Saturday, January 24, 2015

Dance into the fire

I have been away from home for a week and two days (Why not say "for nine days" .... why not ??), and I am not certain when I will be returning there. This venture might be described as "unfinished business." Without further adieu, I decided to issue a post of sorts today -- January 24 -- because it is the anniversary of me becoming a U.S. Marine. (A dance into the fire .... it seemed like a good idea at the time ....) To mark the event here this year, I have selected a painting entitled, "Battle of Nassau," by V. Zveg. This engagement was among the first by the Continental Navy and Marine Corps, and the first-ever amphibious landing by U.S. Marines. The assault on New Providence Island in the Bahamas took place on March 3, 1776. The Marines captured Fort Montagu and the town of Nassau, which were under British control. The purpose of the raid was to take British munitions needed by the Continental Army in the struggle for American independence. The music here is a strange mix no matter how you consider it: First, one of the James Bond themes, "A View to a Kill," from the Bond 50th Anniversary Gala Concert .... love the song, love singer Lance Ellington's voice and style, love the gold coat and unfettered enthusiasm of director Carl Davis .... you figure the rest. Next, "Ya Zdes" (I'm Here) .... love Valery Kipelov's voice, love Victor Smolski's fiery shirt and even more fiery guitar work .... you figure the rest .... hmmmm .... whatever .... semper fi, baby ....


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I am embarrassed .... how about you ??

I guess since this was not a fund raiser or an opportunity to display his so-called oratorical brilliance, it was not an important enough event for Barack Obama to attend. You know him, the president-when-he-is-in-the-mood-for-it of the United States? This was the march by an estimated 1.5 million people along the Boulevard Voltaire in Paris, France, in a demonstration Sunday meant to illustrate the power of unity and freedom of expression over the barbarism of Islamic fanaticism and terror. With seventeen victims dead in France, French President François Hollande, arm-in-arm with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and flanked by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and a host of European and African leaders led the march. Some say they understand why Emperor Obama was not present, but admit he should not have prevented the vice president, the secretary of state or even the attorney general, who actually already was in Paris, to take part in this expression of sympathy for the victims and outrage at the perpetrators. I am not so generous. I am angered and embarrassed. I think Obama -- any U.S. president, no matter what his name -- should have been in the midst of the march and that his absence is just one more demonstration that Obama has no character, no dignity, no intestinal fortitude, no moral integrity and is an absolute megalomaniac. Beyond his failures as a man, as a leader, as a president, at some point someone will have to become hard core vs. the assorted "barbarians at the gates." Maybe, that will happen now, but do not count on an Obama Administration to lead the way. Incidentally, the photograph comes from AFP/Getty Images. I hope they will forgive me for "borrowing it" as a professional courtesy to someone who spent sixteen years here and there as a journalist, and had some super "journalistic moments" running alongside some super photographers. I would have loved to have been in Paris for this event, both as a journalist and as a human being. As for the music, here are a singer and a painter who, unlike most alive today, understood while they lived and, as the "Old Greeks" once knew, that art = the creation of beauty.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

You know my name .... it is Infidel

(Editor's Note: Being a gentleman lost out this time and, pardon the expletive, to hell with political correctness. This is the second part to the email I received from an old friend, a once-upon-a-time captain in the U.S. Army. He is further right politically, further toward military solutions to problems, further .... well, you know, further than me, but he also is more of a social liberal in many other regards than am I. (Life is a mix, not a doctrine written in stone, in case you have not noticed.) To complete this circle, I have gone to the internet and ordered a couple of t-shirts which include the word, "Infidel," on them, front and back. I want no mistakes made in that regard. I will stand against anyone who attempts to impose religious restrictions/beliefs upon others. Again, I am tired beyond measure of a do-nothing Congress and an ostrich for a president, and I need to unleash a bit of this frustration in a post. In a sentence, I am disillusioned with a United States that does nothing about massacres of civilians in Syria or about Russian invasions of the Ukraine or about Christians being persecuted in any number of countries. I do not turn the other cheek and I resent American politicians who do. Again, there is no illustration/photograph to accompany this post. And, the musical selection is much shorter than it was in my last post. It is an instrumental rendition of: "You Know My Name," from the James Bond film "Casino Royale." In this instance, my name is "Infidel.") 

 U.S. Navy Directive 16134

Inappropriate T-Shirts

The following directive was issued by the commanding officer of all naval installations in the Middle East.

(Editor's side note: It obviously was directed at the Marines.)

To:  All Commands
Subject: Inappropriate T-Shirts
Ref:  ComMidEast For Inst 16134//24 K

All commanders promulgate upon receipt:

The following T-shirts are no longer to be worn, on or off base, by any military, or civilian personnel, serving in the Middle East:

1. 'Eat Pork or Die'
  [Both English and Arabic versions]

2.  'Shrine Busters'
  [Various.  Show burning minarets or bomb/artillery shells impacting Islamic shrines.  Some with unit logos.]

3.  'Goat  - it isn't just for breakfast any more.'
  [Both English and Arabic versions]

4.  'The road to Paradise begins with me.'
  [Mostly Arabic versions, but some in English. Some show sniper scope cross-hairs.]

5.  'Guns don't kill people. I kill people.'

6.  'Pork. The other white meat.'

7.  'Infidel'

The above T-shirts are to be removed from Post Exchanges upon receipt of this directive.

In addition, the following signs are to be removed upon receipt of this message:

1.  'Islamic Religious Services Will Be Held at the Firing Range at 0800 Daily.'

2.  'Do we really need 'smart bombs' to drop on these dumb bastards?'

All commands are instructed to implement sensitivity training upon receipt.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Sort of military rules of engagement

(Editor's Note: I have a friend who once was an officer in the U.S. Army [Yes, I occasionally do associate with Army-types.] and who recently sent me an email entitled, "Military Rules of Engagement." As he points out, it obviously was written by a Marine or a once-upon-a-time Marine. As some of you might recall, January 24 is the anniversary of signing my name on the dotted line with the U.S. Marine Corps. I thought I might run this email then, on that "magical, mystical, mysterious anniversary day" [Yes, I am trying to be funny.], but I am having a rough month and decided I cannot wait until then. [Who knows where life will have taken us by then .... and, I need a few laughs now ....] I will add that while this piece undoubtedly will offend a few who are devoted politically correct individuals, it is pretty typical of military humor and the "good-natured" insults that go back and forth between members of the various branches of the U.S. military. How much truth is involved here, how much sarcasm, how much silliness .... well, I will leave it to you to decide. So, here is your choice: Either laugh with us or point your nose higher in the air and stop reading right now. By the way, there is a "part two" to this; I am not certain I will run it .... political correctness .... bah, humbug !! And, while there is no illustration today, there is a bit of rock music with some absolutely fantastic guitar work by Michael Schenker to accompany the words. So, here are the "rules of engagement" as someone, somewhere believes them to be .... semper fi, baby ....)

US Marine Corps Rules:
1.   Be courteous to everyone, friendly to no one.
2.   Decide to be aggressive enough, quickly enough.
3.   Have a plan.
4.   Have a back-up plan, because the first one probably won't work.
5.   Be polite.  Be professional.  But have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
6.   Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun whose caliber does not start with a '4.'
7.   Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice.  Ammo is cheap.  Life is expensive.
8.   Move away from your attacker.  Distance is your friend.  (Lateral and diagonal preferred.)
9.   Use cover or concealment as much as possible.
10. Flank your adversary.  When possible, protect yours.
11. Always cheat; always win.  The only unfair fight is the one you lose.
12. In ten years, nobody will remember the details of caliber, stance, or tactics. They will only remember who lived.

13. If you are not shooting, you should be communicating your intention to shoot.

US Army Ranger Rules:
1.  Walk in 50 miles wearing 75 pound rucksack while starving.
2.  Locate individuals requiring killing.
3.  Request permission via radio from 'Higher' to perform killing.
4.  Curse bitterly when mission is aborted.
5.  Walk out 50 miles wearing a 75 pound rucksack while starving.

US Army Rules:
1.  Curse bitterly when receiving operational order.
2.  Make sure there is extra ammo and extra coffee.
3.  Curse bitterly.
4.  Curse bitterly.
5.  Do not listen to 2nd Lieutenants; it can get you killed.
6.  Curse bitterly.

US Air Force Rules:
1.  Have a cocktail.
2.  Adjust temperature on air-conditioner.
3.  See what's on HBO.
4.  Ask 'What is a gunfight?'
5.  Request more funding from Congress with a 'killer' Power Point presentation.
6.  Wine and dine 'key' Congressmen, invite DOD and defense industry executives.
7.  Receive funding, set up new command and assemble assets.
8.   Declare the assets 'strategic' and never deploy them operationally.
9.   Hurry to make 13:45 tee-time.
10. Make sure the base is as far as possible from the conflict, but close enough to have tax exemption.
11  Always have ICE CREAM.

US Navy SEAL Rules: 
1.  Look very cool in sunglasses.
2.  Kill every living thing in sight.
3.  Adjust Speedo.
4.  Check hair in mirror.

US Navy Rules:
1. Go to Sea.
2. Drink Coffee.
3. Insert SEALS.
4. Deploy Marines.
5. Launch Aircraft and Missiles 350 miles away from fighting.
6. Drink more Coffee.
7. Shout: Go Navy!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

View looking down into a canyon of a city

This Blackberry view belongs to anyone who dares to fly .... and, who is not bothered by a bit of fog. The first song may be for me; the second song may be for she.

So much for resolutions
No resolutions this year. I made five last year (that I recall), and did not manage to keep a single one of them. Here they are in abbreviated form:
To participate in an archaeological dig. Nope.
To visit a certain town and war memorial in Germany. No, I did not make it, but I will continue to think about doing so .... this year, maybe ??
To kiss a woman or two who I never had kissed before. No-o-o-o-o .... actually, I am beginning to wonder if my heart and my head are frozen in the past, and if I hesitate too much, too often, for fear of making a bad choice/poor decision.
To exercise twice a day, at least five days a week. Well, I scored about six out of ten on that one.
To cut down on my whining. Never will I accomplish that task, even if I would live to be one hundred.
So, no resolutions for 2015 .... but, I am open to suggestions.
A medical puzzle
The first segment of this post might seem frivolous, but my mood is not. I am wired, strung out, nerved up and on edge, as I have described myself from time to time to a beautiful, young lady I once pursued. The music here this evening is a good indicator of my state of mind.
Physically, at least, I am all in one piece. My doctor pronounced me in perfect health and excellent condition following my annual examination the day after Christmas. Too bad my mind does not keep pace with my body. I am open to suggestions in this regard, too.

At the moment, Benedictine or brandy or Southern Comfort is my "calm and cool medication" of choice. My doctor had nothing better to recommend. I think I puzzle her and frustrate her .... in a medical manner, I mean .... and, I have a couple of old scars which seem to intrigue her ....


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year & dream on

Where has time gone? It must be somewhere. Or, is it nowhere? Was it ever real? The pocket watch in the photograph (the case of which, incidentally, is 14K solid gold) was made in 1883 and once was held in the hand of a living, breathing, dreaming man who long ago (pardon the allusion) became dust in the wind. The wrist watch only dates to 2011, has more than a bit of gold itself (love it) and still adorns than arm of a living, breathing, dreaming man -- but, one who seems to have lost his way reconciling time present with time past, which is necessary to move along into time future. Did I lose you? Never mind. As for the music, beginning and end are dreams .... or, should that be, end and beginning are dreams ??

Measuring time in black & white

Have you ever .... have you ever lost your past? This is to say, your past does not seem like reality, like events you experienced, like moments you lived? Rather, your past seems like chapters in books you have read, like episodes in films you have watched, like fragments in dreams you have had on restless nights?

That seems to be what I am in the midst of right now. It is like I have no real past. It is like all there is for me -- all that exists for me -- is the present. There is now; no before. Whether or not there is a future, a tomorrow, a time after awakening in the morning, I am uncertain.
It sounds silly, perhaps. It sounds ludicrous, crazy, ridiculous, like fiction, perhaps. But, it is none of those things. It is my reality.
There is no past. There may be no future. There is only now, and now comes and goes in the blink of an eye or in a glance at the sweep of the second hand on a clock -- whichever lasts the longer.
Whatever .... it seems like an improbable but distinctive way to begin another new year, which may or may not actually exist. Dream, baby .... sweet dreams, baby, for as long as it lasts .... and, do not look at the calendar to measure actual time, because it is done by the mind, not by the orbits of the planets ....



Something special ....