Did you know that being married is like being nibbled to death by a duck?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Movie Review: Shutter Island

The latest film from esteemed director Martin Scorsese, Shutter Island is basically everything M. Night Shymalalalallalyayayan wishes he could make in a movie but can't. Because he completely and utterly sucks at making movies and should be banned from the earth.

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

Letter to Students: We Totally Have Your Back in an Emergency

Certain "academic institutions" have recently sent letters out to the student body in response to the shooting in Alabama a few days ago. With the help of a good friend, we...uhh, *helped* in translating one of these letters. Our comments are in italics.

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.

The Lonely Watch: Part III

For explanation of the story, see previous two posts.

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

The Lonely Watch: Part II

For an explanation of the story, see part one (the post directly below this one).

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

The Lonely Watch

Preface: I can't believe it has taken me this long to put this up on the web. Short background: While in Iraq, we had a guy in our Detachment who was "that guy" in terms of story-telling, self-dilusions, and generally making himself a legend in his own mind. He told several stories to people regarding his past deployments that were so easily detectable as lies, they needed to be written down.

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).

Chapter 1
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………