heroes aren’t like in the movies, part 2

File created with CoreGraphicsRest in Peace, Adam West

The heroes of my childhood were black and white.   Well, they were.  We did not get a color TV in my home until I was in 7th or 8th Grade.   As a child of the 1960s, I watched Batman and Robin, with Adam West and Burt Ward.  It was a campy good versus evil, solving the crisis that befell Gotham in thirty minutes or less Continue reading

heroes aren’t like in the movies

There are things that we remember from our youth ( or while I was still ‘under 30’) that should be left in those musty corners of our mental garage.  Just like the old cassette tape  I found during one ‘Spring Cleaning’ out there,  hearing the Split Endz again – or 38 Special  just doesn’t make me “feel” the same thirty years later.   Same thing tonight. A little casual dinner on the couch while watching the beginning of “Highlander” – the one with Sean Connery and Christopher Lambert.  (I recognized the villain, but I can’t remember his name.)   The effects are so rudimentary and the dialogue is rather lame – Sean Connery sounds a Scot but is supposed to be Spanish; however, Chris Lambert – he’s got one of those Kevin Costner-like non-accents due apparently to limited ability to speak English.

Even the swordplay and beheadings are cheesy.   I am trying to figure out why that movie spawned sequels and a television series.  Men in kilts?  Swords?  Perhaps it is the decades in the Navy that have colored my judgement.  I often let reality get in the way of plot on a lot of alien, superhero, or alien versus battleship dramas.   I should have read Mental Floss ‘s review here before I realized a few minutes in that watering the plants and picking up the dog poop was a better use of my time.

I offer a list of dropped must-have guy movies (or TV collections) of the last 30 years.    Some I don’t get why I liked them in the first place.  I don’t have either on DVD or nor recorded on the DVR:

  1. Top Gun (I still can watch Minority Report – for Max Von Sydow ) Cruise movies annoy me
  2. Die Hard (sequels)  ( the first was a classic, then they just kept coming)
  3. Highlander ( love Connery, but fast-forward 20 years to see how comic book-type movies are made WELL)
  4. Smokey and the Bandit ( Gleason’s last films, but such a dumb plot!)
  5. Battlestar Galactica (1978) (Lorne Greene still Cartwright for me !)
  6. Star Trek (only one of those movies I’ll watch again is Wrath of Khan with Monteban – I saw the original TV episode and loved the movie.)  However, the reboot movies with Chris Pine are great!
  7. Talledega Nights  ( now I wonder why I thought Ferrell was funny)
  8.  X-men after the first one.  I cannot keep up with the comic book plot jumps)
  9. Outlaw Josey Wales ( I prefer the Eastwood movies he’s made since 2000)
  10. Taken.  I liked Liam Neeson’s portrayals in Star Wars, the villain in Batman Begins, and Taken -even Love, Actually.  Then he just annoyed me with his Taken sequels   and his anti-gun off-screen preaching.

I think I need to watch Gladiator,  Lone Survivor,  and any of the movies that Sam Elliott was in. Testosterone, guts, courage and attitude.  What we need now more than ever are heroes: dads who want to raise their children responsibly,  people who recognize the effort and support the work of cops, volunteers to help our senior citizens  and young people who don’t want a hand out, or a “safe space”.

In memoriam

Their feet rush into sin;
    they are swift to shed innocent blood.
They pursue evil schemes;
    acts of violence mark their ways. Isaiah 59:7

Prayers go out tonight to the victims of yet another terror attack in London.  Mayhem and murder committed by corrupt men.   In London, Manchester, Kabul or Manila the violent seem to strike randomly.

What these acts of terror have generated however is a resolve among the population to oppose evil.  While many, myself included want to take up arms to defend against these monsters,  those who prowl around looking to shed blood (1 Peter 5: 8) are ultimately opposed by love.  When children no longer are taught to hate from remote corners of the world, then terror will have no power here.

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  

-1 Corinthians 13: 4 -7


May memories

A lot changes in forty years. In  May, 1977,  prior to my departure for Boot Camp at Naval Training Center, San Diego in October,  I was graduating high school.   Jimmy Carter was President, a fact that I thought, being a former naval submariner officer, would make him an excellent leader.   People didn’t want Gerald Ford as he had pardoned ‘criminal’ Richard Nixon, but I remember him for sending in Marines to retrieve the Mayaguez, which had been seized by the Khmer Rouge a month after the last battle involving U.S. troops of the Vietnam War.

In those last two years of the Seventies,  the Zumwalt-era of loosened grooming standards – longer hair, mustaches and beards worn by Sailors were okay.  Dungarees (bell-bottom style) and dixie cups, were the working uniform.   Pot was a problem on military bases including San Diego.   A community that now is marked by the upwardly-mobile, well-heeled beach crowd, Ocean Beach, was then a place where druggies and ex-military,  tattoo parlors and bars were less restrictive than up the coast near the UCSD campus.

A visit over the Coronado Bridge to the Naval Station Coronado, where carriers were berthed was my first view of a ship – the USS Recruit was a wood and metal reproduction on the Recruit Training Command, to introduce us to naming convention, etc – so did not count.  The ‘aroma’ of the interior of the USS Kitty Hawk was the first ‘knock out’ that I will never forget.  Jet fuel, grease, human sweat, urinals and generally,  the stink of at times, 3500 men (no women then) wafted fresh new sailors who had more recently been accustomed to PINE SOL clean scent.

At the time, I was a student learning to work on complex electronics and mechanical maintenance of teletypes.  Where I now cannot see without at least one or two orders of magnitude, I was able then to discern two from three centimeters adjustments.  The instructor was quite ADAMANT about that ability before graduation.   We had Iranian military students – this was prior to the Iranian Revolution – and when they were recalled by their government,  we were relieved.   Suffice it to say that American and Iranian hygiene were on different tracks.

In May of 1982,  with several of my fellow Russian Language students and the professor – I was able to travel  to Russia – prior to the end of the USSR (1989) – visiting cities – St Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev and Tbilisi.  If only for all but one – a socialist-  the trip was very informative and probably saved them and their future families from the ‘snowflake’ sensibilities, the mantra of “coexistence” and “socialism’s great”.  The people may have been interesting and interested, but the economy was a shambles. Ambition was reserved for the underground economy — some of whom are today’s Russian millionaires and billionaires.

In May of 1984,  I had been out of the Navy four years, attending the university in Tucson, Arizona.  Four three of those four years I had been actively involved in the Veteran students organization on campus,  and while peers were pursuing commissioning programs,  I was looking toward a government job after graduation.  Strangely,  in my second year after graduation,  when my graduate school plans went unfunded – I re-enlisted in the Navy -Reserve – that is.  The entreaties of one of my friends finally had me join his unit, only to see him quit!

After petitioning to resume an Active Duty career in 1987,  the next major May milestone I recall was May of 1997 when I was transferred from Norfolk, Virginia to San Diego, California.    1970 Dodge Chargers, if you could find one in decent shape were then ten thousand dollars or more,  homes which had been an unheard of, eighty thousand dollars – for an ocean view, were nearly eight hundred thousand,  and NTC was closed but for a few administrative medical functions.

And in the twenty years since that time,  friends and mentors went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq,  the Soviets became Russian trade partners, the Chinese became the world’s second-most powerful economy, the Islamic world tried to separate the economic need for the non-Islamic world – from the ideology that wants to reduce infidels to ashes,  and we are again at some form of odds over military preparedness against the adversaries that were no longer adversaries?



Last humanist standing?

Tonight, it was during a television show that I found some time for reflection.   Tim Allen’s comic touch on his TV series, Last Man Standing, is very engaging.  While we generally are spending time after work with our church family, working on chores at home, and writing (my wife and I both have blogs),  this was a moment to enjoy a little quiet time.

Over the last decade, television in the United States has really turned me off, but for a couple of shows that both my wife and I like to watch together. Television exaggerates stereotypes, current events, criminal behavior, and sexuality to capture viewers.  Yet with Last Man Standing, I think it is great that this show can portray the timeless interplay of parents and children – who are not children but grown into fledgling adults. And depicts topics with a touch of humor that also makes a point.  In tonight’s episode,  a scene where black neighbors and Tim’s character and wife meet for a barbecue, the wife constantly is making references to “show how ‘colorblind’ she is”. The husband, Tim’s character, pokes fun at how she sounds, and then makes a comment that the wife says “sounds racist”.

“I’m not racist. I’m a humanist. I hate everyone equally.”

Families are depicted as we actually are – sometimes we do sound ignorant, or a little too blunt towards each other, and at other times say things that are  “politically incorrect”.    In 2017, people in the United States have split into opposing camps, those who yearn for ‘how it used to be’ and those who want everyone to conform to the “new normal”.   Where has humor, civility, disagreement, and free expression gone?

I look back fondly to my military service.  I understood the military as the conversion of the willing into a homogeneous offensive or defensive unit.  It was also my conversion to educated citizen of the world.   Each culture has advantages and disadvantages, with  different ideas, customs and history.   As a result of a military uniform,  I was able to see the benefits of living in America come into sharper focus despite the nation’s ills.

That is why I am becoming fond of family comedy of the sort that Tim Allen’s show represents.  It allows a little relief from contemplating all the challenges around the globe.   I am a different sort of humanist.  I love people individually.  I am learning to have an open mind toward the rest.

Whatever became of R. Lee Ermey ?

Since 1987 when R. Lee Ermey portrayed the iconic Marine Corps Drill Instructor in Full Metal Jacket, he has been in numerous film and television roles.  And then Hollywood found itself in a situation that rivals the “non-person” erasure of critics of the Soviet system.  Like Charlton Heston before him, John Wayne and other icons who find themselves on the wrong side of revisionist history,  Ermey has no invitations to appear in anything produced in Hollywood.

In publicly disagreeing with then-President Obama in 2010, by expressing the opinion that it was the Administration’s aim and policy to change the United States into a socialist state,  Ermey ran counter to the whole industry.  It was also his association with the NRA, this one-time supposed Liberal ( a Marine Vietnam veteran),  that after a long career, he found himself on Hollywood’s blacklist.   The irony, for those who do not recall it,  in the 1950’s Hollywood actors and producers were being investigated by the House Un-American Activities committee for communist sympathizers within their industry.  The never forgave the Republican party for this. At some point, the campus revolutionaries and anti-war protestors took possession of the cultural institutions, college campuses, bureaucracies and political offices. As both corporate entities and even states have learned during the Obama Presidency,  un-approved views and policies, are subject to commercial asphyxiation and shunning.

From several of the Marines I served with and got to know during my 25 years in the military,  I know that all of them might have different views on politics, leadership and our role in the world,  but have first and foremost been champions of their fellow Marines and the services,    Though I have known and respect certain men and women who pursue a career in Hollywood,  I also know that as a Christian, that environment, so much about image, appearance  and so little based on substance and tolerance -to differing views -would be toxic.