30 September 2007

Not sure that's who he meant

You can put lipstick on a pig and it will still be a pig.
Fred Dalton Thompson

Civil War for the day

Hauling the cannon off the wall at Fort Clinch in Florida. (No, the tractor wasn't period. But the cannon was, and heavy.)

29 September 2007

And here I thought it was real

According to Snopes (http://www.snopes.com/photos/airplane/a37.asp), it's not the F/A-37 Talon, but a dummy plane used in the production of Stealth, made back in 2004. Don't remember seeing it, but I would have remembered this extremely cool plane if I had. And Jessica Beal as Lieutenant Kara Wade? Knowing me, I suspect I would've remembered her for sure. Might have to rent this one...

PC is as PC does

Why should we limit the briliance of The PC Moral Equivalency Guidebook for University Presidents Seeking to Curry Favor with the Hard Left and Other Enemies of America to just university presidents? (Thanks to http://johninnorthcarolina.blogspot.com for that splendid title.)
I think the guidebook needs to cover every part of the sociopolitical spectrum, as there's plenty of that shit to go around...

Is war pornographic, or is it the other way 'round?

If Soldier of Fortune magazine had published Steve Meisel's models-in-the-mud-with-soldiers photos (not that they would have, but it's funny to think so), the outrage would have been loud and long across the spectrum. (Conservatives would've had their own issues.)
But since Italian Vogue published (and commissioned) them, not a peep out of the lefties.
Funny about that...

Porn for PETA

In 2004, Silverstone was voted "Sexiest Female Vegetarian" by PETA.
Banana and/or carrot and/or cucumber jokes optional.
But whoever made this video is a minor genius; I think it's a great piece, as is Alicia.
(Not partial to thin lips, myself. If she had lips like Angelina Jolie, damn...)

Can dish it out. Can't take it.

Apparently MoveOn.org got its corporate knickers in a twist over spoof materials that people were posting on Cafe Press (great company; I use them myself), and wrote a nasty letter to its president demanding that all the 'offending' materials be removed.
Now, ignoring for the moment the whole First Amendment thing, isn't this a bit of whose ox is being gored here?
I'm sure General Petraeus would have loved to have written a nasty lawyer's letter to the New York Times, demanding that they retract the MoveOn.org ad they ran on their front page, but he didn't.
Seems that those upon the Left are a bit thin-skinned, just as we always suspected...

Civil War for the day

A nice closeup of an even nicer Burnside carbine owned, alas, by the husband of my cousin. I envy his collection.

Down to eight lives

Curiosity killed the cat, they say, and now I see why.
The cat decided that that little dangly thing was way too interesting not to sink a claw into and pull at, even when it brought the book to which it was attached off the bookshelf onto its head...
Fortunately, cats are also quick, so it leapt out of the way before the book came down with a thud.
So I still have a quick, if no wiser, Flora.

Hemingway ain't got nothing on this cat

The Proudfoot Family was a family of Hobbits of the Shire. All the members of this family mentioned in The Lord of the Rings were related to the Bagginses, since they were descended from Bilbo Baggins' uncle Bodo Proudfoot. There is some uncertainty about the plural form of 'Proudfoot'; the family themselves apparently used 'Proudfeet', but Bilbo pointedly preferred 'Proudfoots'.
from http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Proudfoot_Family

If you have a polydactyl cat like mine, they are 'Proudfeet'.
Hemingway's cats certainly are.

Seems, according to 60 Minutes last night, that the USDA is terribly interested in the welfare of the Hemingway cats. To the extent that several hundred person-hours (or should that be bureaucrat-hours?) and numerous trips, at taxpayer expense, have been exhausted on trying to keep the cats from wandering off the property into Key West proper.
Not sure, still, why this is perceived as a problem, or how the USDA justifies it as a federal issue, but there you are.
No jokes about government officials creating a boondoggle where they have to go to Key West, on our nickel, please...

Hunting license not required

Seems that several Army snipers have gotten themselves into courts martial over their habit of leaving interesting objects on the ground for potential insurgents to pick up.
Pick 'em up, get shot.
Sort of salt licks for insurgents, I guess. (Thanks to my embedded reporter in the sandbox for that splendid image.)
I don't know how sporting this is, and the courts martial will undoubtedly wrestle with the notion, but I don't think it's sporting when we do it to animals (and I have, to my shame, in Texas).
But I would suggest to bearded folks in Iraq that they not stop to pick up goodies along the roadside...

28 September 2007

The Confederacy marches down to the battle at the 140th of Antietam. (On a personal note, however, I see that the photo was taken on 1.11.01, which has an odd resonation for this child...)

27 September 2007

Civil War for the day

At the marker for the 56th Pennsylvania at Gettysburg.

26 September 2007

Wild, wild West in the Valley

from http://www.mcall.com/sports/outdoors/all-cowboys0925.6049085sep25,0,5460199.story?page=1
September 26, 2007
Article by Christian Berg: cberg@mcall.com

If you bumped into Jody or Megan Snyder on a weekday, you'd never guess the Whitehall couple enjoys an alternative lifestyle.

Weekends, however, are an entirely different matter.

That's when Jody, a machinist, and his wife Megan, a nurse, escape the workaday world by donning their Old West duds and becoming ''Timberland Renegade'' and ''Mustang Megs'' -- two of the sharpest-dressed, slickest-shooting gunslingers this side of the Susquehanna.
The Snyders are among several hundred Lehigh Valley residents who regularly participate in Cowboy Action Shooting, a fast-growing sport that's part marksmanship, part theater and part historical re-enactment. For the Snyders, that adds up to a whole lot of fun.

''Honestly, I'd never see him if I didn't shoot,'' said Megan, 28. ''But it's something we love. It gives us a lot of time together and it brings more of a friendship to the relationship.''

There are four local gun clubs that host Cowboy Action Shooting competitions one Saturday or Sunday a month March through November, and up to 100 shooters join the local 'posse' each week.

Attending the 'Dakota Badlanders shoot at Guthsville Rod and Gun Club in North Whitehall on September 9th was like stepping back in time or, at the very least, stepping onto the set of a spaghetti Western. Cowboy boots, spurs, and wide-brimmed hats were standard issue, as were shiny silver revolvers, lever-action rifles and 12-gauge shotguns. And just like in the movies, the good guys never got hurt.

''What we're doing is reliving our childhood with this,'' said Dennis DeFranco, an Allentown retiree who has been cowboy shooting for 12 years. ''It's not so much the competition as it is dressing up and having a good time.''

Who's the fastest gun?
A typical Cowboy Action Shooting competition features five stages, each featuring a different shooting scenario with nine or 10 rifle targets, five pistol targets, and four or five shotgun targets. In keeping with the cowboy theme, targets bear the images of bandits, cacti, saloons, and the like.

''We shoot the guns of the Old West at metal targets that are real big and up close,'' said DeFranco, noting that .38, .44 and .45 calibers, many of them Italian clones of pistols originally made by Colt and Ruger, are among the most popular. ''It goes bang and clang, and it's a lot of fun.''

The goal -- in true Wild West fashion -- is to see who can complete each stage the fastest. A shooter's score is based on time, with a 5-second penalty for every missed target and a 10-second penalty for shooting targets out of order. Special attention is paid to safety, as competitors are required to load, fire and unload guns under the supervision of a range officer.

DeFranco, one of the elder statesmen among Lehigh Valley cowboy shooters, serves as a ''territorial governor'' for the Single Action Shooting Society, a California-based organization that founded Cowboy Action Shooting and sanctions events. Since its inception in 1981, SASS has grown to include more than 75,000 members across the nation and in 18 other countries. The organization even has its own television show on the Outdoor Life Network and owns a 480-acre ranch in New Mexico where the Cowboy Action Shooting national championships are held each year.

Alter egos
In addition to having authentic firearms and costumes from the 1860-1900 period, every SASS member chooses a cowboy ''alias'' to be used during competition. Many competitors say they may have known fellow shooters for years, but still have no idea what their real names are. The cowboy names, kept in an official SASS registry so that no one else can use the same one, can be either made up entirely, or based on historical figures such as Jesse James or Wyatt Earp.

DeFranco, for example, goes by the name ''Lester Moore'' during cowboy action events. His character is based on a real Lester Moore, who worked as a Wells Fargo agent in Arizona and was shot dead during a dispute over a package shipment. Moore was buried in Tombstone, Arizona, with a grave marker that reads, ''Here lies Lester Moore. Four slugs from a .44. No Les. No More.''

''I'm real easy going, honest and respectful of others, and I'd like to assume he was, too,'' DeFranco said. ''You harken back to the days when a man's handshake was his word, and we try to operate that way.''

Others, such as Barb Snyder of Allenwood, Union County, prefer to create their own names and develop a back story to go with it. Snyder goes by ''Black Hills Barb'', a fictional character born in South Dakota and raised by Indians.

Jody Snyder, 34, chose ''Timberland Renegade'' because he grew up at Timberland Acres horse farm in Walnutport, and Megan Snyder chose ''Mustang Megs'' to stick with the equine theme.

Start small, spend big
Like many Cowboy Action Shooting enthusiasts, the Snyders have spent thousands of dollars on the pastime. Ammunition alone costs a small fortune, and Jody said he reloads about 10,000 rounds each winter in preparation for the next year. Some of their other expenditures include costumes, custom-engraved replica revolvers and a new camping trailer and pickup truck for traveling to shoots throughout the region.

However, the Snyders said you don't need a lot of fancy equipment to participate.

''I started off with borrowed guns until I could afford them myself, and that's how a lot of cowboys get started,'' Megan said.
The welcoming atmosphere at Cowboy Action Shooting events hooked Mike and Kathy Stoehr right away. Kathy said she learned about the sport from her brother in California, and when they found out there was an event Sept. 2 at Topton Fish and Game Association, the Chalfont couple checked it out.

''All of the people were so nice and friendly, and they invited us back,'' Kathy said.

So, they returned to Guthsville the following week and, before they knew it, they were shooting targets, making friends and enjoying the simple pleasures of life on the range.

''It's a blast,'' said Kathy, aka ''Abigail Flapsaddle.'' ''I was so nervous the first time, I could hardly hold the gun -- but I didn't miss a target.''

Mike, aka ''Gunshy Mike'', said the respect for history and attention to detail is part if what makes Cowboy Action Shooting so enjoyable.

''They have all the fancy toys,'' he said. ''There's no way a shooter could have more fun.''

For more information about Cowboy Action Shooting, including links to affiliated clubs throughout the country, visit the Single Action Shooting Society Web site at http://www.sassnet.com

Civil War for the day

The flag of the Seventh Pennsylvania cavalry.

25 September 2007

That number, again...

Those who already know of my eleven-eleven fetish will be amused, as I was, at the item number for these tags. No, no, I don't make these things up. (I don't have to, the universe just flips them out there...)

Television worth watching

I'm only a few hours into this lengthy Ken Burns documentary, but it's done with the same deft brilliance as his work on the Civil War.
Rico says check it out...

Fortunately, Burns did not turn away from the whole story. There are several segments, appropriately done, on the issues of how we treated African Americans and Japanese Americans during the war; not a good part of our history. Shaming and angering, for me. Given that my maternal grandparents were residents of North Carolina, I lived through the end of segregation in the South (the late 1950s and early 1960s), and saw the same stupid blind bullshit exhibited by white Americans... Idiots. I'm still amazed that black people talk to us.

My drug of choice

Given all the weirdness of my life over the last nine months, this is the drug I'm taking these days...

The downside of the sunshine state

I've been fortunate and have only seen one or two sharks in the water, and always at a safe distance. While I have no love for these 'wolves of the sea', they are only doing their job: eating things and making baby sharks. I hope never to see something like this...

Needle off the scale

Well, just when you think you can't care any more, you have to. Got off the phone earlier with a friend of mine who's married (so far; day ain't over yet) to an even closer friend of mine, with whom she recently had a child.
Unfortunately, there's screw loose somewhere, and she's making him nuts, to the point of physical violence, and she apparently has the bruises to prove it.
Now, whatever else I may believe, violence again women is never justified. Especially when they're half your height and weight. (If anyone's ever seen a photo of me and Chris, it's about that differential. Hitting Chris would be, for me, about like hitting a child, and not a very big one at that.)
This is not the friend I thought I had. I'm disappointed.
No matter how this turns out, it's not going to be good for anyone.

Chris just emailed me the link to the arrest file. Not good. I don't dare call or email, thought I'd like to. Better to wait for things to cool down a bit...

Got an email from her. I advised her to stay the fuck away. Once bitten, twice shy, they say...

Got a voicemail from him. I'll report back later.

I do wonder how this will all turn out...

So far, of course, it's been just weirder than shit. I had quite a long conversation with him, and things were perceived somewhat differently, as I might have suspected.

According to him, hitting was never involved. The single bruise on her arm was acquired when she was doing some work in the forepeak. (This is a small boat. Things are pointy and sometimes fall down.) No facial bruising. No arm damage. No loosened teeth. No hitting whatsoever.

According to him, she was sent off the boat to get a job. When she called, mere minutes later, to report that there were "no jobs available ashore", he got cranky. An hour later, the cops showed up. So far (until the lawyers get involved), all we really know is that the cops looked at her, listened to her story (though noting in their report that it was 'unverified'), and showed up to arrest him. Then he spent three less-than-pleasant days in the slammer.

So far, no sign of photos taken at the time of the report, no sign of a medical examination, nada. Until further notice from competent authorities, I'm withholding judgement on this one. Do I think he hit her? Maybe. Though, knowing him as I do, I would have been surprised. Could she have made the whole thing up? Maybe. But, knowing her as I do, 'compulsive liar' would not be too much of a stretch as a behavioral analysis. (And I wouldn't be the first to use the phrase about her.)

Sad. Sad. Sad. No matter what the 'real' reality is here, no one's going to get off easy. He got three days in the pokey (so far), the baby is being cared for by a person in whom we have less than total confidence, and the cops are, if not incompetent then, charitably, unskilled at this. Since there are both county-wide and state-wide courses, specifically targeting police departments, that teach all the right procedures (photos, medical exam, videotaped cross-examination by trained investigators), if the locals didn't do any of that they're worse than morons. Incompetent cops can get you fucked over by the system, if not killed. If they did, of course, he's a liar and I'll be really pissed. If they did and there was nothing there, then she's a liar and I'll be equally pissed.

In any case, the kid's fucked. He'll grow up, if he's lucky, in a single parent home, with at least one wacko as a parent. Poor little unsuspecting bastard.

Some cans of worms you wish you'd never opened...

Today's email traffic is just as weird.
She's insisting he did, he's insisting he didn't.
Do I know who's lying? No, though I have suspicions.
When you're at this remove and can't see a person's expression nor (over email) hear their voice, you can't tell.
But it's one or the other, that's for sure.
One way I'll be surprised, and pissed off. The other way I won't be surprised.
Either way, sad, sad, sad.
My ladyfriend keeps asking me why I'm stuck to this tarbaby. Maybe because, foolishly, I care about those involved...
Hope it resolves itself soon, one way or another. I can't handle all the drama much longer.

John Landis must die

I see that John Landis, poseur director, has surfaced again.
He'd wisely gone invisible after the big debacle during the making of the Twilight Zone movie, but apparently he thinks things have blown over and he can come back out into the light.
He's wrong.
He killed Vic Morrow, and I've never forgiven him for that.
(I can't hold Steven Spielberg, the producer, responsible; he wasn't anywhere near the scene when it happened, and likely wouldn't have let it happen if he was.)

Morrow's bio, culled from various sources (credited below):
Morrow was born 14 February 1929 in the Bronx. He died 23 July 1982, in the Santa Clara river in California. He, along with a bother and sister, were raised in a typical, middle class, Jewish family. Vic's father was an electrical engineer. At age 17, feeling 'restless, rebellious, and stifled', Morrow quit high school and joined the Navy. After completing his hitch, he earned his diploma at night school. He then enrolled under the GI Bill as a pre-law student at Florida Southern College, a decision which he said, "had more to do with the drama of a great courtroom performance than any love of the law". However, after taking part in a school play, he dropped law and began to pursue a career on the stage.
Instead of heading directly to Hollywood, Morrow chose to learn his craft the hard way. He first studied at Mexico City College where he "performed in bilingual productions of Shakespeare, Moliere and Shaw". He then returned to New York to do little-theatre work before committing himself to a two-year stint at the Actors' Workshop under Paul Mann. Abiding by his instructors' wishes, Vic agreed not to act professionally until his training was over. In order to make ends meet, he drove a cab for a living.
His first role after graduation was as Stanley Kowalksi in a summer stock production of A Streetcar named Desire. His big break however, came when he turned up without an agent, an appointment, or lunch money, to audition for MGM's The Blackboard Jungle. After beating out the likes of Steve McQueen and John Cassavetes, he was immediately signed and was Hollywood-bound. Critics raved about his portrayal of the tough-talking, knife-wielding, street-wise, New York kid Artie West.
Right from the start, Morrow was typecast either as the 'bad' guy or a misunderstood, troubled young man. His early career was also marked by his most unusual project; supplying the voice of a canine character in It's a Dog's Life. It was however, the last work he did for MGM and he drifted off in other directions, namely marriage, raising a family, and directing.
Putting his acting career on hold, Morrow enrolled in a course at the University of Southern California and began directing community theatre. He occasionally appeared on television or in films, but the typecasting was beginning to wear on him. With a growing family to support, he also found that the time had come to put his artistic scruples aside and opt for the big dollars that televison offered. Desperately wanting to challenge his 'heavy' image, he hired Harry Bloom as his personal manager. This proved to be the turning point in his career.
Pushing Vic's sex appeal and leading-man qualities, Bloom engineered a screen test for a proposed new television series about the exploits of American infantry soldiers in Europe during World War II: Combat! At first, he was considered for the officer role (Lieutenant Hanley) but both Morrow and his manager declined on the basis that "no one sympathizes with an officer". The result was a five-year stint (1962-67) as the heroic and highly-respected Sergeant Chip Saunders.
The early Combat! days were rocky ones. Morrow, not liking the direction the show was taking and his often-limited appearances, actually threatened to quit (he would do so again during contract negotiations two years later). He emerged from the ordeal with the majority of the scripts and a contract which put him among television's highest paid performers (a reported $5,000 per week). He also assumed the director's reins with the episode The Pillbox in 1964 and went on to direct many memorable episodes, including the acclaimed two-part anti-war saga Hills Are For Heroes in 1966. The outstanding features of his directorial efforts included innovative camera angles and the ability to elicit strong, sensitive performances from the ensemble cast. He also wrote many segments of the show but those went uncredited. For Morrow, however, the high point of his Combat! career was to be an Emmy nomination for his superb portrayal of a horribly burned and abandoned Saunders in the first-season episode Survival, which aired 12 March 1963.
In 1958, Morrow finally married New York actress and writer Barbara Turner; they had been together for seven years. They worked on several projects together, including the musical Willie Loved Everybody and the screen adaptation of Jean Genet's play, Deathwatch. Morrow had appeared in the latter off-Broadway in 1958, as well as directing a little theatre production of it in Los Angeles. The couple had two children, Carrie Ann, born in 1959, and Jennifer Leigh, born in 1962. Only five years later and on Barbara's initiative (she had been involved in an affair with Combat! director Robert Altman), the couple separated and were officially divorced in 1965. Morrow took it all very hard, especially the estrangement from his children. This, plus the cancellation of Combat! in 1967, sent him into a personal and professional decline from which he was never to fully recover.
Morrow's post-Combat! career saw a return to the role of the 'heavy'. At first, he was much in demand to do guest shots on hit series and while a starring role in another series was proposed, what he really wanted was quality film offers, a chance to develop his own projects and, most of all, to direct. With few opportunities at home, he took his talents to Japan but soon returned when it became apparent that things were no better there. By this time, he found himself relegated to supporting roles in mini-series and a string of made- for-television movies. The Glass House and Police Story pilot (Countdown) were two of his most memorable performances but rarely, with the exception of the 1976 hit Bad News Bears, did he appear in a major film. Ironically, despite the critical acclaim he received for his portrayal of the abusive baseball coach in Bad News Bears, his television roles got smaller.
By the late 1970s, Vic was lonely and despondent. A failed second marriage (1975), the death of his beloved mother (1978), a reputation as a hard drinker, the failure of a pet project (A Man Called Sledge) and annonymity as a actor left him distraught. He also found it distressing to watch his own performances and reputation being quickly eclipsed by those of his daughter, Jennier. While she had changed her name to Jennifer Jason Leigh in an effort to escape the 'Vic Morrow's kid' label, Vic saw this as an ultimate act of disloyalty. Driven by the need to keep busy, Vic found solace in a string of roles in low-budget films, building a new house, and playing the commodities market. When, in 1982, the chance came to appear in Steven Spielber's latest project, a film adaptation of the classic television series The Twilight Zone, Vic eagerly accepted. He saw it as a way to revive his career in mainstream films.
Vic Morrow died tragically in the early morning hours of July 23, 1982 while filming a scene for "Twilight Zone: The Movie". As he waded across the Santa Clara River carrying two Vietnamese children, a helicopter crashed beside them. All three actors were killed; Morrow and one of the children were decapitated. In his will, written in purple felt-pen on yellow paper just seven months before his death, he left the bulk of his million-dollar estate (house, bank accounts, safety deposit boxes, his personal effects, and Macho the dog) to Carrie. Jennifer, who had remained estranged from her father, received the token sum of $100 while his SAG insurance and some cash went to a female friend.

As FindADeath put it: (http://www.findadeath.com/Deceased/m/Vic%20Morrow/vic_morrow.htm)
"At 2:20am on the morning of 23 July 1982, the final shot of the sequence was being filmed. Morrow would have two children in his arms, wading across a knee-deep river in the dark. Also in the shot would be a village under military siege, and a helicopter coming towards them. The shot would be littered with gigantic explosions. It didn’t go well.
"After Landis called action, the scene commenced. Morrow and the children were trying to get across the river while these amazing explosions were pounding all around them. Even the special effects people were a bit freaked out. Then the helicopter enters the scene. Landis screamed Lower! Lower! Lower! to direct the chopper downwards, and it finally hovered at just 24 feet above the water.
"There were cameras whizzing away during this entire event. There was even a guy standing on the skid of the helicopter, filming the entire thing. These explosions were big. Way big. Just when the pilot of the helicopter was about to split the scene, two more blasts came, and he went out of control. Everyone that could got the hell out of there. Vic lost his grip on Renee, but in the time he tried to get her back, the helicopter landed on top of her, crushing her to death. The 40-foot diameter blades decapitated Morrow and little Myca Le. The cameras were still rolling."
Leave your equipment where it is. Everyone go home. Please, everyone go home! came the announcement.
Jack Rimmer, one of the fire-safety officers, covered Vic Morrow’s torso and set it on a bank. As he was wading across the river to the village to douse the fires there, Rimmer found Myca Le’s head in the water. A crew member brought over a plastic garbage bag and placed the little boy’s severed head inside. Special effects technician Kevin Quibell located Vic’s head, which was placed in another black plastic bag.
After the accident the helicopter sat in the river.
Many people were taken to the emergency room of the nearby Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital for treatment of injuries and shock.
Vic’s funeral took place on July 25th, and John Landis gave a 'eulogy': "It is reported by Dick Peabody that John Landis showed up at Mr. Morrow's funeral unannounced, and gave an unrequested and rambling eulogy that sounded more like a plug for the Twilight Zone movie than anything else. This idiot's eulogy offended and upset Mr. Morrow's family and friends."
Morrow is buried at Hillside Memorial Park.
On July 27th, both children had their funerals, which Landis also attended.
Renee is buried in Forest Lawn in Glendale, while Myca Le is buried in Cerritos.
Indian Dunes is now owned by the Newhall Ranch Development Company. They closed the area to movie and film production some time ago.
Indian Dunes has been used for many movies and television programs, most notably Black Sheep Squadron with Robert Conrad and Some Kind Of Hero with Richard Pryor. The last film made at Indian Dunes was The Rocketeer and the last television production was China Beach. There were many silent films and westerns made here years ago and part of Escape From New York was also filmed there.
The Newhall Ranch Development Company owns practically every inch of land in the area and closed the area in the early 1990s for what they termed 'agricultural use', but everyone and their brother knew what would be next. Currently there are preliminary plans to construct over 20,000 homes in the area, thus destroying what may be the very last open and unobstructed parcels of land in the region. There has been a huge uproar over the proposal and, much like Los Angeles before the LA river system, the big gripe is over water and the amount needed to supply the huge development.
There are two books which discuss the tragedy in detail. The first, Outrageous Conduct: Art, Ego and the Twilight Zone Case, was followed by another book entitled Special Effects (by Ron LaBrecque) that is equally mesmerizing. It even suggests that Steven Spielberg, executive producer, was on the scene immediately after the accident, but left before the authorities arrived. If so, that's Hollywood for you!
Everybody filed lawsuits. Everybody. Landis went on trial for involuntary manslaughter, but was acquitted. Warner Brothers settled the civil suits for about $2 million each.
Vic had two daughters. One is called Carrie, the other one messed her name about and is now called Jennifer Jason Leigh. Vic’s will left everything to his daughter Carrie, and a hundred bucks to Jennifer. (They didn’t get along, apparently.)
You can see scenes of the accident location if you rent Death Scenes 2.

Landis got off easy.
I thought then, and I think now, that certain people should have gotten together and made sure that a) Landis never worked in "this town" again and b) Landis quietly disappeared into the desert one night, never to be seen again. I'm sure his family (even Jennifer) would have mourned him, but too fucking bad.
The asshole killed one of my childhood heroes for a lousy movie shot.
He better never cross my path. Herewith, he's been warned...

For fans of Combat!, like me, check out: http://www.jodavidsmeyer.com/combat/main.html
For fans of Vic Morrow's character in the series, check out: Combat!: The Best of Saunders at Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000C20VIC/thecomfanpag/ref=nosim)


A golden eagle being worked by a Tibetan herder. One of life's sweet little secret moments... (From the 100 Best Pictures collection of National Geographic photos. Couldn't agree more; I'd love to have a giant print of this one.)

Civil War for the day

The badge of the Seventh Pennsylvania cavalry.

24 September 2007

Better late than never

From a heart-breaking article at http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB119024238402033039.html

"I've experienced a deathbed conversion," he said, smiling. "I just bought a Macintosh."

I'm sure his Mac will make his remaining days more pleasant, as my G5 has mine...

Gotta love 'em

From the Redneck Book of Manners. which, if it doesn't exist, it should:

"Establish with her parents what time she is expected back. Some will say ten PM; others might say "Monday." If the latter is the answer, it is the man's responsibility to get her to school on time."

There are, alas, still places where this isn't funny...

Civil War for the day

The photo reads "Men of the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry at 140th Gettysburg".
It was a lot of fun, if hot and muggy, much like the real thing. That's me in the back left rank.

23 September 2007

Opiate of the masses

How do you tell a dear friend, who (other than her little religion problem) is a nice person, to stop sending you shit like this:

I pray not only for your recovery, but I also pray that you will come to understand a few things about Christ:
1) That it is not about going to a church building, rather, having a personal relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ The Son. The way to know Him is through the teachings of Jesus and accepting Him into your heart to live (not as a preacher). In truth, I haven’t visited a church in years and have not been a member of one for more than twice as long.
2) God of the Holy Bible is omnipresent and omnipotent.
3) He loves His creation so much, that He created a way for His creation to know Him. The more you grow closer to Him, the more you learn His will and the easier it gets to obey it; you grow stronger in love: loving others and yourself.
4) If God created us and wants the best for us (He is glorified this way), we must learn to trust Him and have faith that no matter what something looks like, nothing is impossible for God.

Sigh. You can't fight a delusional structure wired that tight.
All you can do is smile and tell them that, as much as you appreciate the thought, this shit ain't for you.
Not that it'll stop her attempts to make me see the light, but at least I'll have tried...

Sometimes they even amaze me...

As if Bangladesh, one of the poorest and most over-populated countries in the world, didn't have enough problems, now they're in a major tizzy over a cartoon with these speech balloons:

A man: What is your name?
Boy: Babu.
Man: You should say 'Mohammed Babu'. What’s is your father’s name?
Boy: X.
Man: You should say 'Mohammed X'. What is that in your lap?
Boy: Mohammed cat.

The cartoonist, a 20-year-old kid, has reportedly been arrested, and the sub-editor of that humour section “terminated for carelessness.” There are also calls to arrest the editor of the newspaper where the cartoon was published, the much-respected Matiur Rahman.

Amazing, huh?
So the next time they want you to weep for the poor starving, cyclone-smashed Bangladeshis, remember that this is what they're really worried about...

War without winning is more like it

Their list of members reads like a coalition of the usual suspects in the anti-everything (and especially anti-Bush's war) brigade:

20/20 Vision
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Artists United to Win Without War
Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities
Center for International Policy (CIP)
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Council for a Liveable World
Families USA
Feminist Majority
Fourth Freedom Forum
Global Exchange
Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR)
Musicians United to Win Without War
National Council of Churches
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
National Organization for Women (NOW)
Pax Christi USA
Peace Action Physicians for Social Responsibility
Psychologists for Social Responsibility
Rainbow/Push Coalition
Shalom Center
Sierra Club
The Tikkun Community
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA)
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
United Church of Christ
United Methodist Church: General Board of Church and Society
Us Foundation
Veterans for Peace
Women's Action for New Directions (WAND)
Working Assets

A pair of old farts

Like father, like son, they say. This was at the celebration of my 55th birthday; my dad is 78 this year. The 'thousand yard stare' was from my brain injury; my eyes photograph like slits at the best of times, so I had to adopt this odd wide-eyed stare to look awake in the photo.

Don't get any plainer than that

I don't think we need to be so obvious for our Canadian neighbors...

Civil War for the day

Spencer and I watch over the Delaware Blues. (See www.delawareblues.info for details of our unit.)

But Communism is so wonderful

This from http://www.babalublog.com/: "Need bath soap? Not a problem. It's readily available at many shops and gas stations. Expect to pay about 80 cents for a bar. Not bad, eh? Think again. Those 80 cents are in Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) - Fidel Castro's homemade dollar, which is pegged evenly (minus the sizable tax taken out when you make an exchange) with American cash. At about 25 CUC to the U.S. dollar, that 80 cent bar of soap costs the average Cuban worker with no access to cold, hard U.S. cash, about 20 Cuban pesos. Want to know how much your average Cuban worker brings home every month in the Caribbean's very own Stalinist paradise? Come on, take a guess... Let me help you out here: 375 Cuban pesos ($15 USD). That one bar of bath soap costs our friendly Cuban worker just over five percent of his monthly income. Now, let's make this all relative. Let's say the current average salary in the U.S. for an individual in their mid-to-late-twenties is about $38,000 per year. That bar of soap would cost your average American "Joe" upwards of $160. Ahem, that's a bit steep. More than that, the situation in Cuba is, in a word, 'untenable'."

Missed it this year, too

In honor of 19 September, known as International Talk Like a Pirate Day: "Castro, o' course, be th' quintessential Pirate o' th' Caribbean, who spent th' last fifty year plunderin' th' arrgh isle o' Cuba wi' his band o' olive-drab'd scaliwags, takin' what'ere they could an' leavin' nothin' worth a farthing behind."
Arrgh, indeed. (Thanks to www.babalu.com for the quote.)

Michael Moore has it wrong, yet again

Seems that a lot of people are weighing in against Sicko, the new diatribe movie by Michael Moore.
Now, in the interests of transparency, I have worked for several of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies (GSK and BMS), but I don't now. I've also (recently and as a young man) been treated in major hospitals in California and Pennsylvania, so I have some experience with medical care in this country. I've even been treated at the Carolinska Institute in Stockholm, home of the committee that awards the Nobel Prize for Medicine.
But it's the Cubans (see http://blogforcuba.typepad.com/my_weblog/ and http://www.babalublog.com/ for the inside story) who really get the final say on all of this; they take Mr. Moore to task for his misrepresentation (by Michael? really? who'd a thunk it?) of the health care system on the island. (Though my man Fred weighs in, too: http://www.babalublog.com/archives/005104.html)
I'm sure.
But is it the US healthcare system, or Michael Moore?

The ultimate in irony

One doesn't know whether to laugh or cry at the sight of a security guard in Islamic garb frisking a fuckin' nun, fer Chrissake in an airport security zone. If you can't appreciate irony, how about plain old cluelessness? I hope the TSA boys put this image up on their 'wall of heroes' in DC, but I'll certainly sleep better at night knowing they're on the job...
(My thanks to Michelle Malkin for finding this gem.)

Gone but not forgotten

William Gerhardt Anton Heydenreich.
Now that is a double-barreled name. (Or vierling, in this case.)
A high school chum (and when was the last time you heard that word used) of my father's, he was on my mind this morning when I woke up.
I remember visits to his house when I was a child (including the famous time when my mother fell on me, taking us both down a long flight of stairs), but it was when he came out and lived with us in California (I would have been in late grade school at that point) that my memories of him really solidify.
He was a lot of things— an alcoholic, a notorious liar (my father always used to say "when Bill takes off his glasses, every word that comes out of his mouth is a lie until he puts them back on"), and a bad businessman (if he didn't go bankrupt, he should have)— but he was also a good friend to a young man, and I loved him.
He helped me build a very complicated, hand-designed and -built custom balsa wood and tissue glider (about a four-foot wingspan, as I recall) that actually flew.
He stayed in our back bedroom for several years (to the chagrin of my mother, as I recall, who didn't love him the way my father did), and then discovered Synanon. Though they were famous for dealing with drug addicts, they were founded by an alcoholic. My father and I attended 'guest' sessions at their massive facility in Oakland for awhile, but Bill actually moved in and 'got with the program'. The truth sessions that they conducted were hard, especially on the little white kids like me who 'dropped in' on what were, to the residents, very serious life-saving work, but I'm glad I went. You learned, fast, how to defend yourself in verbal confrontations, and how to analyze your 'opponent'. An interesting process, developed by its founder "Chuck" Dederich. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synanon for details: "with its emphasis on living a self-examined life, as aided by group truth-telling sessions known as the Synanon Game" plus "Synanon began as a two-year residential program, but Dederich soon concluded that, because full recovery was never possible, members could never graduate" plus "The 'Game' could be considered a therapeutic tool, likened to group therapy; or a social control, in which members humiliated one another and encouraged the exposure of one's innermost weaknesses, or both")
About that time I went off to college.
By the time I got back, Bill had fallen off the radar.
Eventually, I decided we needed to find him.
My father and I conducted some recon, and discovered that he'd ended up dropping out of Synanon and moving to the Sacramento area. Don't remember the exact situation, but there was a woman involved, as I recall.
Unfortunately, by the time we found him, he was gone.
As in dead.
If he'd lived, he'd be about 78 now, just like my father.
Wherever he is, I hope he's happy. He deserved that.
I remember him fondly.
Goodnight, Bill. Thanks for the memories.

22 September 2007

Still true

And she still has great tits...

21 September 2007

Flora and her post

Again, if you haven't seen Cold Comfort Farm, it won't be as funny.

Saving Social Security

Besides my own personal interest (since I became disabled) in staying on the gummint payroll, we all have parents and grandparents (and children, in some cases) to worry about.
You can send this straight to the White House at comments@whitehouse.gov if you want, or go to http://www.congress.org, enter your zip code, find email addresses for your congressperson and senators, and send them something like the following (feel free to rewrite as you choose; use I if it's just you, or We if you get friends to sign it as well):

Dear (insert President Bush or your representative's name here):
I/We wish to protest the bill, voted upon recently in the Senate, which would allow illegal aliens to access Social Security.
I/We demand that Congress require citizenship as a prerequisite for social services in the United States.
I/We further demand that no amnesty be given to illegals, along with no free services, no funding, and no payments to and for illegal immigrants.
I/We am/are fed up with giving our hard-earned tax money for services to illegals.

(your name and address here; remember, politicians respond better to people in their constituency, because they want you to vote for them next election)

As my father noted in his comment, a letter may get more attention in DC than an email. As I noted: so, write a letter. So much for technology.

Halt, ye wee feathered bugger!

A seagull gets the best of a convenience store in Aberdeen, Scotland...

Sorry for the delay

I've been trying to post some videos for your amusement.
I've been trying to avoid putting them on YouTube, but I'm still having problems figuring out the new Blogger and making it happen. (Though, for once, I think it's them and not my brain injury.)
As soon as I can, I will.
Practice patience.

Civil War for the day

The Delaware Blues acting as color guard at an N-SSA National at Fort Shenandoah.

20 September 2007

Liar, liar

It's a classic childhood rhyme, but I just loved the image...

Also see http://ricorant.blogspot.com/2007/09/liar-liar-pants-on-fire.html#links below

New cat, newer name

Seems the cat didn't speak Japanese. (She doesn't speak English either, but we do.) We went from her name being Nekko (which is Japanese for cat) to Hana (Japanese for flower), and now she's Flora. (But if you've never seen Chris' favorite movie, Cold Comfort Farm, you should. The lead character is named Flora, and she's frequently referred to by several of the other characters, and sometimes herself, as 'Robert Post's child'. We're seen it a bunch of times, and it's still hysterical. Helps if you like mannered British films, true, but see it regardless.)

19 September 2007

Someone knows

Check out these books by Robert Spencer at http://www.jihadwatch.org/; he covers the ground pretty well. Be sure to read his bio, too; it confronts the 'issues' about how he gets to write this stuff, even if he's not a Muslim.

I don't think so

Many many news reports about an incident in Baghdad where Blackwater contractors (see http://www.blackwaterusa.com/ for details on the company) had a shootout in the streets with 'insurgents', leaving somewhere between 6 and 10 Iraqis dead and several wounded. (The stats vary, as is usual with war reporting.)
But the gotcha in several of the reports was a note that a Blackwater helicopter had taken part in the action, spraying the insurgents on the ground and, presumably, causing some of the claimed civilian casualties.
Helicopter? Now, I know that the civilian contractors have gunned-up for their mission, but somehow I don't see the Army permitting a helicopter (especially an armed one) to be flown around Iraq by civilians...

Who knew?

Seems, according to Wikipedia and others, that FDR may not have had polio after all.
There's considerable post-mortem forensic analysis that indicates he had Guillain-Barré syndrome instead.
Not that it really mattered, but the phobia about polio at the time meant that his life was so distorted, as a public figure, that having GBS might have been better, psychologically if not politically.

Which presidents saw the elephant

From my embedded reporter in New Orleans, this list of presidential service records, thus ending a series of "who did and who didn't" emails:

Presidents who served in combat:
George Washington, American Revolution, Commander in Chief of Continental Army
James Monroe, American Revolution
Andrew Jackson, American Revolution, War of 1812, First Seminole War
William Henry Harrison, Indian wars in the NW territory, War of 1812
John Tyler, War of 1812
Zachary Taylor, War of 1812; Black Hawk, Second Seminole, and Mexican wars
Franklin Pierce, Mexican War
James Buchanan, War of 1812
Abraham Lincoln, Black Hawk War
Andrew Johnson, Civil War
Ulysses S, Grant, Mexican War, Civil War
Rutherford B. Hayes, Civil War
James Garfield, Civil War
Chester A. Arthur, Civil War
Benjamin Harrison, Civil War
William McKinley, Civil War; shot by a foreign national
Theodore Roosevelt, Spanish-American War
Harry Truman, WWI
Dwight Eisenhower, WWII; ended up as a four star general
John Kennedy, WWII (had PT boat blown up under him)
Lyndon Johnson, WWII
Richard Nixon, WWII
Gerald Ford, WWII
George Herbert Walker Bush, WWII (shot down)

Presidents who were in the military but saw no action:
James Madison
James Polk
Millard Fillmore
Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan (kept out of combat due to bad eyesight)
George W. Bush (current president)

Presidents with no military experience:
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
John Quincy Adams
Martin Van Buren
Grover Cleveland
William Taft
Woodrow Wilson
Warren G. Harding
Calvin Coolidge
Herbert Hoover
Franklin D. Roosevelt (though he served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and all four sons serve in WW2)
Bill Clinton (the only conscientious objector, so far, to be elected President)

Presidents in office during wartime:
George Washington, the end of the Revolution, war with Native Americans in Ohio
Thomas Jefferson, Tripolitan War against the Barbary pirates
James Madison, War of 1812 against the British
James Monroe, First Seminole War
Andrew Jackson, Blackhawk War
Martin Van Buren, Aroostook War; Second Seminole War
William Henry Harrison, Second Seminole War
John Tyler, Second Seminole War
James Polk, Mexican War
James Buchanan, beginning of the Civil War
Abraham Lincoln, remainder of the Civil War; killed by an enemy civilian at the end of the war
William McKinley, Spanish-American War; Boxer Rebellion
Woodrow Wilson, WW1
Warren G. Harding, formally concluded WW1
Franklin D. Roosevelt, start of WW2
Harry Truman, conclusion of WW2; start of Korean War
Dwight Eisenhower, conclusion of Korean War; beginning of Vietnam War
John Kennedy, Bay of Pigs Invasion; early days of Vietnam War
Lyndon Johnson, Vietnam War, Dominican Republic
Richard Nixon, end of Vietnam War
Ronald Reagan, invasion of Grenada
George H.W. Bush, invasion of Panama; war in Iraq 1
George W. Bush, war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, war in Iraq 2; peacekeeping in Iraq and Afghanistan

Presidents who did not preside over a war during their terms:
John Adams
John Quincy Adams
Zachary Taylor
Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce
Andrew Johnson
Ulysses S. Grant
James Garfield
Chester A. Arthur
Grover Cleveland
Theodore Roosevelt
William Taft
Calvin Coolidge
Herbert Hoover
Jimmy Carter (he was president at the start of the War on Terror, but just didn't know it at the time)

Quotes for the day

Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he's too old to fight, he'll just kill you. (Fair warning to my readers: I'm too old to fight. Never liked it, especially the few times I did get into one, but I'm way past that now. While I won't provoke a fight, and I'll walk away from one if I can, push hard enough and I will shoot you. And I shoot pretty well, too.)

An armed man will kill an unarmed man with monotonous regularity.

When seconds matter, the cops are just minutes away.

If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck.

I carry a gun, because a cop is too heavy.

I would rather be your friend, but if you are not interested in that, I am prepared to be a capable and efficient enemy.
Jeff Cooper

The purpose of fighting is to win. There is no possible victory in defense. The sword is more important than the shield and skill is more important than either. The final weapon is the brain. All else is supplemental.
John Steinbeck

A reporter did a human interest piece on the Texas Rangers. The reporter recognized the Colt Model 1911 the Ranger was carrying and asked him, "Why do you carry a forty five?" The Ranger responded: "Because they don't make a forty six."
They do, of course, and all the way up to a fifty, but 'why spoil the beauty of the thing with reality'?
(That's a quote from The Wind and the Lion, one of my favorite movies, in case you didn't recognize it. The John Huston character, as I recall.)

The old sheriff was attending a dinner when a lady commented on his wearing his sidearm: "Sheriff, I see you have your pistol. Are you expecting trouble?"
The old sheriff shook his head: "No, ma'am. If I were expecting trouble, I would have brought my rifle."

Rico says: all true.

18 September 2007

Why, oh why does he have to be from PA?

Rep. Jack Murtha, D (PA), doing the big weasel act in the House elevator lobby.
While Rep. Barney Frank, let alone Senator Ervin of Watergate fame (or even Fred Thompson, ex-senator and current actor and my candidate for president), can get away with that big beefy look, Murtha just looks like a doofus in a suit...

Is 'oops' a scientific term?

Seems that NASA made a teeny little math error when computing temperature data for the last century or two. Seems that 1998, thought to be the warmest year on record, isn't. Seems that 1934 is, followed by several other years in the 30s... As a matter of fact, 5 of the 10 warmest years in the millenium were before WW2. The difference isn't huge, but significant. No one has yet been fired for this little scientific fuckup...

Just saying so, no matter how well, don't make it so

These people: http://tinyurl.com/3e4pj9 want desperately to have you believe that 'someone' (anyone; the culprits are unnamed) wired the entirety of both World Trade Center buildings on the chance that someone might eventually fly some airplanes into them. (Conveniently, someone did, though the intervening time is unspecified.)
Amazingly, but not surprisingly, they don't show the miles of wire (let alone all the drilling and mortaring) required to plant those demolition charges and have them go off in the right order to pancake the building. Nor did they ever interview anyone that saw it happen.
Occam's Razor, people, sorry. The simple solution is that the planes flew into the buildings, taking out the structural core, and the fires weakened the floor pans until the weight of the buildings brought them down.
It's a great video, though; very well done and worth watching, all two-hours plus of it.
Just don't believe a minute of it.
Rico says they're telling convenient half-truths, if brilliantly presented and almost believable. In the face of 2600 dead and countless injured by the collapse of the buildings, that's damnable...

Quote for the decade

"The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within."
from http://www.jihadwatch.org/

Okay, now you've been warned.
'Those people' are serious about this.
We should be, too.

Great graphics. Bad idea.

Very nice design. (I especially like the sihouetted figure; wish I'd done the poster, actually.) Underneath in Arabic is Qur’an 9:20: “Those who believe, and have left their homes and striven with their wealth and their lives in Allah’s way are of much greater worth in Allah’s sight. These are they who are triumphant.” Seems that he's no longer a threat, fortunately (my thanks to Robert Spencer at jihadwatch for the story): Houssein Zorkot, a third-year medical student at Wayne State University in Michigan, was arrested on September 8 at Hemlock Park in Detroit. He was wearing camouflage makeup, black clothes, and carrying an AK-47 assault rifle; he reportedly had to be tasered by police when he was arrested. The start of Zorkot’s personal jihad will have to wait; he is being held on $1 million dollar bond.

Just imagine...

...if they'd run this on the front page of the New York Times in the election of 1956. (Not that they would have dared. They would also have been strung up from the nearest lightpole...)

Note the conspicuous lack of fruit salad on his chest, especially when compared to any officer these days, let alone one with five stars on his epaulets. My embedded New Orleans reporter says they're the DSM with 2 oak leaf clusters (Army), Navy DSM, and the Legion of Merit. He also notes of those beribboned officers that they have "so much salad on their chest you want to put balsamic vinegrette on them and have lunch".

Quote for the day

"The direct use of physical force is so poor a solution to the problem of limited resources that it is commonly employed only by small children and great nations."
David Friedman in The Machinery of Freedom

17 September 2007

An old war but a good one

Seems that today, 17 September, is the anniversary of Operation Market Garden, memorialized in A Bridge Too Far (a good movie, a better book). It wasn't the end, but it was the beginning of the end, of World War Two.
We owe a huge debt to those men remaining (as WW2 vets die off at nearly 2000 a day) who put their lives on the line to free a continent from the Nazis.
As for the Germans, of course, bummer of a loss. Couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of guys...

One of my dear friends, Rob Buiskool, who lives in Arnhem, actually had a bit part in A Bridge Too Far (if you watch the movie, that's him behind Robert Redford as they paddle small boats madly across the river at Nijmegen under movie-squib 'fire' from the Germans); he had a great time. I'm very proud he had the opportunity to portray a significant moment not only in the history of the world, but the history of the Netherlands.
Rico says check it out.

9.11 rap

If anyone wonders why, this is why. If anyone wonders who, this is who. Stand up and salute. Ooo-rah... (Thanks to Blackfive, http://www.blackfive.net, for finding this guy.)

Middle Earth lives

Seems that "hardware techies at Apple are regularly sent from California for intense two-week shifts to the city-sized FoxConn factory in Shenzhen, China where iPods are made and tested. Internally at Apple this is known as being sent to Mordor."
But someone else noted that "as an Apple technie, being sent to China for factory work is more like going to Mos Eisley Spaceport. A more wretched hive of scum and villany does not exist anywhere else in the galaxy."

Gotta love that globalization, right?

No one I know, fortunately

When I went looking for the derivation of that delicious line "She who must be obeyed" (from Rumpole of the Bailey, one of my most-favorite-ever television series), I ran across this:
and this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/She_(novel) "The title is short for She Who Must Be Obeyed, a translation of the Arabic honorific used for Ayesha by the Amahagger, a tribe whom she has enslaved."

Learn something new every day...

A Ford ad?

Oh, Tom Ford. Well, that makes more sense.
You can check out the rest of them here (none of them more office safe than this one): http://wwtdd.com/post.phtml?pk=2877

(My thanks to countertopchronicles.com for this link.)

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