ever before. If I couldn’t use the loudspeaker, what other possible solution could there be? Maybe a leaflet drop? But how could I organize one from behind a bullet riddled truck, deep inside Iranian territory. It would take a truly heroic effort which only I could possibly achieve.
I peeked up over the back of the truck to try and spot the enemy coming closer. WHAM! It felt like I had been punched in the right ear. I reached up and felt around. I breathed a sigh of relief as I felt the shattered remains of my Peltor headset. Not only had it saved my hearing, it had quite possibly saved my life. Now I became afraid again. My life seemed to flash before my eyes. I saw my fellow Public Schools cops back home. I saw my Grandmother and D's juicy fat behind in my mind and I began to cry. I knew then and there I was a goner. We were all going to die out here. Who could possibly save us. I hoped my end would be quick and painless.
To be Continued……….
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
So...someone did. I cannot take credit for the writing here, although I wish I could. This story (part one of which starts below) became quite famous throughout MND North, and rightfully so -- it was the ultimate form of "call-out" to a guy who deserved to be called out. What you are about to read, as scary as it seems, is based on things that actually came out of his own mouth. Which parts are his and which are the author's? You be the judge, and laugh it up knowing in the back of your mind that most of it came from the mind of the subject of the story.
His name will be witheld -- you know, in case his family knows how to Google -- and if you don't "get it," don't worry. This is not a piece intended for all audiences, but more for the sake of a few (and getting this on to the world wide web for future use).
Without further ado, I give you The Lonely Watch (with a hat-tip to the true author, who knows who he is).
I sat atop the hill above our humble little outpost, looking out over the windswept mountains of the Hindu Kush. I had grown to enjoy coming up here to collect my thoughts. The wind blew through my unkempt hair and beard as I contemplated the events of the last few hours. We had just received a briefing for tonight’s mission. I was still in shock over the pronouncement of tonight’s objective. We would be attempting an operation I would have thought impossible just a few short hours ago. We were going to invade Iran!
“You have been assembled here to be a part of one of the most secret missions of this war.” said Col Dalton Fury, the SF team commander. He was addressing an assembly of a dozen grizzled, elite warriors in attendance at the pre mission briefing .
“You have been selected for your skill in your specialties and your experience in these types of operations. Tonight’s target will be Objective Snake Oil. You will be going 35 miles behind the Iranian border to assault this suspected Al Quaeda training camp.” COL Fury pointed out the objective on the large map mounted on the wall. “You will be inserted here at LZ Bogus and make your way to positions here on the Northwest side of the village.” He traced the route out on the map. “Psyops.” COL Fury stared me down with his piercing gaze.”I need you for the most important stage of this mission. I need you to do a tactical callout once we deploy at the objective.”
“Roger, Sir” I replied “Our loudspeaker is the biggest asset we provide. I’ll prep a message right away”
“Thanks SSG W. I always know I can count on you” the COL said. Undoubtedly, he felt more approving of me than he would admit in front of all these men. “Now go get ready men. Your country is counting on you.” With that we were dismissed from the briefing to prepare for the mission.
I began by cleaning my weapons. An M-4 with a 203 grenade launcher mounted underneath. Not many people can match my skill with the 203 so I am forced to carry the extra weight of the weapon. As much as I hate carrying the extra weight, I know I can make the difference when things go wrong out there. Next, I double check the MPLS, better known as the Man-Pack Loudspeaker System. Sure enough, it plays the tactical callout message loud and clear. Finally, I take out my Peltor headset, replacing the batteries to ensure they will work the whole mission. I throw two more AA batteries in my pack just to be sure.
Now the team is assembled on the trucks. I look over and see COL Fury walking over from the TOC to see us off. “Gather ‘round gent.” He shouted. “Everyone hand over your name tapes and ID cards.” The COL commanded “You’re going sterile on this one. We don’t need the Iranian government finding out US troops are operating inside their borders.” The quiet evening air was disturbed by the sound of tearing Velcro as we removed every last bit of evidence that we were Americans.
“Mount Up” shouted the team leader. I began to get nervous now. I wondered would I ever see my family again? Would I make it back alive? My mind was racing but I calmed myself with the knowledge that I was highly trained and surrounded by the most talented men in Special Operations. I pulled my Peltors down over my ears and hopped onto the back of the GMV, a Special Forces version of the Humvee. I stood up, holding onto the turret ring as we sped away towards the setting sun. Towards our destiny.
To Be Continued………
Friday, January 29, 2010
That is, as long as you knock it off about the fact that the legs on the drawing belong to a 450 lbs Sa'amoan man. Just shut it!
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
I think it should be offered up as a disclaimer before I start that A) I'm not a fan of Bill Maher and B) based on what I've seen in the previews, his view of Christianity is not the same as my own. That being said, I will watch it and offer up some thoughts.
The film opens with Maher stating that, when the Book of Revelation was written, "only God had the power to destroy the earth," but now we do because we have nuclear weapons and global warming. So...it's gonna be like that, is it Bill? Well here we go, then...
He says that he simply "can't" understand why people cling to religion, and that it is a "detriment to humanity." Isn't the inability to understand something the same as being ignorant of it? For instance, I completely understand why people are atheists, regardless of whether or not I agree with them; I understand why people choose different political parties in spite of my own views; I understand a lot of things I don't agree with. I even understand why people think being a progressive liberal is a good idea -- because they are missing a portion of a logical-thinking brain.
With a brief review of his childhood -- which was one of having a Jewish mother but being raised Catholic -- Bill has a discussion with his mother in which she reveals that the biggest reason they left the Church was because they used birth control and Catholicism is decidedly against birth control. Obviously they weren't into it soon enough, but I think I'm getting ahead of myself.
The first stop in his journey of "seeking the truth" is at the Truck Stop Chapel in Raleigh, North Carolina, and begins asking them (all seven people at the chapel) hard questions about what man has done to change Christianity from what the Biblical intent was. Way to challenge yourself by tackling some real intellectual heavyweights there, Bill. A couple of obese truckers can't answer you to your liking, so clearly you're right.
Well I stand corrected -- he's now interviewing Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project and author of the very interesting The Language of God. Maher uses the argument that the historicity of Jesus has never been proven, and when Collins tells him that he is setting up a standard that is impossible to meet, the interview disappears through the magic of editing and is replaced by Maher talking about how Jesus must have had an "awkward" childhood. He then claims that none of the Gospels are "history" and that they were not written by people who knew Jesus. My problem with this is that he states it as an accepted fact by historians. This is simply not true. Of course there is dispute regarding the historicity of the Gospels, but to deny them outright as not historical at all would be to discount much of what we have today in terms of non-religious history, as well. And last time I checked... nope, Bill Maher is not a historian. Huh.
Back to Collins so Maher can ask a question... and then not let him answer.
The next interview is with some sort of tele-evangelist-type dude who dresses like a pimp because he "likes gold" and says that "Jesus dressed very well...he was not poor." Once again an outstanding representative of Christianity. The guy can't even correctly quote one of the most widely known verses in the Bible. Crimeny who is this guy? Jeremiah Cummings. Remind me to buy his DVD.
Next up is the question of being gay, and how organized religion has approached the issue. Maher questions a pastor about whether or not someone can be born gay or not. Whether the answer is yay or nay, how does this impact the truth of Christianity? It's called playing to the audience. He knows it's a "hot button" topic and stirs people up. There's absolutely no value to the debate in an intellectual sense, but it's fun to make people uncomfortable by throwing the words "fag" and "gay sex" at them.
Back to the conversation with Bill's mother and him covering the topic of how upset he was when he found out that Santa wasn't real and then jumps back to a conversation with a shop-owner about the story of Jonah and how unbelievable it is to him that a story like this could happen. In other words he is taking the stance of presupposing that miracles cannot happen, therefore treating the simple mention of a miracle with pure mockery. Which is what makes his next foray -- into the topic of the founding fathers of American history and its relationship with Christianity -- all the more ironic. Given the circumstances of the American invention, I'd say the fact that we came to where we are is a pretty good example of a miracle.
A couple of quotes are thrown up on the screen from Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, seemingly with the intent of showing the viewer that the Founding Fathers were not Christian as many claim. Oddly enough he leaves out any quotes by James Madison. Interesting. I think he was kinda important... Moving on to modern day politics he interviews Mark Pryor, a Senator from Arkansas, about the Ten Commandments. Bill commits a common fallacy here after he suggests that people could figure out murder is wrong without religion by stating that "more killing has been done in the name of 'my God'..." Though he fails to complete the thought, it is left hanging as if to imply that religion has caused more murder than any other source in history. This is a great line of thought...as long as you don't pick up a history book. Ever. If he can come up with a single religious-based war that caused more deaths than Stalin did during his time in power, then that would be a greater miracle than anything Jonah ever did.
On to the topic of evolution, Maher uses another classic: saying that scientists "pretty much agree" on evolution. Uhhh...what? Try this: Google "origins of life" and then tell me that scientists are in agreement. Nothing could be further from the truth. And here's the real kicker: Christianity isn't in agreement on the subject. There are several very well-educated Christians who propose old-earth theories -- some of which pre-date Charles Darwin. Crazy talk, I know. But notice that Maher didn't include this line of questioning with Dr. Collins -- opting instead for a bumbling, good ol' boy Senator.
I'll get to the rest later. But I'd like to note that I'm half-way through this thing and so far my biggest complaint is that Maher has not challenged himself at all. Yes, Dr. Collins is a heavyweight, but his answers are edited out or cut short. He states at the beginning that he is searching for the truth, but if that were the case why would he purposefully seek out those who can be mocked with ease for their lack of understanding? One can find a fool in any discipline if their intent is to make the discipline look foolish.
Will try and do the second half tomorrow.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
In case you don't want to read the whole thing (and I personally recommend you don't), I will give you the highlight. In response to a question by the interviewer "you understand how it feels to shoot someone as much as a person who has actually committed murder?" Kilmer has this to say:
I understand it more. It's an actor's job. A guy who's lived through the
horror of Vietnam has not spent his life preparing his mind for it. He's some
punk. Most guys were borderline criminal or poor, and that's why they got sent
to Vietnam. It was all the poor, wretched kids who got beat up by their dads,
guys who didn't get on the football team, couldn't finagle a scholarship. They
didn't have the emotional equipment to handle that experience. But this is what
an actor trains to do. I can more effectively represent that kid in Vietnam than
a guy who was there.
I would love to tell you it gets less crazy from there, but... I'd be lying. He goes on to say how he understands Moses and how it would feel to be Jesus... Geez, this guy manages to insult veterans and Christians without even discussing politics. That's fairly impressive.
Though I would love to spend the next 30 or 40 minutes kicking the crap out of the above statement, I think it speaks for itself. Just remember, these are the people making millions of dollars to entertain and enlighten you. Then tell you how horrible you are for being a greedy capitalist and for hating minorities and children. I hope you are all ashamed of yourselves.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
That being said, it is an excellent movie. Denzel Washington, playing the lead character, is on a journey across what was once America, some 30 years after a nuclear holocaust. He is in possession of the last remaining Holy Bible, and is compelled by "a voice" to take it to a place he is not sure of, but knows he will when he gets there.
Of course there is a bad guy -- in this case played by Gary Oldman -- who is in control of some other bad guys and wants to expand his bad guyness into more territories and over more people. He believes the best way to do this is to get a hold of a Bible; its words and teachings can be used for the purposes of controlling the masses.
Because of this conflict between the protagonist and his adversary, an interesting sub-theme is developed which poses the question of power in regards to religion and how people use it. Which is interesting for me because the majority of debate I have engaged in regarding religion ends up focusing more on what Christianity has done, rather than what it should do. For most who oppose religion and belief, a large portion of their argument is dedicated to "well what about when 'the Church' did _____." Whether or not "the Church" actually did what is in question is often irrelevant; the point is that people see the actions of a group in power as being indicative of the source documents from which that power builds itself.
However, this is, as I stated, a sub-theme; the primary theme is that Denzel Washington's character, Eli, is one bad mamma-jamma. To paraphrase the Blues Brothers, he's on a mission from God and people who get in his way are generally less well-off than they were before. It's not a non-stop action movie, but the action that exists is very well done and the pace of the movie certainly does not make you feel like you are watching a film about religion.
Aside from a couple of small technical flaws (like, where did they get the gas for the vehicles 30 years after everything was destroyed? And how do they keep them running?) I thought it was an extremely well done movie with great acting and a thought-provoking storyline. In fact, whether you are a believer or not, you would be hard-pressed to disagree that it is quite rare these days for Hollywood to put out something with a positive spin on anything Biblical and/or relating to the Christian faith. This manages to do just that while still addressing a pertinent argument that many anti-theists make against organized religion.
But a solid two thumbs up from this guy, for what it's worth. It's not a super-fancy special effects extravaganza, but it certainly keeps you engaged and makes you think about a few things in a different light, for sure. I highly recommend it for anyone making a trip to the theater. Especially for those who are a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre like myself.
Unfortunately, however, there are, in fact, no zombies. The film could certainly have used some zombies.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Thank you for playing, but we kindly ask you to leave now.
This is literally where we're at in this country -- people are creating forums on the internet to discuss "ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible." No, really. You just read that. And it was a quote on CNN. I couldn't make this up if I tried.
So, again, for anyone out there who shares those feelings or feels "despair" regarding the human race after seeing the movie Avatar, please see yourselves out quietly.
As for me, I'm headed to see The Book of Eli this afternoon and should have a review up later tonight. Should be a pretty good movie, as Denzel rarely disappoints, and it has to do with the apocalypse and Bible stuff. Sweeeeeeeeeeeeet.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Whew. Now that I have that out of my system...
The Hurt Locker came out on DVD yesterday, and as I had read several very positive reviews from reputable sources, I went ahead and bought the DVD so that we -- myself, J, and Big Pappa, all hardened combat vets ourselves -- could watch it and offer up a review.
Let me begin by saying that, overall, it was a good movie. The pace was good, acting was well above average, special effects were quite well done, and the production was exceptional considering that it's not exactly a high-budget Hollywood flick.
The movie follows a team of Army EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) soldiers during their last couple of months in Iraq. The team is forced to adjust to a new leader who seems to be a bit of a thrill-seeker after losing their first one in a bomb blast. Due to the adventurous nature of the new leader, the team finds itself in multiple situations that raise the heart-rate to a near-explosive level for the other soldiers.
Now for the down and dirty (enough of this "plot" nonsense, eh?): although I liked it, there were some glaring problems I saw that could have been corrected with little effort on behalf of the production company and the film would not have suffered. I do realize that dramatic license must be applied from time to time in order to make things more enjoyable for the viewer. But most of the problems I saw were not ones that would make it less exciting, but rather just more realistic.
For instance, at the beginning of the movie the caption on the screen reads "Baghdad, 2004." We see a very well done set that very much resembles Iraq (not sure where they filmed it) and some soldiers patrolling, all in their uniforms which were very well done and completely accurate. If it were 2008. The U.S. Army did not have ACUs in 2004, but rather DCUs; nor was everyone using M4s (many units were still carrying the old musket, the M-16). Many viewers probably say "so what, it's not that big a deal." Well... yeah, you're probably right, but it's the attention to detail that I think sets movies apart; just overlooking stuff and saying "ahhh skip it, only a few people will notice" lends to shoddy work all around.
Which leads to the next problem -- throughout the movie, our heroes are seemingly out on their own. They arrive at the scene of a bomb/IED...alone. They patrol up a street to the bomb....alone. They go out to dispose of ordnance...alone. Granted, I was not there in 2004, but I've never seen EOD do anything alone. Ever. In fact, the only time they got out of their truck was to inspect ordnance. No patrolling, no pulling security against snipers, nada.
Keep in mind, this is not to take away from EOD. On the contrary; they have a very specific job that they do quite well. They are not needed for the other tasks, and because of that they are free to concentrate on their job -- preventing things from blowing up where they shouldn't, and making them blow up where they should.
In other words, their job is pretty exciting as it is. Hollywood magic is not really necessary to spruce it up.
My biggest point of contention with the film comes at what is probably the best action scene in the movie. The EOD team is out -- alone, again -- and runs into a team of British...contractors? Special Forces? They are dressed in Haji garb and it's never made clear what they are for sure. Either way, they are dressed like dudes who have been there and done that, and have a couple of prisoners.
I won't completely spoil the events, but all of them together come under fire from some bad guys and are forced to take cover in a ditch. One of the Brits has a .50 caliber sniper rifle, so they attempt to use it to engage the snipers who attacked them, who are...apparently over a thousand yards away. So far, in fact, that the Americans and Brits have problems hitting them accurately with their .50 cal.
For those non-gun people out there, let me explain: there is no hand-held rifle in the arsenal of any Arab military force that can cover that distance accurately, let alone out-shoot Brit snipers with that kind of weaponry. Which leads me to the issue I have with this: why would the producers of the movie go out of their way to make bad guys look better and Western forces appear incompetent? I know it's a small detail, but it's almost like a conscious effort in movies these days to make our military look weaker than the enemy we are fighting. As critical as I am of the U.S. Military, we are far superior to anything a Middle Eastern country has produced. Ever.
The classic blooper of the movie occurred at this point, as well, when they tried to use the sniper rifle but couldn't because it was jammed. Why was it jammed? Because there was "blood" on the bullets in the magazine. Uhh...what? If blood makes weapons jam, we are in serious trouble... Rest assured, it would have worked just fine. But here again, it would not have detracted from the movie had they changed this part to reflect a more realistic problem. Like, say, maybe a female soldier unable to participate because she was asleep? Ohhh come on, that would never happen, right? RIGHT??? Keep telling yourself that...
That being said, I liked the movie. It was definitely the best thing I've seen regarding the current conflict, and it did a good job of staying away from the whole everyone-comes-back-broken-with-PTSD theme that plague so many films in this genre. It may also be good to keep in mind that I watched the movie with two friends who I deployed with, so we may have had a lot of open commentary that forced us to miss portions of the film. Possibly.
I would highly recommend it in your Netflix que or from the Redbox, as it is certainly better than most of what is out there.
On a slightly related note, Kelly Crigger has a great piece over at Ranger Up telling about the passing of a true American hero, and how preoccupied people are with Tiger Woods and the like instead of guys like Robert Howard. Take the time to check it out.
Monday, January 11, 2010
The game will work like this: who can come up with the most idiotic thing in Hollywood -- be it a quote, an idea, or a random happening -- and explain how it is that these people are able to continue not only living in our society, but earning substantially more money than we are while doing it.
My first nomination comes from one of the champions of Hollywood-stupid, none other than Oliver Stone. Poorly constructed historical efforts regarding Alexander the Great, Nixon, and the 60's in general not withstanding, Stone may very well have out done himself with this one.
Stone announced yesterday that a 10-hour crash course in the history of the 20th century he is putting together for American TV is designed as an antidote to the inaccuracies and biases he believes exist in the conventional historical narrative dished out in American schools and mainstream media. The title alone gives an inkling of what lies ahead: Oliver Stone's Secret History of America.
Because Oliver Stone is a highly trained historian. Oh wait... He then went on to discuss how he would portray Hitler and Stalin "in context" because he was able to empathize with them, and say how the film would cover Mao and...McCarthy. Apparently outing communists in your own government while being a drunk is equal to the genocide of millions of people. Seriously. It is. Look it up.
Anyway, that's the coup de grace of stupid in Hollywood this week as far as I can find. I'm looking in the direction of Big Pappa and his roommate to come up with something better, and am confident they can.
Tomorrow I will be watching The Hurt Locker and hopefully reviewing it soon, as it is supposed to be a pretty good flick. And later in the week I will be going to see The Book of Eli as I am more than just a little excited about that one. Let's hope Hollywood can restore my faith in entertainment. After all, if I lose faith in famous people, where does that leave me???