Forrest Fires - Archives
I understand very well the skill involved in intelligent Western boxing but I've always had almost zero interest in watching it it other than being enthralled by Ali when I was a kid (and still an admirer of his....also, I sometimes surprise myself with how compelling 'boxing movies' can be, even if a good number of them share many familiar plot points). I never wanted to learn how to box, either, although when I first sparred against a skilled boxer and he bloodied my nose I realized that my martial arts training to that point hadn't prepared me so well to face such an opponent.
I can't stand MMA as a subculture -- as a concept it's okay because it's no different in base philosophy, style-wise, than what Bruce Lee was saying in the '60s and what the Shaolin and other fighters were doing thousands of years ago, which is basically taking what worked and mixing stuff up. The reason I have a fairly visceral reaction to MMA is twofold, I think: (i) I first saw it emerge in something like its current form with the first UFC bouts, and was disgusted by the attitudes on display and (ii) I'm a traditional martial artist, primarily in Chinese styles. The second informs the first, really.
I have no doubt that many MMA enthusiasts are great fighters, but I have long resented them being lumped in with martial artists because it seemed (and here I admit that my views on this are based in the '90s MMA explosion, and for all I know now MMA types tend to be less objectionable in this respect) that they tend to be at odds with the most important aspects promoted by traditional martial arts of the Asian traditions, basically the majority of what people understand as 'martial arts' that can ultimately trace its origins back to Shaolin, Wudang, or older sources. There were practical reasons why those old dead Chinese dudes codified a system of behavior and philosophy to go along with the physical form of their martial arts, and without that tradition (humility being a big one) it's just fighting. As I said, some loudmouth braggart of a UFC type may well be a fearsome fighter, may well be more formidable than many true masters of traditional martial arts, but being a blowhard meataxe who can rip the beating heart out of an opponent has little to do with martial arts -- traditional martial arts evolved from practical necessity but, ultimately, what the fighting arts became had less to do with actual fighting than might be expected. That's especially so now when, for a great many situations in which you'd actually have to defend your life or somebody else's, traditional martial arts have little or no direct relevance (physically, I mean...the mental and emotional, and even spiritual, benefits of martial arts training could still make all the difference and, of course, in a hopeless situation in which you're literally outgunned, it's perhaps better to have a minuscule chance than no chance at all).
So there you go. Basically, I'm offended by the attitude of a great many MMA practitioners. Again, I may be mired in a misunderstanding based on the early days of the movement here in the US, but because of my job and where I do it I've had a lot of recent contact with MMA fans and exponents and the predominant vibe seems to be a hyper-testosterone-charged egofest based on the ability to cause physical pain (I have to say, though, that I've met some actual fighters and for the most part they do seem pretty decent, at least 'offstage'). The braggadocio fit Ali well, but I have a problem with it being applied to disciplines with roots in arts for which such behavior was anathema (yep, when Gracie jiujitsu was all the rage the BJJ proponents were every bit as bad, and led the way in establishing the tone). It's an extremely American thing -- as in Ugly American -- and it just makes my skin crawl. 'Regular' martial arts, beyond the MMA realm, has suffered enough in this country in terms of too many 'karate' (usually Tae Kwon Do) schools being belt mills, where you pay your money and you get your pretty colored belt and an unearned boost to the self esteem (ego), and in terms of instructors -- usually of spurious lineage -- who set themselves up so as to feed their egos and wallets in similar proportion while promoting the new, Americanized, anti-humble martial arts in which it's survival of the fittest, baby. No mercy.
One thing I think MMA did in the '90s (well, UFC, anyway) was hint that a lot of fights end up on the ground. That's likely true, despite the fact that those events tended to be skewed toward a BJJ win. I've never been very adept at groundfighting -- wrestling, anyway -- even before I started formal martial arts training. I could probably benefit from exploring that aspect of fighting more but, really, it's never interested me at all and I never did get into martial arts in the first place to become a fighter or adept at self-defense. I've since spent a lot of time training to fight, of course (I mean, beyond the basics...specialized fight training, and so on) but the emphasis has always been on staying off the ground, takedowns and the like aside, and using angles, strikes, and chin na (nerve attacks and the like, and grappling). Basically, my strategy in a real street fight would be to explode and knock the hell out of the bad guy as quickly and efficiently as possible, relying on speed to not let him get a grip on me, and then flee the scene. I'm strong and fast, with long arms and legs, and I have a lot of advantages because I'm big but learned how to fight like a small person, infighting included, with my prime weakness being not much in the way of defense against a wrestler other than hoping I'm fast enough and elusive enough to avoid their grip. Wrestlers are my Kryptonite, my only consolation being that if you don't go near a wrestler you're not going to get locked up by one....again, proof that the ultimate martial art is either not to be there at the time (tai chi's central tenet, if you ask me) or to get really good at running. I'd likely be at a significant disadvantage on the ground, against a dedicated wrestler or very good MMA fighter (and, by the way, I DID end up on the ground in a real fight, and almost lost the advantage I'd pushed that took the mofo down in the first place because he was one strong SOB and it took a lot of additional pain infliction before I could get him to loosen his grip and let me get back to my feet). But, again, that's not the point...self-defense ability is a decided bonus of what I've studied, and I'm arguably equipped to handle more than the average person, but if I really wanted to defend myself in this day and age I need to be toting a gun rather than relying on my Fists of Fury. Besides, I have had cause to use my martial arts skills a good numbe rof times in this town, as a result of my work here, and every time the end result was defusing a situation without anyone losing blood or body parts. Again, I'm not denying the proficiency of well-trained MMA types in a fight, I'm just far from being a fan of the kind of attitude that seems too prevalent in those circles, at least in this country.
Given that I've gone on about this way more than intended, I should probably additionally note that I'm not only not averse to MMA but have trained in mixtures of systems that, although not organized under the MMA label, are essentially the same. For example, one of my prime teachers taught me five-animals style kung fu as the core of my training but along the way he also taught me at least some of the elements of mok gar, wing chun, seven-star mantis, and related styles, and in the special fighting classes he included inputs from many other martial approaches (boxing included) assimilated by him and by his teachers -- basically, it wasn't JKD but it looked a lot like it, yet another example of inevitable convergence. Same with another teacher I had who primarily taught me Fukien white crane but also threw in a bit of the very complementary hsing-i, pakua, Chen tai chi, and Wah Lum mantis. Yet another instructor taught me northern Shaolin (the Ku Yu Cheung tradition) but included Wah Lum mantis, older Shaolin forms, and - in the fighting classes that were perhaps the most intense physical exercise I've ever endured (anyone who's studied martial arts at all might appreciate what that means) -- a personal style that drew heavily on the Goju-ryu and other hard-core karate that he'd originally done and that was the style of his local associates but that basically mixed up everything into one pretty amazing mix. One of his senior students also taught us some of the basics of Israeli krav maga, a MMA if ever there was one. Heck, look at my own martial arts résumé and (unfortunately, in that I tend to move to another part of the world just when things start getting interesting in the style) it's a fairly eclectic mix that includes everything from tae kwon do and tang soo do to white eyebrow (nasty stuff!) kung fu, and if I have a personal fighting style it's inevitably informed by everything I've learned...it's a MMA! And, yeah, I love training to fight and light- to full-contact sparring, even if there're an awful lot of things that really are (some MMA types seem to scoff at this kind of assertion) too dangerous to roll out for anything but the literal fight to the death. But, to me, fighting's a series of high-speed problem-solving exercises (when you get the answer wrong, you get whacked) and not something to be sought in 'real life,' and it takes a definite back seat to the empty-hand and weapons forms that are the heart and soul of traditional martial arts. Then there're all the intangibles, the parts of it all that count the most (internally), and to some extent that may be perhaps best understood by training in martial arts yourself.
As I said, conceptually I think MMA is not only eminently sensible but is inevitable and the only real way to maintain an effective fighting system (or non-system). 'Traditional' does not and should not mean fixed, or static. I kind of appreciate having a relatively entrenched starting point, in the forms and so on, but the martial arts are and always have been dynamic and even in the most 'traditional' styles you'll find considerable drift and divergence from what was taught hundreds or thousands of years ago. You just need to look at Jeet Kune Do (and Jun Fan, or whatever) to see the inherent difficulties in systematizing an open-source personal fighting approach though, and JKD has been afflicted with some of the factionalism that's particularly apparent in wing chun and in the remnants of the late, great Ed Parker's kenpo system (in most cases because ego or profit got in the way...good luck to martial arts instructors in making ANYTHING from their efforts, fiscally, but we all know some are in it for the money and engage in predatory practices to realize that goal). Even 'traditional' systems like those I've studies ultimately lead to a personal style within each student that, if they ever start their own school, will result in differences from the source being amplified with each generation of students, even if only as a natural consequence of emphasis on the parts of the art that fit the individual instructor's temperament and body (and, of course, sometimes THEIR teachers change what they teach as they grow older). Bruce Lee, as one example, merely accelerated this natural process within his own life by consciously mixing styles that, although hardly fixed (as revealed by the insistence of a multitude of Yip Man's students who claim to hold the keys to the only true wing chun style, all of them noticeably different), were evolving very gradually. He didn't come from nowhere; he came from a background of traditional arts. And if his is essentially a MMA system, or set of systems (concepts, really), I think it's interesting how his students are not known for being self-aggrandizing blowhards who loudly proclaim their superiority. Going back beyond Bruce, Wong Long, the alleged founder of the original mantis style, was adept at Shaolin kung fu (not a very specific term, I hasten to add: Shaolin, even within the original northern temple, was analogous to a university of martial arts and family and regional styles from all over China ended up there and were mixed and refined...MMA!) and was said to base his mantis style on the footwork of apes and the handwork of the mantis. Similarly, further back in the mists of time, Yue Fei mixed ancient military styles with other source, including a monk's style named faan tzi, to create for the battlefield the eagle claw system that's still practiced today. MMA is old news. It works. And if it doesn't, it adapts to work. I just don't like the concessions that've lately been made to Americans' apparent need to loudly proclaim how 'bad' they are...even if they are.
That is sooooooo 1776, dude.
We've moved on since then.
And we've got Tivo!
would do is repeal the 'Patriot' Act(s). I am beginning to think that this is not especially a priority held by those in charge.
I'd like to say that not doing so, and not belatedly introducing real universal health coverage, and not holding accountable those who so flagrantly trashed the Constitution in every way and broke as many international laws would deny Obama my vote in 2012. But, really, if he ended up being the Democratic contender I'd probably still vote for him. After all, I voted for him this time simply as a vote against the neocons, knowing that he was as bought-and-paid-for a corporatist as most of our other spurious choices and disillusioned that, in such a vast country, we're presented with so limited and dismal a pack of candidates. Am I really going to vote for a third party that has no chance, or not vote at all, just because there'll probably never be a political entity at that level that is going to really get me excited? Nope.
I knew Obama had an incredible morass to clean up, so I'm not expecting all good things to suddenly happen at once, but even if he hadn't inherited such an unholy mess I'd find it hard to be especially disillusioned by what many of us might characterize as his failings, if only because my expectations of his administration were low to begin with. It's nice to have a person in the Oval Office who is able to actually speak, and communicate clearly, aI'm sure he's a better person than many in his line of work, and I do like a couple of the things he's managed so far, but the bottom line remains a two-pronged problem that's at the heart of much of what is and will continue to be wrong with this country: (i) he and most others in the upper echelons in DC have more in common with each other (and their corporate masters, a term that once seemed kinda out there but is very obviously undeniable these days) than with We, The People (and thus it's only natural that they'd protect each other even when it seems to defy imagining) and (ii) we're not presented much of a real choice either in terms of the parties we vote for (increasingly bat-guano crazy far-right or the 'liberal' center-right are the only viable national-level alternatives) or the people offered as our candidates. The United Corporations of America, as a nation, needs something of a reboot.
Perhaps it's the wacko-Scientologist thing. I find Scientology pretty disgusting, not least because it's such a patently obvious scam (I mean far more so, and intended to be so from the very start, than what most people would call 'religion') but I can separate a person's works from their weirdness easily enough -- if that weren't so, I could never watch the work of sadly deranged religious maniac Mel Gibson or far-right neanderthals Robert Duvall and James Woods, and I'd be missing out on some quality work in doing so. Besides, there seem to be a few Scientologist celebrities who're both talented and apparently decent people: the late Isaac Hayes and John Travolta leap to mind.
Tom Cruise can be very stilted and one-dimensional as an actor (then again, so can many of the greats -- Brando and Olivier included, when they're just phoning it in for the paycheck) but, with the right property and the right director, he can be very good. The most recent film I saw him in was Valkyrie and I was very pleasantly surprised not just by the job he did but the overall quality of the production and the most surprising thing of all: a high degree of historical veracity. And I think the best thing about the great and eminently-rewatchable Tropic Thunder was Robert Downey, Jr, but Cruise was great in that wacky role he had. He's done a few very interesting and challenging roles that are worthy and he DOESN'T always play essentially the same character. To name a few, off the top of my head, he was very good in Rain Man, Born On The Fourth Of July, Magnolia (I barely remember it, remembering mostly that it seemed very weird, but I recall thinking it was a good part for him), Collateral, Vanilla Sky (yeah, STILL trying to figure out parts of that movie -- Cameron Crowe is brilliant, but definitely 'unique'), and a few others. I thought he was pretty decent in War Of The Worlds, too, and although I really like The Last Samurai I thought his character or his characterization (or both) was a little one-note and not especially interesting, but that really did turn out to be Ken Watanabe's film (and a great job HE did!).
Anyway, I'm not a huge Cruise fan, or a booster, but I think it's typical of DU for all the hipsters to pile on to negative comments made about people like him, valid or not. He may be a space cadet, personally, but he's brought some worthy roles to the screen over the years. That's all that should really matter, in the end.
Val Kilmer's Iceman in that gay-interest pilot movie (Brokeback Carrier?), small a part as it may have been, was WAY more interesting than Maverick, though...
"Those heroes that shed their blood and lose their lives.....You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours..... You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well"
- M. Kemal Ataturk
I read this thread with interest, not that it's any great surprise to me that a great many DUers have military backgrounds or are currently serving. It made me think, though, about the ubiquity of military connections and the inherent pointlessness in any political ideology claiming a monopoly on such. A good number of people (especially Americans) grew up 'military brats,' or served directly, but a many more have familial relationships that make all things military more relevant to them than might otherwise seem apparent. In my case, it's ANZAC Day that most directly connects me to a heritage of military service that runs back many centuries, despite my own civilian background.
ANZAC, in case you don't know, stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and was a bi-national military entity that formed in the wake of both nations' participation in the Boer War and quickly established a reputation for some pretty fearsome soldiering that held through the two World Wars. Those big colonials, a great many very much rugged men of the land, were generally considered truly tough men who you'd want on your side in a conflict. In places like Monte Cassino and Crete, in WWII, élite German paratroopers (some of the most phenomenal soldiers ever fielded by anyone) came up against ANZAC soldiers and, along with a lot of blood and destruction, a definite mutual respect ensued. I'm not sure they really make people like that any more. Today the main continuing tangible reminder of ANZAC is perhaps annual observance of the anniversary of the ill-fated landings at Gallipoli that started on April 25, 1915, basically the Down Under version of Memorial Day. To a great extent, the Gallipoli diversion (and, to an extent, the rest of the course of the War) played an important part in establishing national identities for both Australia and New Zealand. For Australia it was the first real act of national cohesion, the first real taste of battle, and the first real test of the Empire's relationship with the new Federation. New Zealand remained more loyal to the crown, opting out after WWII in the wake of the British abandoning Singapore and basically telling everyone in the neighborhood "sorry, chaps, but you're on your own," at which point the Yanks became the cavalry to the rescue.
In most countries, scratch anybody's surface and eventually you'll find a lot of family connections to the military. Conflict, and (ideally) the prevention thereof, is such a universal human condition. Sad, but true. Inevitable, I think. Regardless, it's insane to characterize military service in terms of some extreme on the political continuum. It's doubly insane to do so across cultures and ages; for example, what might tend to apply in the United States of America may be totally irrelevant to the People's Republic of China, or Fiji.
I was an Air Force cadet in another country for a brief time but neither my brother nor I, despite keen interest in military history (especially him) ever served in the military. When I was in grad school I seriously thought about entering the US Navy Reserve with a specialty in Intelligence -- would have made use of my skills and I would've entered as an officer -- but I just got way too busy with my dissertation research for that and then, soon enough, the magic cutoff age came and went. I may have never been in any war, but my genes have been through hell and back on battlefields the world around.
My father wasn't quite old enough for WWII and is from a country that has had no major military involvement since (though he was a civilian emergency dude during WWII, kind of a 'home guard' thing for older men and underage kids...he slept through the sirens only one time, that time being when the first and only Japanese bomber flyover happened in his area). You have to go back to my grandfather before you hit military, but from there I've got a long tradition of the officer-and-a-gentleman thing (on my mother's side, 'cos they were British gentry whereas my father's were wild Scotsmen who didn't figure prominently in written records, so I have almost no idea about that side of my family).
My maternal grandfather served with the ANZACs in WWI, starting his war with the initial landings at Gallipoli (morning of April 25, 1915) and continuing through most of the major battles of the Western Front (Cambrai, the Somme, Ypres, Paaschendale, Flanders, etc). He was pretty well decorated and field promoted (and gassed at the Somme in 1918...the doctors told him he'd be dead by 21, which proved about 74 years short of his actual lifespan) and tried to get back into the field in WWII but had to be content with a training role.
My maternal grandmother's father was the Head Librarian of the War Office in WWI (I remember her telling me about him being handed a white feather by some woman on the street, someone who obviously believed he was shirking his duty to King and Country) and I think right before that he was a Colonel in the Indian Army (British Indian Army), though maybe that was some other dude in her lineage...can't recall right now. Her father broke the 'Black Cipher' the Boers were using to communicate with Holland in the Boer War and he eventually ended up with all the cool medals: OBE, MBE, French Legion of Honor and, of course, one white feather that he took particular delight in.
Anyway, that side of the family was high-profile in the British upper-crust for intellectual achievement, primarily, in contrast to her husband's side where old status persists for centuries no matter how deserving the current batch of gentry is of it. I believe there were fewer in the way of high-profile military types on her side of the family, though if you take it far enough back you get to one of the favorite family stories I've been told, the one about the knight whose life was saved by the love of a Saracen princess. I've seen hard proof of more recent family tall-tales that I'd always previously assumed were at best only based in fact, so I'm fully prepared to accept that the wild tale from the Crusades might actually be essentially true...stranger things have happened, even within my own family tree.
Back on my maternal grandfather's side, there's pretty much a long line of military officers and knights and all of that. I know that two of his father's brothers died in action in India and his father was a lieutenant in The King's Own and fought in the Peninsula War against the forces of that Short Dead French Dude. One story that sticks in my mind is how, when he was designated Officer of the Guard, he followed the Duke of Wellington's order of the day that no officer was to leave camp unless in full uniform to such an extent that he had the sentry deny Wellington exit even though he knew full well who he was. Wellington saw him on a stretcher some time later, after he'd had part of his jaw shot away, and wasn't exactly filled with sympathy toward the man. I kinda like the man's sense of humor. Or duty. Or irony.
My grandfather's oldest brother, something like 40 years older than he was (and the tallest of many brothers, at 6'8"...pretty tall for the mid-19th Century!), wasn't in the military but was a war correspondent and artist during the Franco-German campaign of 1870. He was not a nice man, by all accounts (sumbitch lost all the family estates, too, ending over 900 years of continual ownership) and was so disliked by one prominent British novelist, who was in the same London club as he, that he gave his name to one of the classic literary villains. He also let John Singer Sargent share his art studio for a while -- in all, this very talented but fairly reprehensible man kinda reminds me of Forrest Gump in terms of the people he met along the way, if Forrest had been a pompous upper-crust Victorian British asshole who everyone seems to have hated. But I digress. Again. His son was another WWI hero who was always said to have died in battle but who, my grandfather found out 70 years later (just a year before he died), was actually disowned by his father after he married an Irish woman -- hence the fabricated glorious military death, because marrying an Irish person was just too shameful, I guess -- and he later worked as an Intelligence operative during WWII before dying in the late '60s in South Africa (actually on the same day my brother was born).
My grandfather's and my grandmother's mothers were warriors of a different sort: they were both Suffragettes. My grandmother's mother went to jail with Emily Parkhurst after throwing a brick through a window, and she had to be forcefed in jail 'cos she went on a hunger strike. You go, girl.
I can't necessarily speak for all of my ancestors -- that's a lot of people, in very different times and in a very different set of cultures -- but my grandmother was sure a liberal (she was university educated, not too common in England early last century, and an artist) and my grandfather was politically one even though he retained some of that Victorian crap he grew up with, being basically raised by nannies and the like ("children should be seen and not heard," for example -- he was a pretty bad grandfather, a terrible father, and only really cut out for one thing: war). He was perhaps an atheist, at least an agnostic, but I distinctly recall him having respect for one system of belief: Ba'hai. He apparently knew some dude who was high up in the faith back when he was a young man, and he respected him very much. Both my grandparents also did a fair bit of local theater and one of his sisters was a well-known stage actress back in the UK (much to her mother's chagrin...she ran away to the theater, literally, after escaping their house on a rope made of bedsheets) and back around 1930 my grandfather was hanging out with a lot of actors, making good friends with John Gielgud (in his memoirs he spells the name "Gielgood"...not sure he ever connected him with the great actor we know, 'cos Gielgud was just getting local attention for his first stage role around this time). They were both also massive pet fans, very much into animal rights and the like, and in the years I knew them it was primarily pussycats that lived with them.
My grandfather was a classic warrior, really only at his best when commanding men in battle, but he'd probably be to the left of many DUers in most meaningful respects. He hated the whole British antipathy and condescension toward colonials, too, which is a very common theme you'll find in reading about the Gallipoli campaign, especially, that basically saw Australia come of age and begin to reject the Empire. I mean he WAS British (he ran away to Australia at age 14), and of the upper class at that, but after his experiences in the trenches with his Aussie mates he considered himself British merely by accident of birth (this attitude started when he saw the way British officers treated the colonial troops and scorned their slouchy demeanor...this is, like pretty much everything he's written of his experiences, echoed faithfully in Peter Weir's excellent Gallipoli) and harbored a deep resentment of the British High Command who so willingly and stupidly sacrificed so many men, including his friends, in meatgrinder hellholes like Gallipoli and the Somme. To hear him indignantly say "I'm an Australian" in his perfectly cultured upper-class English accent was quite something, though he was serious about it and, much as he at the time reveled in the killing he needed to do in the War, he hated what battle did and even more so when the battle was conducted so painfully wrongly.
Oh, yeah: one of my other military ancestors, albeit by marriage, was Jesus. No, really! He married one of my grandfather's sisters (she was tall, too, at 6'). He played Jesus in an early epic (I've heard it was quite an accomplishment, but I've never seen the film) shot on location in Jerusalem, Syria, and Egypt in 1912 by a Canadian director. He was primarily a stage actor (even toured with Lily Langtry!) but the film sure stuck with him. He fought with distinction in WWI and then went back on the road, philandering and acting around the US while his wife stayed back in the UK and had success with producing corsets and other underthings, including some for royal bottoms. I can't for the life of me think where I saw it, but I distinctly remember reading that he began to think he was Jesus, during the fighting in Western Europe, and that (convinced that his divinity protected him from sure death, and it DID seem like he was bulletproof, which is one reason he racked up so many medals...no fear of death!) he basically went off the deep end with a major-league, terminal Messiah complex thereafter. Talk about Method acting...
Anyway, lots of military types thereabouts on that side of the family. Almost every man since at least King Canute's time in my mother's direct family lineage, and on the branches, had a military commission. Of my father's side I know little. I do know that one of my Scottish ancestors was supposedly at Culloden (1746), which is kinda scary because one of my Brit cavalry-officer forebears was also there...if they'd met, I might not exist.
I also know that my father's stepfather was a Royal Navy man who later served with another Commonwealth navy and his career spanned both WWI and WWII. He was on a ship that was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and somehow stayed afloat despite a gaping hole in its bow. I didn't know much of his service record until after he died -- same with my grandfather, who wouldn't talk about the war (and, as is common, maintained that many who do talk about the war a lot were never really at the front end of it) -- but seeing all the pictures he took of far-flung places like Egypt and China in the first part of the century, among many others, as well as photos of naval battles, was pretty amazing. To me he was just this kind old man who puttered around in his workshop all the time. Kind of like a childhood friend's father, who was a very jovial and really tiny little dude who'd been a British commando during WWII and taken part in missions that would have had Rambo wetting his pants. You never know what people's stories are. You sure as hell can't tell by looking.
And that's what these knuckledraggers on the Right seem to consistently fail to recognize, among many other things. In general, the louder and more macho the meathead, especially one wrapping himself in militarism and tales of exploits with the Special Forces or whatever, the less likely it is that they've ever seen combat or even served in peacetime or in rear-echelon positions. I've seen plenty of examples of these types, especially in the US. They don't amuse me. I may not have served in any military, but I'm offended by these poseurs to an inordinate degree...they're like grave robbers. Same with the fake Vietnam vets and their like -- they're scum, pure and simple.
There's plenty of evidence, here and in many other threads, of DUers and others on the leftish side of the American spectrum who have put themselves in harm's way in service of their country or some other cause. And those of us who haven't done so invariably have truckloads of relatives and ancestors, including those who might be labeled progressive by their times or by ours, who also served. This doesn't take away from right-wingers who have served...it just seems like they're the ones who make the most noise about militarism but put their bodies where their mouths are a little less often, at least in this country as it's been the past two or three decades.
I know what I'm talking about. My grandfather was a Sergeant York type and my great-uncle was none other than Jesus.
P.S.: Happy ANZAC Day. Watch Gallipoli if you have not seen it.
My grandfather in 1914:
"Gallipoli affected us all for life. We left 7594 of our men, and 2431 New Zealanders, buried on those bloody barren hills!" (Gallipoli, 1915)
"At last the Canadians were sent to relieve us and the first terrible bloodbath was over for us. We lost a total of 22,826 men in this battle. The Somme wasn’t a fight but outright bloody murder. I cannot bring myself to blame the Germans -- they were our foe -- but I do blame the inept commanders of our Allied Army Divisions, who were supposed to protect our flank and didn’t!" (The Somme, July 1916)
It was a rough day for the Freepers. They could barely make mince meat, a sure sign of low self of steam if ever I seen one. And then the sound of an ambulance, rushing to the scene to a chorus of "Whoa is me!" and other exclamations of shock and awe. Nobody seemed to know exactly the fate of the victim, other than that he was in tensive care. One woman claimed that he was Escape Goat. Another said that he use to BE someone, but that she could care less exactly who.
It's a funny thing, you know: the expectation that we must persist, that we must tow the line, is so often taken for granite. A mute point though it may be, I found myself doing a complete 360 on the issue. So what is my manifesto, you ask? Well, you of the baited breath, you over there chomping at the bit...in one foul swoop I expose myself, butt naked before the world, as an inveterate Pre-madonna, excedra, powered by an abundance of expresso that supposably will keep me awake long enough to finish this even though I only inhale the fumes.
Irregardless, and pacifically with regard to my blatant exposure - viola! -- I refuse to any longer be administrated, orientated, and certificated. I could of, should of, and would of had a new leash on life alot earlier if I'd only taken action when, upon first stumbling across the reference in my local libary, I'd made the change then. The details are mine to disperse as I see fit but for now all you need know is that Miss Febuary and I are, for all intensive purposes, absconding to an undisclosed location to begin therapy designed to ensure healthy prostrate function (mine, of course) for the rest of my life. Low and behold, I gather that some think it will be awhile before the therapeutic effects become noticeable, but I can count up on some immediate positive results and, frankly, I think it beyond the pail that this has become griss of the public mill. It's, less we forget, her business what she does with her per say. Here, here! I should have did that along time ago...I should've went down there, for a little Doggy Dog with my rod iron, no matter the risk of a rain of terror, a long time ago. I would've shined, I know. And if you don't beleive that, well, you've got another thing coming.
My point of you, understand, may well keep you in tender hooks -- with or without the entire topic of contra section, that we'll skip for now as we continue to conversate -- but it all hanged upon the law of God hisself. You may be fixin' to get on with a hew and cry relative to this -- and, boy howdy, I snuck that one in as part of a particularly heart-wrenching moment, but I see it as full proof.
I will, essentially, decimate anyone -- including the flounder of this group of disinterested loosers, to -- who seeks to effect the outcome by withholding my personal affects. I ma growing wary of the balling here, especially when it peeked as Obama's victory became eminent, Baring the burden with my usual flare, trying to maintain my exorbitant nature in the face of adversity and of the many adversaries who have laid discretely in wait for me, I have prevailed. But its at a cost, and that cost exerts it's price here, their, and everywhere that you're oral attacks originate from. They're IS no Statue of Limitations on such behavior, however, and all threw the past few years I have scene one capitol idea after another die as they were saled out of site.
I am not -- I repeat, NOT -- over-exaggerating here. The situation is like a hot water heater set to blow unless you input the right PIN number -- and here, as an aside, let me recommend that it not be the same one you use in your ATM machine -- and spread far and wide the HIV virus that the terraists planted within. This is, you might think, a very unique and unlikely situation but -- rest assured -- it happens at least once a weak.
So, with that, I admonish you to drive safe, because hearing "you got here quick" is no substitute for actually being alive to be there. Yes, I know that talk of mortality can be an edgy subject for many, but please don't take it personal. In fact, this last suggestion is the ultimate one I can think of as my penultimate advice to you.
totally escapes you.
How about "fuck you." Does that resonate?
simply send me a PM in which you express your gratitude for me holding down the pinkish end of the melanism spectrum. Yes, I am a White Person and I am trained to deal with such situations.
Operators are standing by.
Cash donations accepted, too, of course. And flowers. And strippergrams.
along my route to work (nowhere near the Strip but out along Sunset Road, the road that runs along the south side of the airport...one group was outside the main post office there, not surprising because it was tax day and that place is busy then).
I worked today doing the Elvis-impersonator thing at a place on the Strip, so I left the house all gussied up in Elvis attire and already decided that if, in the course of my workday,I ran into any of these teabagging morons I'd read of I wouldn't tolerate their presence. As it turned out, I sang most of the time today and didn't take many pictures with tourists, though I would have refused to take a photo with a teabag-bedecked idiot just as I would with anyone else exhibiting offensive clothing or demeanor. I couldn't miss them when I was driving to work, though (not in the plunging-my-car-into-the-crowd sense....slime though they may be, that's possibly just a tad beyond the pale).
I saw two groups of right-wing (and assorted clueless) morons on the way to work and, several hours later, on the way back. I had early warning of their presence and diminished mental capacity when I saw all the US flags waving, that very attractive national symbol having lately been monopolized by jingoistic meatheads whose views and willingness to adopt the ready-made views of media bigots stand in direct opposition to the society that the flag was supposed to represent. Sure enough, the signs that I saw made prolific use of the word 'socialist,' no matter that a great majority of those assembled undoubtedly have no idea what socialism is and the vast majority are dumb enough to believe that corporatist Obama is a socialist. Other signs proclaimed ironic bits of moronity like "Give the country back to the people," "NObama," and so on, as well as similarly point-free blather about taxes, but the 'socialist' theme prevailed. I'm still not entirely clear on what they're protesting -- I'm sure the same is true of many of the people with placards -- but I wouldn't surprised if, for some, it was that the President is black. I'm not up on such things, so it's entirely conceivable that I missed the memo stating that 'socialist' is the new 'negro.'
Anyway, because they're enemies of the entire planet, no matter how clueless many may actually be about what they think they believe, I had no choice but to raise my hand to the car's window and preset them with a single-digit counterargument, protected by the same Amendment that allows them to publicly reveal how dense (or hateful) they are. This was the extent of my opposition to these clowns, paling in comparison to the adventuires some DUers seem to have had, but, hey, I was in a hurry to get to work, a hurry to get back and get the suit off, I was wearing a nice clean outfit not to be sullied by contact with overtly right-wing trash, and it's not like I had any desire to walk among them and risk any of them touching me or risk inhaling any of the filth they were spewing. So a drive-by birding would have to do.
I drove the entire length of both gatherings with said salute extended, and did the same on the way back (when they seem to have added a bunch of Gadsden "don't tread on me" flags, shamefully at odds with the culture that produced the original but at least featuring an appropriate color field for right-wing chickenhawks). I held the ocular attention of one pig, who was wielding a sign that stated "don't spread the wealth spread the work ethic" (no commas in the original, sorry), for an especially application of the single-digit salute that locked my eyes on his in such a manner that I could feel his fear. Yeah, baby -- don't fuck with the King, fool. This -- being given the finger by Elvis -- was probably a new experience for these shitheads; being open to new experiences is good, inherently, so I like to think that I helped these unfortunate wastes of protoplasm elevate their thinking and perhaps even begin to evolve.
I didn't spare the children -- too hard to turn the digital counterprotest on and off as I drove past them, anyway -- but I figured that was for the best because perhaps they'll start to wonder why the Elvis dude seemed so upset about mommy and daddy, and will go on to do a bit of research and subsequently learn that right-wing wackjobs are fundamentally despicable and scorned by civilized society the world over. Besides, with all of the spurious slogans that involved words like 'socialist' and 'Muslim,' and undoubtedly many code words for 'scary back man,' I figure a bit of the old freebird rates rather low on the scale of Offensive Things these children were subjected to out there. In this way, I modestly submit, I may have helped these fresh-faced children break free of the political and social dysfunction that's exerted such a hold on their parents, freeing them before it is too late: "hmmm...mommy and daddy must be fuckwits...I believe I shall take steps to ensure that I will avoid that fate." If I have saved even ONE white, suburban American child from becoming just another Buschjugend pawn, then my work there was done.
As to the adults, if such a term is even applicable: fuck them all, the fucking fuck-knuckles. They're scum, and may they reap what they so richly deserve.
Shocking. But, then again, perhaps not.
I've been seeing a lot of it here, and in relation to this topic it's nowhere more obvious than on the part of those who seem to see the pirates as victims (yeah, in a way, they are) worthy of forgiveness and perhaps even milk and cookies for their adolescent mischief (no, they're not). The bigger picture, and this has not exactly been a secret these past few decades, is that piracy is and has long been alive and well in several corners of the world. It is a significant concern -- ask anyone who's run afoul of these scurvy scum or had a close call -- and it will remain one long after the collective American attention, fleeting though it may be, has drifted on to the next news extravaganza that involves Americans front and center. Further, there seems a strong tendency for those who spout off about how misunderstood and hard done by are the young pirates of Somalia to ignore (or be ignorant of) the fact that pirates run rampant in other parts if the world, including those a lot closer to our glorious Homeland. Piracy is a significant concern far from Somali waters, too, though you wouldn't know it to read these DU threads that seem to focus on absolutist views of what is the problem and what are the solutions in Somalia. The writer of this bit from The Nation may want to forget about pirates but a great many people in less comfy parts of the globe can do anything but that, this fact handily highlighting the inherent navel-gazing fuckwittery of yet another self-satisfied American 'liberal' possessed with words far more clever than his thoughts.
And, yes, Somalia is FUBAR to the max, but taking direct action against the pirates -- basically taking them into custody and killing those who resist or who threaten the lives of innocents -- does not translate to nuking the hell out of Somalia or otherwise waging indiscriminate war against targets both appropriate and apparently random there or anywhere else. Hopefully the people now in charge are not prone to that. I mean, Somalia may be different in that there's little to no meaningful government in charge, so the pirates are as much at least a de facto part of the political infrastructure as anyone, but the same is not true of other locales afflicted with pirates -- Indonesia, for example. Pirates are, typically, extragovernmental free agents and conducting a campaign against them is no different than going after drug lords, gang leaders, and the like. Destroying pirates' ability to go about their nefarious business does not mean that we or any other nation needs run amok and is a particularly appropriate mission for lightly-armed special forces personnel (or, in problem areas at sea, a 'honey-pot' ploy, teaching crew how to make a lot of Molotov cocktails without blowing themselves up, or ferrying small detachments of multinational soldiers to ships once clear of no-weapons zones).
Further, those of you who seem to see the pirates as some sort of freedom fighters, or as the very least as helpless victims of circumstance, might do well to visit the real world now and then. Pirates are criminals, typically particularly amoral and vicious ones.
Tom Cruise can go either way (no, I don't mean in reference to those rumors), but in the right property, with the right director, he can be very, very good. He's not massive talent, but he's very capable and has nailed some good roles. I recently saw Valkyrie and was suitably impressed, mainly impressed by the entire project and its relative adherence to what actually happened, but he did acquit himself well as von Stauffenberg. And, yeah, Tropic Thunder was enlightening.
Jon Voight has turned in phenomenal performances and can even make a bit of an impact when, as he's often done in more recent years, basically phones it in. Yeah, he went totally nuts at some point, but he perpetually deserves the title 'great actor.'
Mel Gibson has long been not only a talented and versatile actor on screen but, like a good number of others, has acquitted himself well as a director. I never saw the blood-Jesus film, starring religious nutcase Jim Caviezel (or whatever the spelling is) who conveniently shares initial with the Anglicized Savior, and have no desire to, but Mel Gibson is just another very talented person afflicted by a few too many old demons that eventually got the better of him.
And Robert Duvall? One of the best ever in movies. For that matter, the increasingly bat-guano crazy James Woods is and always has been a truly excellent actor who, like Duvall, typically improves any film in which he appears. Pity that both are so far off the deep end, but knowing that does not diminish my viewing experience.
And if anyone really wants to enjoy Dennis Miller on screen, get hold of Murder At 1600 and play over and over the scene in which he takes a bullet. Most gratifying...
Damn. My worst nightmare. Invisible pirates!
I thought ninja were scary...
You're right, though. This doesn't excuse their behavior -- many people in desperate circumstances, in dysfunctional nations, do not make the conscious choice to prey on others. But you're undeniably right. Now, trying to figure out what can be done with Somalia, especially if at least a good chunk of the general population really is resistant to a change for the better (I know little of the place, but I've seen a few snippets that make me wonder about how salvageable it is in its current and recent state) seems like one of those Gordian Knot kind of exercises.
I'm no fan of jingoism, to say the least, but, really...come on....how likely is it that these pirates hadn't seen even ONE Hollywood action film in which some bulletproof special-ops veteran reluctantly and successfully takes on an entire military force in some Nation of Generic Dusky-Skinned People without even messing up their stage makeup? Navy SEALs may not be at all like that notorious fake and general f***wit, Steve Segal, but that doesn't mean that they're less capable or more hyped than their celluloid depiction.
I have zero sympathy for pirates, at least at the point where they commit the act. Yeah, there's default human empathy and all that, especially when it now so obviously appears that the pirates started out as members of PETA and Greenpeace who just got frustrated by the environmental depredations of Western capitalists, but when they commit piracy they're choosing to put their lives in at least as much risk as is perceived by the crews they captured. But if they'd kept their heads on straight (definitely no sniper-related pun intended here) perhaps they would have realized that you can't go home again -- warlords, no boat, and all that -- and that they were four guys with light weapons in a lifeboat facing down the most powerful navy ever fielded and that the only course of action that made any sense would have been to surrender to the Yanks rather promptly and count on them not repatriating. Sure, the US military has not been averse to monumental blunders and failures -- Grenada was even a close call for a while, believe it or not -- but I think anyone who's observed US military action to any extent at all would expect any such potential failure to be followed by the navy just blasting the entire lifeboat from the water, hostage and all, and then counting on some talking suit in DC to spin the result. Basically, staring down and playing chicken with any navy, let alone a really big one with access to all kinds of high-tech toys that might enable them to subtract a few pirates from the planet, as well as Marines and SEALs, is not too bright. What the hell were they thinking? Were they that greedy, or that afraid of the warlords? Surrender to America. We've got Twinkies! And the Playboy Channel!!
...polluted soil and ocean, no way to make a living, hardly any food and water, no hope."
It's always important to bear in mind that we don't really know who we're talking to here. The poster you're referring to may know too well what it is like to grow up in such a desperate environment. They may come from Michigan.
Putting the 'mod' in 'module'
This is what a custom module looks like.
Oh, look....it shows pictures, too:
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