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Thursday, December 30, 2010

US Military Jargon Part 2

It's been a while since I posted the first installment from my website. Here's some more.


A-Team: The component of a Special Forces unit that carries out the operations.

Airborne: Adjective term for a paratrooper or unit composed of paratroopers.

Air land: Transport of troops by fixed-wing aircraft, usually to an airfield or landing strip secured by airborne troops who dropped behind enemy lines and took it by force.

Air mobile: Verb: To transport troops by rotary-wing aircraft (helicopters). Adjective: Troops who normally move by this method. noun: A mission, or component thereof, utilizing such troops/method.

APC: Armored Personnel Carrier.

ASAP: As soon as possible.

Ate up like a soup sandwich: Sloppy; poorly planned and/or executed. Usually referring to an operation, mission, or event. "That whole Somalian fiasco was ate-up like a soup sandwhich."

Ate up like a football bat: Usually refers to an individual who is hopelessly stupid or confused in a given situation, and has everything bass-ackwards. "Did you see Dumb and Dumber? That Jim Carey is ate-up like a football bat!"

AWOL: Absent Without Official Leave.

The complete glossary is viewable here.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Gratuitous Blood & Thunder: The Expendables

Okay, it took me longer than I planned, but I finally saw it. The secret to enjoying this testosterone-laden flick is to not take it too seriously. Don't look for any profound messages--there weren't supposed to be.

The script was like a fusion of Megaforce and some of the paramilitary adventure fiction from the 1980s. You know--that decade when the big name actors in this cast (Stallone, Swarzenneger, Willis, Lundgren, etc...) were lighting up the box office with huge Hollywood explosions. During a recon for some merc work in a Third World dictatorship, Sly Stallone and Jason Statham inadvertantly befriend the altruistic daughter of the dictator before making a grand exit from the nation and basically saying (with actions-speak-louder-than-words panache), "take this job and shove it."

But back stateside, Sly has an attack of conscience about leaving the fair damsel (Giselle ItiƩ) at the mercy of the dastardly despot and his Evil Capitalist Puppetmaster. He's going back in to get her, doggone it, alone with no plan. But even Sly might have trouble taking on an entire nation by himself, so his merc buddies come along for the pyrotechnic ride. Jet Li, the most mercenary of these mercenaries, is the first to put friendship before money and commit to stick with his comrade come napalm or high pungis. Now you have an adequate excuse for a martial arts shoot-em-up Hollywood Fireball Fest, and director/star Stallone delivers, big-time.

I was expecting it to be far more obvious tongue-in-cheek parody of the genre, but they took a slightly more marketable route, ensuring it's not SO stupid that young adults wouldn't like it. But it's got just enough stupidity, delivered with such finesse, that I had a grand ol' time and laughed out loud several times.
The martial arts segments would have been much more pleasing without all the avant garde camera work, and I could have done without all the close-ups on Stallone's jewelry. But there was a little bit of everything for action flick buffs: A smorgasboard of cinematic fight scene superstars who all get some thumping time; a car chase in which a beautiful old fat-fender stepside hot rod pickup gets shot and smashed to pieces; more exploding ordinance than the Falklands campaign; and some gratuitous gore that is either horrific or hilarious, depending on your mood and personality disorder.

Once upon a time, I fantasized about making a mindless action flick with a cast like this...but when they were all a little shorter in the tooth. Along with Sly, Arnie and Dolph I would have cast Norris, Bronson, Eastwood, Van Damme, Ventura, Weathers, Fred Williamson and Jim Brown. Can you imagine the mayhem and blood-curdling dialog? If my time machine could go back far enough, I'd draft Lee marvin and Robert Mitchum, too.

This isn't The Dogs of War, nor is it Commando. It's not completely sober, but it doesn't descend into campiness, either. What it can be, if you kick the girls and snobs out of the Man Cave for a couple hours, is a lot of fun.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Last Legion

Many times, when a creative work is predictable on more than one level, I step away from the experience disappointed or even irritated. Just from watching the previews of The Invention of Lying I'm pretty sure what's going to happen at the end; and I have no desire to watch the film makers connect the dots. But The Last Legion kept me glued to the seat. I mean, I needed to get up and relieve myself, take some dishes to the kitchen and accomplish some quick bedtime chores--and I could have paused the DVR to do so--but I wouldn't pull myself away from the story on screen.

But don't take this as a glowing endorsement. My enthrallment had more to do with the subject matter than any aspect of production.

From the introduction of the young Caesar and his elderly mentor, the mention of a certain object and a certain island, I knew what the end of this movie was gonna be. In fact, if the ending had not accomplished what I expected, I would have been very disappointed. (Ooh, I just watched the trailer and it TOTALLY BLOWS the ending. If you haven't seen it and don't like spoilers, don't watch the preview for this flick. Same person who made the T2 [Terminator 2] trailer must have done this one.)

Prepubescent Romulus Augustus is crowned Caesar as Rome is falling to the Goths. A Roman general, Aurelius, is assigned to protect the young emporer. That means rescuing him from captivity at an island fortress, and spiriting him away to find protection with the 9th Roman Legion--the last known surviving Roman garrison. Accompanying them are Aurelius's faithful soldiers; the aforementioned mentor, Amrosinus; and the obligatory amazon superninja.

This last character was kept gender-masked while demonstrating her combat prowess, licking 50+ times her weight in savage berserking Goths, until an outdoor bathing scene that I suppose was intended to surprise and tittilate all at once. Yawn. I didn't see this coming from a mile away. More like four miles. I did wind up liking this character, despite myself. I credit that all to the actress, who wasn't given much to work with. Throw a rock in southern California and you'll hit an attractive enjenoue; but there's something endearing about this woman's performance, confined though it was.

She wasn't the only one with a part lacking potential. Aurelius might as well have been a cardboard cutout, for all the personality he was written with. Mira and Aurelius hook up eventually, to nobody's surprise, though it's impossible to see what quality Mira found so irresistable in him. Besides him being the leading man, that is.

Anyhoo, you're not going to find any element of film making better than average in this flick, but if you have an interest in European history, legend and lore, you might still enjoy it. I did. Not a bad way to waste a rainy afternoon.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Great Exciting/Suspenseful Sequences in Movies

I'm not as big of an action movie  fan as I used to be, but there are still scenes I enjoy watching over and over again because of the rush they generate. I'm gonna list some here in no particular order. Maybe I'll add to the list down the road.


I already discussed this film in detail, but this scene is worth mentioning again. A midget kingpin and his goons show up at Rorshach's cell to exact revenge under the cover of a prison riot. Meanwhile Night Owl and Silk Specter infiltrate the prison to bust their comrade out. Rorshach's calm resourcefulness in dispatching his enemies is inspiring. Night Owl and Silk Specter wipe out an army of rioting prisoners unscathed with bare hands (and feet...OK, and they have gloves on, too) using Matrix-like martial arts techniques. It's all quite incredible, but then, these are superheroes, aren't they?


As one might expect, our heroine attempts escape from the giant gorilla at first opportunity. But there's a lot more than just one danger on Skull Island, and she is quickly trapped by less noble of the island's prehistoric fauna. When Kong arrives just in the nick of time to save her, you may be tempted to kiss the big furry lug. And it's increasingly obvious from this point on that Kong is the hero of this screen version, not the monster (that would be CarlDenham/Jack Black). My apologies for the comical pop-up balloons--I couldn't find an untampered version on YouTube.


There's a whole lot to like in this retro-cliffhanger adventure flick, but to me this scene defines heroism. Jones' determination and tenacity are larger than life as he commandeers the truck bearing the Ark from a squad of Nazis with two-fisted dispatch. He's shot, beaten, thrown from the speeding vehicle and dragged along the ground at 40 miles-per-hour, all while being chased by more Nazis. But he never gives up until the Ark is under his protection once more. Indie was hard as woodpecker lips.


Spielberg took too much creative license later in the film, I thought, but he sure captured the pandemonium of the Omaha landing as well as anyone could who didn't live through it, probably. Nice hand-held camera work puts the audience in grunts-eye-view. The muted colors approximated the dreary weather conditions (a lull in the months-long showers) of D-Day. Plenty of blood and gore to horrify or gratify. Reivum losing his B.A.R. in the English Channel was a nice touch, as was the magazine-slap against the helmet once he found a replacement.


If you can swallow the idea of a liquid metal cyborg EVER being possible, then nothing in this flick is too incredible. Adolescent John Connor (future savior of humanity) is on a dirt bike, being pursued by aforementioned liquid metal terminator in a Freightliner. Pretty doggone intense, already, and the musical score enhances it. Riding to the rescue is reprogrammed old-school terminator Arnie on a Harley, one-handing a lever action shotgun along the way. It's a white-knuckler. 


Even in the best fight correography, you'll see stunt men and actors standing around waiting to get hit when it's their turn. I hate that. It happens in this flick, too, but not as blatantly as in some. And nevermind the paper-thin plot. This is an action/martial arts flick with Bruce Lee's son, and the film makers figured that was enough. Toward the end is a hand-to-hand showdown between Brandon Lee and a diminutive Kung Fu master who has played non-speaking combat roles in many action flicks. At the conclusion of this fight scene, the audience applauded. Unless you frequently attend Disney films with large preschool crowds, you probably don't experience that very often.


A tall, svelte Swedish model is witness to one of the "Night Slayer" murders. Cobra (Sly Stallone) has had to thwart one of the two attempts on her life thus far. Now he's escorting her through the city when the Night Slayers strike again. In real life, they'd have bitten off way more than they could chew trying to chase down Cobra's wicked nitrous-snorting V-8 powered '50 Merc sled. But before the obligatory Hollywood destruction of a fine automobile, there is some wild, gratifying stunt driving. My favorite: Cobra has had enough of all the damage to his gun-metal-gray paintjob and, at-speed on a Los Angeles freeway, executes a 180 while jamming into reverse. The Merc is still moving in the right direction, but facing rearward so Cobretti can fire a submachinegun burst at the pursuing pickup truck. Don't ask me why the pickup performs a somersault. With magnificent unbroken rhythm, and still at-speed, the Merc 180s back into the correct orientation and resumes tearing up the freeway. HOOWAH!


Probably the best car chase ever filmed. A Ford and Mopar getting sideways and wreaking mayhem in the streets of San Francisco. There are twists and turns gallore--both literal and figurative. 440 Charger is pretty much stock; 390 Mustang sounds a little hopped up. Listen to McQueen (during his driving shots) bounce all over the valve float before each upshift--what a knucklehead. Suspensions were de-tuned to get more skidding action for the cameras. And of course they had to destroy another superb machine for the finale.


I can't find this clip in its originally compiled form. Basically the Saxon knights get spanked by the Normans in the very first joust. A bad day for all but the ruling elite...until a lone knight arrives, who refuses to remove his helmet and reveal his identity. He counts himself a Saxon, and is asked to strike the shield of the Norman he wishes to challenge. He rides around bouncing his lance tip off every Norman shield in the lists. Needless to say, he accounts for himself very well in the following jousts. Aside from the period-correct trumpet fanfare, there is no music during this scene, yet it keeps you on the edge of your seat quite nicely. Even though the moustache-twirling of the Normans is rather over-the-top.


Oh, how I wish I could find this clip in English. I'll translate some of the important lines:

Ransome Stoddard (Jimmy Stewart) enters wearing an apron, carrying a steak platter. He freezes upon seeing Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) and his henchmen in the restaraunt.

Valance: Well lookee at the new waitress! (Guffaw, snicker, etc.)

Valance trips Stoddard on his way by. More guffaws and snickers, then Tom Doniphon (John Wayne) side-steps into view.

Doniphon: That's my steak, Valance.
Valance: (Scared at first, then snickers.) You heard him, dude: Pick it up!
(Stoddard begins to pick it up.)
Doniphon: Pilgrim, hold it! (To Valance.) No, Liberty: YOU pick it up.

This Spanish dub destroys the tension of this scene, which is palpable in the original.


Why an advanced civilization would ever build armored vehicles on mechanical legs instead of tracks or wheels, I can't say. But it makes for a nifty sci-fi action scene with some swashbuckling derring-do.


You're rolling through Tokyo on a speeding bullet train when a man in a suit, wielding a katana (samurai sword) steps into the car and says, "Attention ladies and gentlemen: Dangerous men are coming from the front of the train. You need to move to the rear...NOW!" Ah, the rest is just haiku in motion.


This clip mostly speaks for itself. Australian Ford Falcon with a clutched roots blower (??), hammer-down on the Wasteland Highway. You can see they began the destruction of the best machine early in this movie.

I'm sure I missed some good ones. I'll think of more for a later installment, and feel free to suggest some of your favorites.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Cowardice of Race Card Libel

Warning: Political rant follows, which is sure to offend somebody.

M.R. Kayser, like so many indie authors, is unknown and has a long, uphill fight before him to start generating sales of his book. When you don't have money to advertise, the most effective form of advertising (so far as I know) is to get book reviews to spread word-of-mouth. That's what this author was doing when he checked his Amazon page to copy the blurb he had posted there. To his horror, he saw a new tag that said "anti-semitic."

Tags, for those who don't know, are a tool Amazon uses to help shoppers find books in their area of interest. If you do a search on Amazon for "special forces," for instance, one of the titles that search turns up should be Hell and Gone. Now let's say when you visit that book's page, one of Amazon's recommendations for similar titles catches your eye, so you click on that. While looking over that page, you glance at the tags and see "white supremacist literature." You might even see a list of recommended similar titles including Mein Kampf and The Turner Diaries. If you're like me, you would quickly hit the back button and file a mental note to never, ever buy that book.

I've read The Curly Wolf from cover to cover. I also happen to know the author, personally. They are barking up the wrong tree. And so far as his book is concerned, there are no Jewish characters, good or bad; nor is Judaism ever even mentioned. But I have a very educated guess why somebody would want to assassinate the character of the author and destroy the reputation of the book so that nobody buys it.

It's an old, overused tactic.

Recently, multiple and widespread variants of this tactic have been employed to demonize the Tea Party. Some character assassins were caught red-handed recruiting activists to infiltrate Tea Party gatherings and make racist statements (for the news cameras) that were allegedly representative of the movement. You can find at least one Youtube clip of a shill who showed up to a rally in a NeoNazi uniform. There are actually too many documented incidents to list here, lest I try your patience.

Whatever you or I think of Pat Buchanan, and whatever principles he has compromised over the years, I listened to his entire speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention. He made some accurate predictions about what a Clinton Administration would do, but never once did he even allude to race or ethnicity. But "news" coverage in the following weeks described it with phrases like "an apocalyptic speech bordering on race war" and "it sounded better in the original German." It was telling that none of the networks or "news" rags substantiated their accusations with a single quote from the speech. Because they couldn't. If they had ANY evidence to that effect, I guarantee they would have used it. Mel Gibson will never live down his drunken tirade. Only socialists like Robert Byrd, Richard Daley, FDR, Margaret Sanger or Woodrow Wilson get their racism whitewashed by the opinion-making cartel. But nobody of import either noticed or cared that no racist comment could actually be produced from Buchanan's speech. Joe Blow who heard these "news" reports just accepted the story because "everybody knows" Buchanan is a racist. I remember, after reading some of the articles after this incident, discussing the matter with a college student. Aware that he was speaking to someone with knowledge of the facts, he dismissed it all with an argument which could be summarized thus: "Your definition of truth is too rigid. It's OK to lie if the truth doesn't advance an agenda I agree with." Then he claimed he had to be somewhere else and couldn't entertain any more debate.

Senator Jesse Helms was demonized in a much similar way, all during his tenure in Congress.

Nobody else is asking the obvious question, so I'll ask it: Why do the socialists ("liberals") find it necessary to lie, deceive, slander and libel regarding what their political opponents believe? If your ideology is superior to that of your rival, why not display them side-by-side in the public forum, debate the opposition, and let the people decide which side has the better answers/solutions?

I'll answer that question, too: Because they obviously don't believe they can win a fair fight.

Read both the Constitution of the USA and the Communist Manifesto, and then examine the voting record of our alleged representatives in Congress. You will find that about 99% of Democrats and 65% of "Republicans" are abiding by the latter, even though they swore to uphold and defend the former. It's not hard to prove that our current economic meltdown is the result of socialistic "change" being foisted on successive generations, and the prosperity it has poisoned was the result of a free market and historically unequaled freedom secured through inalienable individual rights, separation of powers and a system of checks and balances.

In order to keep Joe Blow from examining the facts and coming to his own conclusions, the socialists must find a way to discredit those in the opposition capable of presenting an intelligent argument, to such a degree that nobody will listen to them.

In the case of Jesse Helms, he was a thorn in the side of the insiders--a politician who took his oath seriously and not only voted according to Constitutional law most of the time, but also influenced others to do so. Hence his demonization.

In 2010 the obligatory knee-jerk reaction when the subject of sodomy comes up is, "not that there's anything wrong with that..." But in 1992 not everybody had ascended to the present level of brainwash--er, enlightenment. If swing voters had actually listened to Buchanan's speech, they might have questioned their support of a candidate hell-bent on advancing the homosexual agenda through judicial appointments, executive orders, and the indoctrination power of the government-controlled school system. Not enough voters would have been turned off by what he actually said, so they had to be made to believe his speech was racist--which is revolting to most Americans.

Now with the proliferation of Internet access and alternative media, it's harder to pull off this kind of hatchet job on a grass-roots movement like the Tea Party, but they're trying just the same. They have to, because the Tea Party scares the snot out of them. Not only does the Tea Party reject the Democrats' socialist agenda, they also reject the Socialism Lite offered by the "conservative" establishment Republican insiders and RINOs.

It seems implausible that a western novel like The Curly Wolf would threaten anyone or generate fear in the hearts of the pagan left, but it is written from a perspective markedly different from what the New York Publishing Cartel routinely offers up: It is Christian-friendly, pro-Constitution, and especially pro-2nd Amendment. Also competently written, but without the typical anti-capitalist undertones of rancher vs. farmer range war sagas.

Lone, struggling indie authors are easy prey for cowardly Thought Police to discredit, though. It can be as easy as a tag on Amazon. The "anti-semitic" tag has subsequently been voted down, by the way, but obviously some goose-stepping coward is out there doing this, and will likely do it again. Whether they do it to this same book again, or move on to other books that threaten their ideology, I can't say.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Economic Armageddon

    I don't review that much non-fiction on Two-Fisted Blogger. The last such book I did was, I think, Guy Sajer's Forgotten Soldier. But though this book is not meant to be entertaining, it is educational and worthwhile.

    Many prophetic scholars (including me, though I'm more of an armchair "scholar") have predicted a catastrophic financial meltdown for decades. Today, many observers inside and outside the Church are grudgingly admitting that we're not crackpots, after all. At least not for that prediction.
    In fact, an astute observer who has never cracked a Bible open--but has merely made an honest effort to inform themselves despite the disinformation from government, media and popular culture--understands that the seed of economic destruction for America was planted long ago. That seed has been nurtured, sometimes by a trickle, and sometimes by great spurts. It has been slowed somewhat a couple times, but never stopped. The harvest is almost upon us.
    Dr. Jeremiah, whose radio program I've partially caught from time-to-time, has written a book that repeats the warning about this pending harvest given 2,000 years ago.
    The first part of the book presents samplings of evidence, from mostly secular sources, about the bitter pill we will soon be forced to swallow. His research has mined some very enlightening quotes to support his other evidence.I appreciated his courage in calling one particular skunk a skunk: Social Security has been transformed into a compulsory, government-run Ponzi Scheme. Politicians and most talking heads are far too cowardly to ever admit this out loud. But while Dr. Jeremiah explains what a Ponzi Scheme is, citing examples, the informed reader will likely come to the same conclusion about Social Security even before he ties it together in black & white. It's also refreshing that he diverges from the ubiquitous "prosperity preachers" in honestly admitting that inflation in particular, and man-made financial calamities in general, widen the chasm between rich and poor while decimating the middle class. Another nice nugget is his analysis of Joseph's management of the Egyptian economy. Some people use this story in Genesis to imply that government-controlled, centralized (socialist) economies are Biblical, effective, or resistant to disaster. David Jeremiah politely takes exception to that notion.
    From there, The Coming Economic Armageddon takes us over familiar territory (for those who have read other books about prophecy). Nobody who reads Bible prophecy for themselves is likely to agree 100% with someone else's interpretations, and that was my experience here. But Dr. Jeremiah has a well-grounded education of the matter, in general, and doesn't try to expound upon aspects of end-times prophecy he doesn't yet understand. (Yes, others have, and do, including some of the "big name" prophecy teachers.) He concentrates on the financial aspect of the end times, and the thrust of this is intended as a warning for those who still fail to appreciate the magnitude of this coming disaster.
    People who have never read a single verse from the Bible have heard of "the mark of the beast," and perhaps even some contextual speculation about a cashless society, bar codes, RFID chip implants, etc. But they don't appreciate how these developments were assumed 2,000+ years ago in the Bible, and like similar assumptions in Revelation and the other prophetic books, were scoffingly dismissed until the development of satellite communications, the Internet, 3G, streaming webcasts, podcasts, etc., etc., etc.
    Perhaps the best treat in store for the prophetically literate is Dr. Jeremiah's chapter on the Millennium. I don't know about others, but I've never heard teaching on this subject, and never read more than perfunctory paragraphs here and there touching on it. It's a pity this period goes unnoticed by prophecy teachers. It is important, fascinating, and painfully revealing about human nature.
    TCEA wraps up with a chapter about preparation for the rider of the black horse (look that one up, haha). Dr. J doesn't give investment advice, but advises practical application of the spiritual advice Jesus evidently considered more important than any earth-bound financial strategy.
    For those who already have a grasp of end-time prophecy, this is like a review, with a few fresh tidbits thrown in. For those who don't, it's a must-read.