Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tales from the Airborne I: You Gotta Go When You Gotta Go

Imagine yourself a paratrooper. Strapped in on a C-130, 141, or 17, wearing a heavy parachute, an ill-placed reserve parachute, your rucksack across your thighs, your weapon under your left armpit, and your NVGs uncomfortably around your neck. The paratrooper to your left and right are seated next to you so tightly, you can tell if they have a tattoo on their shoulder just from the friction. All of this, and there's no bathroom.

Well, I take that back... there's a bathroom for the air crew.

When flying tactically, you're usually at Nap of the Earth, the air conditioning is off (purportedly to save power), and everybody needs to puke, much less take a piss. And, to make matters worse, I tend to overhydrate in order to avoid leg cramps. Which means I've got to go... and badly. It's going to be okay, I think, it's almost time to jump. I can piss when I hit the dropzone.

The command to stand up. Yes! The command to hook up. Yes! Check static line. Yes, yes! Check equipment. Oh, fuck yeah. Stand by for equipment check. Still with ya! Sound off for equipment check. Okay, okay, okay! All jumpers okay, jumpmaster! Door jumper, stand in the door! HURRY THE FUCK UP!

And then we wait.

And then I just decide to let it all go and piss down my leg. Pulling my pant leg out of my boot, I enjoy the sense of relief as it trickles to the floor.

Now, were the jump safety familiar with me, he wouldn't have said anything, but he wasn't, so he calmly walked up to me and asked if I was okay, and how many jumps I had. I replied, "Plenty. I just had to piss."

He nodded and smiled. We both sort of glanced at the Air Force loadmaster who was going to have to mop my fluids up later. Unspoken joke, as it were. Fuck the Air Force, right?

The safety went back to his position, the green light came on, and out my chalk went.

Lucky for me, the prop blast tends to dry one off real quick.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Long Lost Pointless Musings, July 2008

What can I say? It's been a while.

Barack Obama, in a blatant attempt to prove something, is supposedly considering Republicans for Vice President. Will it happen? Likely not; he just wants the "unifying" press. It's all about change, right?

Seriously, both Obama and McCain should select Jeb Bush as a running mate. Imaging the furor that would cause.

Mexico is releasing its first "designed and made in Mexico" car, and I must admit, it looks awesome. It's called the Mastretta MXT and can do 0-60 in under five seconds. Not only that, it's guaranteed to get your farmhands to work on time. Uh oh... I did not just type that. Santa Mierda!

Still, the new Camaro looks like it can kick the Mastretta's ass.

In other news: more irony as two more banks "foreclosed." Suckers. The banking industry is finally realizing that it wasn't them who trapped the American homeowner in a lose-lose situation, it was the other way around.

California is becoming the first state to ban restaurants from using trans-fats. $50 says that someone will eventually discover that trans-fats actually have a biological purpose, and everyone will realize that they just screwed themselves.

The United States Army, in a wonderful PR move, recalled Caleb Campbell of the NFL's Detroit Lions to active service. This was after promising him that he could play in the NFL and serve as a poster boy for recruiting. Again, $50 says some jealous higher ups somewhere purposely fucked that poor guy. Does nobody in the Army realize that the Army's image is suffering at the moment? Rest assured, I will return to this issue in the near future.

Marion Jones applied for a Presidential pardon. Sorry, bitch. You cheated, lied, then lied about cheating. While falling short of treason, you deserve the same treatment Benedict Arnold got. Bitch.

Tori Spelling, already whoring herself out to reality TV in an attempt to brighten her fading star, needs to consider another method to brighten her fading star... like going away.

The Screen Actors Guild is bandying about, unsure of what to do. How about this? GO BACK TO WORK. Fuckers.

Perhaps deceptively trying to convince the American public that the military is truly "up-sizing," the US Navy has reactived the long-dormant Fourth Fleet. However, the truth is that the ships of the Fourth Fleet will theoretically be "on loan" from the other fleets. Go figure.

So Air Force crews are falling asleep at the controls of missile launch sites? Um... does anyone still not agree that this particular organization needs to disappear?

Here's something you probably don't know: the Russians have been to the moon, albeit in the form of a remote-controlled rover. In the 70s. And, yes, decades later we borrowed some of their technology to design our Mars rovers.

Out of Iraq and into Iran? That would be, like, stupidly expensive. Ignoring the politics behind it, why would someone drive from San Diego to Los Angeles by going home to Chicago first?

The San Diego Padres seriously, seriously suck this year. Think letting Bruce Bochy go had anything to do with that? Um... yes.

I just recently watched that "Kirk Cameron can scientifically prove the existence of God" debate. Then I read something Candace Cameron wrote about how "God wants her to serve her husband." I have a question for them: what the fuck is wrong with you?

The Dark Knight was, well, near-perfect. Although Christian Bale's "Batman" voice can really get irritating if he has to put more than five words together at a time. And Maggie Gyllenhaal? Not much of an improvement over the awful Katie Holmes. I'm glad this is no longer an issue.

Honestly, I miss the cold weather.

And, on that note, I'm out.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Technology: the "Real" Battlestar Galactica

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

WASHINGTON, DC (June 30, 2008) - The United States Navy and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) today announced the results of a study in the viability of a proposed type of warship dubbed the Fleet Advanced Response Control Escort (FARCE), designed to replace several existing types and classes of warship. On Thursday, a congressional subcommittee approved the findings and the Navy is expected to open bidding for design proposals.

"One of the goals of the Navy of the 21st Century is to consolidate the number of hull designs it currently uses into three or four basic platforms with which to build multiple-mission ships upon," said Alan Rockwell, senior director of the Naval Vehicle Design Office (NVDO) at DARPA. "But we've encountered resistance both within the active and retired naval community. That's one of the reasons we conducted the study with little fanfare."

The proposed warship itself is reportedly designed to not only assume the role of battleship, a role the Navy currently does not fill, but also the role of aircraft carrier and amphibious assault ship. By consolidating these roles onto one hull, the Navy hopes to save millions of dollars in operational and logistical expenses. It would allow the Navy to more quickly retire the older Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, as well as reduce the need for further development of single-role warships such as destroyers and frigates, which the Navy views as becoming obsolete. The US Navy would "lead the maritime defense arena in mission capability and innovation" with this type of ship.

The mission requirements for this new ship seem a daunting undertaking for a single type of vessel, encompassing the infrastructure to act as a traditional warship, an aircraft carrier complete with air wing, and an assault ship complete with embarked Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). Rockwell asserts that "while the size and scope of the project will certainly place limitations on the bidding process, the mere fact that the United States Navy will put to sea the largest warship, indeed, the largest ship, ever built will be more than enough to convince the American people and our enemies that America means to maintain ocean-going supremacy well into the 22nd Century."

So far, the proposal eliminates the need for the current strike group organization that the Navy currently heavily relies on, and will purportedly allow for the redeployment of most escort warships at Navy bases located along the contiguous United States' coastline. According to Rockwell, "Why send seven ships to do a job that one ship will be able to do?"

The Navy expects forceful opposition to the proposal, both from within its ranks and without, but fully expects the now-public white paper to convince its opponents of the obvious benefits of having such a ship. In order to help educate those reluctant to approve the purchase of the project, the Navy has recruited nautical strategy geniuses Ronald D. Moore and David Eick to conduct seminars on what a great idea putting all of your eggs in one basket is. After all, there's nothing like an ROTC dropout telling you how a military should work. Moore is currently accepting applications for one-eyed, alcoholic XOs who hate their wives and short-sighted, pop-culture philosophizing COs who can't even control their own children to help with the education of the public.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Suck

In 1981, director Steven Spielberg, producer George Lucas, and writer Lawrence Kasdan introduced us all to who would become one of the greatest heroes in cinematic history: Indiana Jones. The movie: Raiders of the Lost Ark. The premise: homage to action packed serials of yesteryear. The result: outstanding. Quickly-paced, yet somehow balanced in character, we went on a thrill ride not only genius in plot, but just plain genius.

Three years later we were again exposed to the adventures of Indiana Jones, this time in the ill-titled prequel, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. However, the charm was still there, as were the thrills, and despite disturbing much of the general public with its PG-13-creating antics, the film was still very much kin to the original.

A further five years and we witness what is arguably the best of the series, the still ill-titled Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Here we get a built-in story (the Holy Grail), a return to our built-in bad guys (the Nazis), and an excellent built-in character-building device (Indy's father).

And then... nothing. Well, for 19 years, that is. Until Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull shows up. And resoundingly stinks up the cineplex.

Bad plot, bad script, bad cinematography, bad digital effects... bad idea, basically. And so overwrought with cliche, it makes the first three films look like Shakespearian theatre.

I mean... C'MON!

Seriously, we already knew that George Lucas lost his touch back in the early 80s, but this... this has to be the film that proves that even Mr. Spielberg is forgotting how to make a movie (he's already forgotten how to end one). How could he have possibly agreed with George that this was the best way to reintroduce us to our long-lost hero?

Why even listen to George, anyway? He already almost ruined Indiana Jones' legacy with The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (an admittedly good show, albeit one that fit poorly with the established Indiana Jones franchise). And now we get this?

Ah, well. I was hoping to be a bit more insightful, but as I'm clearly devolving into straight-up ranting, I shall stop.

Hopefully, someone will convince George to do the same before he proceeds any further with his "Mutt Williams" sequels.

Oy vey.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

10 Overrated Movies

Oh, come on... you had to have seen this coming. Haven't you ever seen a movie that, maybe you liked it and maybe you didn't, definitely didn't deserve the accolades it got? Well, I have (usually once a week). Or a movie that you felt was so utterly stupid, it darkened your already dim view in humanity because everyone you know liked it? Yeah, don't get me started (new Star Wars trilogy... ahem).

And now, the list:

1. Bad Boys II - seriously, what the fuck was Jerry Bruckheimer thinking? I mean, this even before those two rather bland Pirates of the Carribean sequels. Better yet, what the fuck was Will Smith thinking? I get Martin Lawrence, struggling to find work and all, but c'mon, Smith. Stupid plot, over-the-top plot, weak plot, crap plot, shit plot. And TNT? Tactical Narcotics Team? Give me a fucking break. Cuba? Agh!

2. The Boondock Saints - a cult classic that has no business being a cult classic. Well, no, I take that back. I actually kind of like this movie, but it's no wonder it didn't get a theatrical release. Never mind the fact that writer/director Troy Duffy is apparently a putz, but the ending is quite possibly the worst ending a "cult classic" could have. I'd say "agh" again, but I did that already.

3. Brokeback Mountain - bad movie? No. Well-shot, well-acted, well-written movie? Yes. Good movie? Obviously. Great movie? Oh, HELL no. Sorry, but everyone with half-a-brain knows that the only reason this film got accolades was because of its subject matter. Yes, I get it. And, yes, I think a movie like this needed to be made. But it's no better a love story than, well, Love Story.

4. Flags of Our Fathers - eh, I'm actually on the fence with this one, but it certainly wasn't a very streamlined movie. Sure, war is chaos, but we still need a better character to latch on to than Ryan Phillippe's. And that ending? COME ON. Saving Private Ryan almost ruined itself with the "old-guy-in-the-future" schtick; Clint should've learned a lesson. Ah, well. At least he totally blew the top off with Letters from Iwo Jima. Now THAT was a great film.

5. The Lost World: Jurassic Park - um... um... Mr. Spielberg? Do I really need to get into this? Probably, seeing as how it grossed around $230 million the United States alone. People are idiots.

6. The Matrix - now, don't get me wrong, I absolutely love this movie. However, we all know that despite the fact that it broke technological ground in Hollywood, was a kick-ass action flick, and just all-around rocked, it was its so-called pop-culturization of philosophy that really made this film a hit. Yeah, right. Or so we all thought until the next two films came out... and proved the Wachowski brothers were merely high on the right combination of drugs when they wrote The Matrix.

7. Mission: Impossible 2 - hmm... does anyone else think that John Woo just really, really wanted to make a James Bond movie? And a really, really bad James Bond movie at that. Let's see... Anthony Hopkins as M? Check. Thandie Newton as wannabe Bond girl? Check. Tom Cruise as James Bond? Almost check. And that endo on the bike? Yikes. Too bad Tom Cruise went nuts prior to the third film being released (a decent film, I might add). People might still respect the franchise.

8. The Searchers - Steven Spielberg once mentioned that The Searchers is one of the films he watches before directing a movie. For fuck's sake, why? This movie sucks! Of all the great films John Wayne and John Ford did together, The Searchers enters the lexicon as their greatest? It sucks! Cliche after fucking cliche. And it sucked at it! It sucks! What is wrong with you people?

9. The Sixth Sense - I've often claimed that M. Night Shyamalan has only made one really good movie. And, dudes, this ain't it. You call that a twist? Maybe, had he not given it away in the first 10 minutes... oh, and in the fucking marketing. Sure, it wasn't bad, but ask yourself this: how many times have you watched it since the first time? Maybe once, after which you realized, "man, this movie ain't all that."

10. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith - Oh. my. fuck. By this time, George Lucas had so effectively trained everyone not to expect much, that even many critics were claiming that Revenge of the Sith is one of the better Star Wars movies. Um, not. Hayden Christensen sucks. George Lucas can't direct. The Jedi "cleansing" was anti-climactic. Hell, everything was anti-climactic. Luke and Leia's birth? I'm surprised I was still awake. I think everyone needs to come to their senses and just start pretending that Lucas quit with Return of the Jedi.

Oh, this list could be much, much longer, but the interest of my sanity, I shall stop.

Anyone feel like arguing?