Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Idol Thoughts 3/26-27

My sister-in-law is a big Kristy Lee Cook supporter. Not ironically either. Her girl did good last night.

Best of the night was certainly David Cook regardless of whether or not he's ripping off arrangements. Maybe it's only me, but I have always assumed that's what the contestants on this show do.

Worst of the night? Probably Ramiele, but I think she's safe. Poor Chikezie is probably on his way out.

Some more badass military photography

Those Navy MCs (and Air Force) continue to impress me.

080325-N-5961C-001 PACIFIC OCEAN (March 25, 2008) Members of the flight deck crew aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) work as the sun sets on another day of flight operations. The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is conducting Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) preparing for an upcoming deployment. U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Spike Call (Released)

080316-F-2114K-325 GODORIA RANGE, Djibouti (March 16, 2008) An SH-60 Seahawk helicopter sets off dust and dirt as it lands to pick-up U.S. service members during a Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa naval service fire support training exercise to help maintain proficiency aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81). U.S. Air Force photo by Sr. Airman Jacqueline Kabluyen (Released)

080320-F-1644L-056 ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (March 20, 2008) Rear Adm. Philip Greene Jr., commander, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, talks with Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 74 during a site visit at Abadir Primary School. The Seabees are refurbishing the school's ceilings, bathrooms, classrooms and the administration building as part of a Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa community service project. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock (Released)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

On cowardice

I speak with military retirees often. Sometimes it’s a very pleasant experience. Like today.

Calling on a completely unrelated note, a pleasant lady began to tell me about how much she appreciates our fine servicemembers and their service. She laments the fact that her husband, a Vietnam veteran, didn’t get the same kind of reception our current troops get. She, like many other veterans and their family members, is working hard to ensure our troops today don’t get the cold shoulder our fighting forces have in the past.

She then went into a bit of a tirade about folks today who protest our troops. Folks who run away from military service. She mentioned folks who in her time ran to Canada to avoid the draft. And she asked a question, rhetorical though it may be, that made me think. She asked, what makes a person do that? What kind of a person turns their back on their country like that?

Honestly, I believe that person is a coward.

Say what you want about not agreeing with a war, or disagreeing with the government or even being a conscientious objector, if you run away from your duty as a citizen of this country you are a base coward. I understand religious objections to taking another life, but guess what? Two of our nations greatest heroes were conscientious objectors (Desmond T. Doss and Thomas W. Bennett). Those were men who feared taking another man’s life, but not losing their own. In fact, they so valued life that they put their own on the line to protect their fellow man. See if any Berkeley protestor is willing to do something like that. No, they are into protest chic.

What our society has done is bred a culture of fear. We have made it OK to shy away from civic duty if we’re too scared to serve because someone out there will do it for us. But you know what this mentality is breeding? Not only a vast group of cowards who have never had to really take a stand (and, by virtue of that, don’t know how to take a stand), but also culture where cowardice has become an admired trait. I don’t mean turning the other cheek, I mean running away from confrontation in the first place.

It is after speaking with the retirees and family members of veterans who make it a point to tell me how much they appreciate our troops that I feel charged, more than ever, to ensure my children don’t grow up to be pussies.

I realize that I am, in part responsible for the outcome of our nation, and I will do my part to ensure that my children are ready to take the guidon when it’s time.

There sheep. There castle.

I finally got around to watching Black Sheep last night. No, not the Chris Farley comedy, the independent New Zealand movie about weresheep.

Right off the bat I'll tell you, this is a niche film. If you don't like horror/monster movies, AND you don't like cheesy comedy, you will not enjoy this movie. As such, that probably alienates 95 percent of the standard movie audience and at least 60 percent of this film's target audience. The thing about this movie is that it knows what it is. The filmmakers didn't have any illusions that they were making the next Exorcist, Alien or Halloween. They knew they were making a cheesy, single-plot device film. For me, it seems that this freed the filmmakers from any of the pressures of making a "good" movie and wound up reveling in what they had.

New Zealand hippies are terrified of the dreaded mutant hand-puppet sheep.

Reveling in the "B" grade of their movie means that the mutant sheep embryo, obviously a hand puppet, goes over funny and still manages to be creepy because of the fact they were so obviously attempting to be funny. If it had been played serious, the cheesiness of the puppet and the scene would have blown the movie from the outset. But if you get past this point, taking it for what it is, then there's some real funny stuff in store for you. Flying killer sheep body tackles being one of them.

Looking into reviews, it's interesting to see the differences between what people are saying on IMDb and Rottentomatoes. The majority of detractors on IMDb seem flabbergasted that it's a bad movie. Come on folks, it's a movie about weresheep. Of course it's a bad movie. As I said, you've got to accept it for what it is. If you can't do that, you're just not going to enjoy it. However, those on Rottentomatoes seem to find the humor easily enough, but rate it poorly because they compared it to Shaun of the Dead, which was released shortly before this film. Kind of an unfair comparison, I think, but I do understand their point. Shaun has cast the mold for recent horror comedy and just about any independent horror/comedy film is going to be compared to it. The more apt comparison and contrast would be between the infinitely likeable Fido and Shaun of the Dead.

So, if you're apt to enjoy a good horror/comedy, if you were disappointed that Slither wasn't what it should have been, then you might just find Black Sheep to fill the niche you're looking for.

Monday, March 24, 2008


A sensitive subject is barbecue. There are so many different kinds, and many different people have many different ideas about just what makes good barbecue good.

Last Friday we went to a local barbecue joint: The Pig -N- Whistle, which has been serving ribs in Memphis since 1930. While Memphis barbecue is probably best known for Redezvous, Neely's and Corky's, there is a lot out there to choose from, and the more barbecue I have the more I realize that everyone likes their ribs just a little different.

My wife and I split a plate with a half-rack of ribs, some pulled pork and sliced, smoked kielbasa. It was, in my estimation, some of the best barbecue I've ever had. They offer their ribs in three styles: dry, just having a dry rub applied; wet, with barbecue sauce; or muddy, drenched in barbecue sauce and then topped with their dry rub. We had the muddy. I thought it was perfect. The ribs had a perfect texture, a little crust on the outside, falling apart tender on the inside. The sauce was great, sweet and tangy. And the rub was everything a dry rub should be, slightly salty and subtle.

However, my wife didn't like the muddy option. She thought the ribs were fantastic, but would have preferred the wet. My dad (my parents stayed with us a few days last week) would have preferred the dry. My mom thought the outside crust was too tough and would have like some ribs that were entirely "melt in your mouth" like Chili's or Applebee’s. I have friends who would have like a vinegar-based sauce and wouldn't have like the barbecue sauce at all.

So, food, like life, is about variety. I can swear up and down that the Pig -N- Whistle has the best barbecue, and my neighbor will swear up and down that Jim Neely's Interstate BBQ is the best. And, until I've tried everyone in town, I won't disagree. Even though I know that my taste and his are very likely to be quite different, I'm also quite willing to experiment. It is barbecue, after all.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

You're never too old to drink the Kool Aid

As many of you know, I'm going to school for my masters degree. One of my instructors is the "elder statesman" of the school's journalism department. In fact, this professor is set to retire at the end of this semester. There is a vast amount of information and experience to impart.

The problem? Huge lib. And I'm not saying that like it's something that I didn't expect or anything. No. My problem is that this instructor is one of those delusional libs who spouts a lot of half-fact theories. Now, to his credit, he does admit that a lot of what he talks about is opinion based, and I respect him for being forthright about that. The thing that really gets me, though, is when we talk about current issues, and he talks about the past as though it was some golden era.

For example, we were discussing corporations and government and their ability/methods of persuasion in communications. He went on a bit of a soliloquy where he lamented the past where "Corporations and government were basically good and had people's best interest at heart."

Wow. I just had to keep my mouth shut the rest of the night. I mean ... how old does a person have to get to to regress to that kind of naivety?

Look. I know that some things were better in the past and all that, but I hardly think it was corporate America or the government.

Just another month to go.

Friday, March 14, 2008

A theme song

Do you have a theme song? I do.

It's weird. I never set out to have one, but when I hear a certain tune, I just identify with it. The song comes about whenever I'm doing something I believe to be distinctly me. Five to ten years ago, that something distinctly me would most often be me standing outside my office, smoking like a chimney and shooting the shit with one of my soldiers. Nowadays, my theme songs tend to pop up when I'm doing something on auto-pilot -- surfing the net, doing a chore, etc.

What's weird is that I've also attached theme songs to inanimate objects at various times in my life. My first car was a blue Ford Fiesta piece of shit that I named Zot. It's theme song was KISS' "God Gave Rock and Roll To You." And that happened entirely by accident. See, the car had a hard time running. It would overheat often -- especially when it was raining. One day when it broke down, I had a friend in the car with me and the song playing on the radio when it died was that KISS song. So we started singing the song to the car, kind of as a funny, and after we sang a couple of lines, with the requisite hands on the dashboard (I do believe the laying on of hands was an important part of the process), the car started back up. Of course we found this hilarious, so we'd sing the song any time we were in the car just to be safe. It worked well until one day I threw a rod. Oh well.

My next car was wonderful. It was a 1965 Ford Custom 500. Similar to the Fairlanes and Galaxies. It was a huge, white, four-door monster. I loved it. It runs to this day and is currently owned by my brother (after passing to him, to my grandfather and back to him). This was a great car and its theme song was Lenny Kravitz's "Are You Gonna Go My Way?" The song just seemed to radiate from the car as I drove down the road. Its six-cylinder engine thumped in time to the beat of the song. Ultimately the car has had more staying power than Kravitz's career it seems.

I have even made up my own personal theme songs for some things. At my last job I had to use this old '99-era G3 Mac with Quark 3-point-something to do layout and design. My song was simple. If fact, it only had two words, repeated mantra-like to a speed-metal riff "You suck you suck you suck you suck you suck ..." ad nauseum.

It sucked.

Nowadays I drive a little white Toyota Camry to and from work. It has yet to speak to me. Our family vehicle is a big Dodge Durango. I'm not yet sure of its song yet either, but sometimes it seems to like Black Label Society. I'm not sold on that yet. We'll see.

Oh, what's my song? Right now it's Mr. Bungle's "Secret Song." I'll try and put up a link later today.

UPDATE: OK, I was able to find it on YouTube. This is the song Carry Stress in the Jaw. The Secret Song begins at mark 4:44.

So, any of you got one?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

God Bless America

This kind of plays into my earlier post about pledging allegiance, but what this post is really about is military photography.

Just look at this picture:

080214-N-8298P-165 MICRONESIA (Feb. 14, 2008) Petty Officer 1st Class Julius Mcmanus, assigned to Mobile Diving Salvage Unit (MDSU) 1, plants an American flag on the site where an American WWII military aircraft crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Deep sea divers are assigned to Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) accounting of all Americans missing as a result of the nation's past conflicts. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher Perez (Released)

I have worked for three of the four branches of the military and have worked closely with all of them at certain points of time. I was active-duty Army, a civilian Marine and now a civilian with the Navy. In all that time, I have worked in Public Affairs. Specifically in print journalism. I deal with photos all the time.

The most consistently outstanding photos I have ever seen any service produce come from the Navy. That's kind of hard for an Army dog to say, but just look at their photos page.

Not that the other services are slouches. If you check Defenselink's photo page you'll see that the military's photojournalists are top notch. But there's something consistent about Navy photography I seldom see in the other branches. Not only are their photos consistently well exposed (which could, and probaly is, due in some part to Photoshop) but they're also consistenly well framed. This can be a Photoshop thing also, but there are so many PJs out there who don't take the time to ensure they're cropping dramatically, either in the camera or after the fact.

Great stuff out there. Do yourself a favor and take the time to explore these sites.

Idol thoughts 3/11

Damn, Chikezie rocked the hell out of last night. I seriously had a hard time paying attention to anyone else because he rocked so hard.

I think that country girl Kristy Lee Cook is probably on her way out.

Appropriate snark at American Midol and Snark Raving Mad.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

UPDATE: Because I was overly cryptic, today was Douglas Adams' birthday. RIP.



Find out how totally 80's are you at LiquidGeneration!

h/t Maggie May


I have seen a lot of rhetoric lately from those who are "ashamed of America."

Well. I have never been ashamed to pledge my allegiance to my country. It saddens, sickens and angers me that there are those who were raised in this country who would feel this way.

Honestly, if you feel that way, we don't need you. We don't want you. Leave.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Snow days

Well, we got snow on Friday.

People in the South, generally, do not react well to snow. Everything shuts down. Drivers are crazy. Stores get ransacked. Not pretty.

To be fair, the snow fall was much heavier than I was anticipating. I'm not sure what the official count was, but I'd guess we got 4-5 inches.

The best thing about it was that the kids got to go out and play in the snow, something they've been dying to do for the past two years.

I have pictures and may post some later, but I don't have them right now.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


So, now that Hillary has a couple of wins under her belt again, the rhetoric is going to get more sane and coherent, right?

I just love it when one party does the same kind of things they accuse the other party of doing.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Since I've gone back to school and with the normal busy-ness of life, my wife and I decided some time ago to have date nights with the children. This way, we ensure some quality time is spent with them and we get to go out and have some fun too. Yesterday, I had the day off from work, so Daughter Number One and I took the opportunity to finally have a daddy-daughter date.

Rather than going to watch a movie or something like that, we hit our local Lasertron!

I can't begin to tell you how fun this was. The game area was like something out of Tron. Blacklights, disorienting sounds and flashing lights add to the surreality of the event.

It was just my daughter and I playing (gotta love homeschooling!), which was cool. But it would be a lot of fun if there were about 10-15 people playing. Much more that that and I think strategy would be thrown out and it would be a big cluster melee.

Back when I was in Army Advanced Individual Training at Fort Benjamin Harrison, IN, my company went to play paintball. There's this place in Indianapolis (or was, I'm too lazy to Google it right now) that's a converted underground parking garage. They have all these packing crates set up throughout and have added blacklights and all sorts of sounds. That was great fun. The best paintball experience I've ever had.

This laser tag game was reminiscent of that, but a bit more sterile. I wouldn't take my kids to a paintball game like that place until they were in their teens. This laser tag is safe and fun enough for them now.

The other cool thing I discovered yesterday was our local drive-in theater. A product of a by-gone era, these things have all but dried up and blown away. I was quite happy to see that we still had one up and running. Going to have to take advantage of it soon.