Saturday, December 31, 2005

Getting ready to head back

My leave is up tomorrow (New Year's Day, the bastards), and I'll be flying back to Louisville in the afternoon. Since I had to switch rooms at the last minute before departing for New York two weeks ago, all my stuff is in hideous disarray, and the Innernet People say they don't schedule hook-up appointments for 2006 yet. So it might be a little while before I'm back around online.

Leave has been good, save for one or two ugly scenes that happened downtown (only partially my fault in any single case). But to spare the reputations of everyone involved, I'd rather skip the descriptions and just point out that sometimes it's good to get away from a certain area -- it gives the bouncers time to forget whatever stunts you may or may not have pulled after they let you in.

Anyway, happy New Year to everyone who stops by here. Mine will be fairly quiet -- I'm driving BroAnimal down to the Poconos in a couple minutes and will get to say hello to a few old friends from university. But I'll be turning around right after that to come home for a low-key fondue & champagne New Year's eve event, and we might wander downtown and watch the Cortland New Year's Ball drop the three stories down from the clocktower on Main Street.

And that's it from my end. Thank God this rotten year is over.


Friday, December 23, 2005

Meandering, subject-less, self-absorbed nonsense

I'm home, and everyone else has gone to bed. It's left me with a glass or two of red wine to sip, and a dog-eared copy of The Proud Highway to mull over.

Perhaps one of the most interesting news items I've come across lately is the Red Sox selling Johnny Damon to the Yankees. My brother told me about that two days ago, and since then, it's been a media madhouse in Boston.

Later, I watched my brother pull on a Yankees ballcap and told him that only half the people in New York State would hate him, but everyone outside the state would definitely hate him were he to wear it in public. The reaction to this latest move is going to be drastic and will definitely have long-term fallout (an apt term, since it'll likely be able to be measured in half-lives). And Sox fans undoubtedly have already turned on Damon, who will be hated like Roger Clemens for the rest of eternity. However, some hard-core fans have called on Red Sox nation to be calm, since it's supposedly easy to forget that Damon has the throwing arm of a "girl throwing lefty."

It doesn't matter, though, since everyone everywhere outside the City can't wait to add another reason to hate the Yankees to their already well-notched stick, and this'll definitely be another king-hell notch. It goes to show that the Yankees can have whoever they damn well want -- Steinbrenner just has that much money to throw around.

Speaking of Steinbrenner, it'll be weird to see J. Damon without his trademark Jesus-cut -- how long has it been since anyone's seen him without the beard and Fabio-do? Frankly, I think that's worth the price of admission. Well, that, and the look on Denis Leary's face.

I didn't even mean to get off onto sports here. At all. As I write this, though, there's no title in the Title box, and I have no idea what I'm writing about -- I just had the compulsion to write. Which is good, certainly, and which I attribute completely and fully to Dr. Thompson's letters.

(Finch, if you're reading this, I owe you 10 Kuwaiti Dinars. Apparently you used a bank note as a bookmark while you were in that godforsaken country. I'll send you the equivalent in Won as soon as I get a chance.)

What I'd really meant to get into tonight was that I'm reinspired. Not only from the Thompson book, but from the prospect of maybe -- just maybe -- being freed up to do as I please in 18 months. I'm starting to become excited at the prospect of writing professionally again, despite Thompson's constant warnings about the destitution that neccessarily accompanies an early-stage freelancer. The incredible part is that once you've found someone interested in what you're doing (okay, that's a big step), your limit is basically what you can fit into your imagination and, in many cases, an expense account linked to any guarantee the publication can offer.

If that's not clear... well, shit. It makes sense to me, and I'm excited. Ideas are rocketing through my head, and the only problem is that it throws my current situation -- as an Army "journalist" -- into high-relief. I'm not doing the kind of work I ought to be, and I'm certainly not devoting the time or energy to it that I ought to be. But that's because I simply can't... there are too many limitations on my writing and movement to allow me to cover things properly, or to really flex whatever ability I have.

However, it doesn't change the fact that I've got some good ideas in mind already -- provided they're not stale by the time my active-duty contract expires. Starting from here, I can look at some issue I actually care about and ask the questions I want to find the answers to -- "Where does the money come from?" "Why do people care about this movement and what draws them to it?" "Who's profitting from all this?" "What caused such a huge change?"

And I can ask the people who matter. And have them contradict each other. That's a freedom a lot of writers take for granted. I don't have it, at the moment, and I'm yearning for it.

Enough on my own vague interpretations of my recent motivation. While I'm home, I also have to sift through the past year's contributions to The Turret and figure out what I want to submit for the yearly Army journalism competition. Maybe something on the Company E trials, maybe a commentary. I don't really know -- nothing's jumping out at me at the moment as something I want to pit against everything else Army writers have produced. Few, if any, contain the words "Iraq" or "insurgent," so I figure I'm scuttled from the get-go anyway. We'll see on that count.

Now to come up with a title for this meandering, subject-less, and self-absorbed nonsense. Selah.


EDIT: Yeah, if you didn't believe me the first time, Red Sox Nation is pissed.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

From the Good Doctor with love

Since I've no new inspiration since yesterday's angry rant against O'Reilly and the people who love him, I thought I'd supply a little Hunter S. Thompson material for the benefit of those unaware of his contributions to English and America outside the school of psychedelic self-medication:

Far from being freaks, the Hell's Angels are a logical product of the culture that now claims to be shocked by their existence. The generation represented by the editors of Time has lived so long in a world full of celluloid outlaws hustling toothpaste and hair oil that it is no longer capable of confronting the real thing. For twenty years they have sat with their children and watched yesterday's outlaws raise hell with yesterday's world... and now they are bringing up children who think Jesse James is a television character. This is a generation that went to war for Mom, God, and Apple Butter, the American Way of Life. When they came back, they crowned Eisenhower and then retired to the giddy comfort of their TV parlors, to cultivate the subtleties of American history as seen by Hollywood.

-- Hunter S. Thompson, Hell's Angels, 1966

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The War on the War on Christmas is worse than you think

Until very recently -- five minutes ago, actually -- I had been relying more or less on second-hand accounts of Fox News' Bill O'Reilly's outrage over the supposed "War on Christmas." Using the time-honored tool of the researcher, Google, I came across this at Media Matters:

O'Reilly: "War" on Christmas part of "secular progressive agenda" that includes "legalization of narcotics, euthanasia, abortion at will, gay marriage"

There's a video; please watch it and feel free to sneer while O'Reilly and John Gibson, also a Fox News anchor and author of "The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought," make fools of themselves in front of millions of television viewers.

Who knew? Little Johnny isn't going to go running into the Toys 'R Us store full of greedy dreams of giant robots and shiny trucks and have a clerk remind him that it's "Christmas" time any more -- which is sure to leave plenty of room in his tiny brain for the insidious ideologies of Marxists and queers.

Toward the end of the segment, O'Reilly even brings this up, in a way. He says, after discussing the public schools' reference to the inter-semester break in classes as a "winter break,"

"No kid's gonna come home and ask Mom what 'winter break' is. But a kid might come home and say, 'Hey, what's this Christmas thing all about? Who's this baby Jesus guy?' So look, that's on a very intellectual level, and it's behind the scenes, but these retailers are just killing... they're shooting themselves in the foot. They're just killing themselves. Because millions of people are just not going to shop in these places."
So, according to Bill, the onus of "Christmas education" is on the shoulders of our nation's retailers. This is news to me -- I was under the impression that they were the ones who'd already undone Christmas with their unending calls to crippling consumerist binges. Now that they've suggested removing even the farce of mentioning the Christian holiday, they've really become the Bad Guys.

Shouldn't it be Mom who told little Johnny about Christmas? I'd probably report myself to Child Protective Services if all my kid knew about Christmas came from Geoffery Giraffe, and I'd deserve to be arrested.

That's what really, deep down, bugs me about this entire movement: it attempts to make the public schools and private retailers responsible for what is and should remain a parental responsibility to educate their own children about faith and morals.

I certainly wouldn't trust my kids to get their religious education from anyone else... particularly not from Bill O'Reilly.


Another year grinds its way into the dust

Anno Domini 2005 is nearly finished, and thank God. I'll apologize again for lackadaisical posting, but at the moment I'm home in upstate New York and I've little motivation for doing much in the way of anything, apart from reading and going on the occasional bourbon bender.

Speaking of which, my apologies also to anyone I ran into Monday night. If you were there, you'd remember, and if not, so much so the better. Enough on that.

I've been re-reading Hunter S. Thompson's collected letters in "The Proud Highway," which contains exerpts from his extensive correspondence between 1955 and 1967, during which he joined and left the Air Force, traveled to South America, wrote a novel (unpublished until recently, "The Rum Diary") and generally lived as a starving writer, prowling the expanses of the western hemisphere.

It's been good to get some new perspective on journalism, because frankly, I've been feeling pretty burnt-out on the stuff. There's little at Fort Knox that feels significant anymore, and even the important stories can't be covered the way they ought to be: with a cynical eye cast toward anyone holding important titles and spouting optimistic nonsense.

The trick, I'm sure, is to keep writing -- for publication and otherwise -- and make sure to stay sharp. That way I'll be ready for when I finally hang up the uniform for good and get on to bigger and better things.

That's it for now. Stay tuned for a vacation adventure story or two.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Has the music died?

I took the automatic re-direct out of my last blog and was browsing through the last 10-or-so entries. I'm pretty amazed -- I actually took time to look stuff up for blog entries, I made them current, and I tried to add something to whatever public discourse was going on about a particular issue.

What the hell happened? Why did I quit writing current stuff? I mean, aside from the weekly column I repost here, there's little on this blog that deals with current events anymore.

So what's going on? I used to get comments from people who said they left A Healthy Alternative to Work well-informed and entertained. I'm not drawing that kind of response any more.

I can blame myself for at least part of my malaise here. I'm just not as motivated to write at the moment, and it's something that bothers me on a daily basis. I love writing -- or I did -- and I've pretty much committed myself to it for the long-haul. It's a bit late in the game to switch gears now. And it's not as if I've lost any of the abstract love I have for it... I just don't do it as much as I ought to be.

The other problem has been a complete disappointment I've felt in society. Politicians all seem horrible, and any move they make now seems to me to be clouded by devious, behind-the-scenes machinations that no one talks about but everyone sort of knows is going on anyway. We've come to a point where we actually swallow the bullshit fed to us on national issues, and the public debate takes place on that level: bullshit and buzzwords. If it can't be distilled into a three-minute video package, it ain't worth talking about.

So I've pretty much given up. I watch what's going on in the world around me with a sort of grim disinterest, sort of like a kid might watch an ant farm disintegrate after a week of neglect. It feels like I should care, but I just can't seem to muster up any passion about it.

Maybe it's time to recharge, which for me, involves two things: first, going out and getting inspired. That means heading up to Louisville to see the cultural scene -- anything to break through the doldrums of life in rural Kentucky. Second, it means staying in and getting inspired -- and that's by reading other people's work. I just finished Robert Mason's Chickenhawk, which I thought was great. I'm about to start Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities, which I sure hope is better than I Am Charlotte Simmons. In between, I've been picking up short pieces by David Sedaris (for a nice, cynical holiday read, try Holidays on Ice.)

A change of scenery's on the horizon, anyway. I'm about to head home to my family home in upstate New York. I leave Friday, and I'll be gone for two solid weeks -- definitely a good chance to get caught up on reality, since it seems to come in occasional spurts, at best, here.

I've also got a couple Thompson books I've been saving for just an occasion such as this -- more collected letters and essays, not the weird but structured narratives he's famous for -- and I think the Good Doctor may supply a much-needed dose of muse.

Wish me luck, friends. I'm not calling a hiatus or anything -- but I figured I'd let you know why it's been a bit on the dry side in here.



Friday, December 09, 2005

The BCS: It just won't go away

So here's the column I did for this week. Everyone whines about the BCS when it comes time for Bowl season, but I needed to throw a couple more sticks into the fire.

The BCS: It just won't go away

Turret Sports Editor

It's that time of year: sports fans nation-wide are once again bemoaning the Bowl Championship Series.

So much time has been devoted to deriding the BCS for its non-playoff system that it feels slightly redundant to rehash. This horse has been dead for a long time... but I think I'll give it a couple more kicks for good measure.

ESPN Classic ran a special last month in its "You Can't Blame" series which gave five reasons not to blame the BCS for a lack of college Division I-A football playoffs. Summarized, they are:

5 - The U.S. Supreme Court's 1984 ruling that colleges had the right to determine their television contracts, and that the NCAA had no say in the matter.

4 - That the BCS is an improvement over the old conference tie-in system, where, for example, the Rose Bowl would annually host the Big 10 and Pac 10 champions. While there may be no clear winner in the current BCS system, it at least removes the possibility of there being five or six teams crowned as "champions."

3 - Under the current system, the regular season acts as a sort of double-elimination playoff, since one loss may mean a team is out of the running for the national title, and two losses means a team is out almost for sure.

2 - The bowl games generate a lot of income for the participating schools.

1 - University presidents don't want to give up that money, and since the decision as to how to sell their contracts is up to them, the NCAA and BCS organizations are powerless to change anything.

I might be way off base here, but I think these five reasons are, without exception, lousy excuses.

Working from the top down, let's look at them one by one:

The first reason is a clear cop-out on the part of the NCAA. As an independent body, can't it determine who is granted membership? The NCAA certainly used that leverage when it came to renaming teams with names and mascots that were supposedly offensive to Native Americans.

Second: just because the BCS system is better doesn't mean it's good. The art of cooking certainly improved when humans started heating things over a fire, but we still had a fair way to go after that before we had the cheeseburger.

Third: The "season-acts-as-a-playoff" argument is little consolation to teams that wind up being ranked lower than they might thanks to the polling system. The fact of the matter is that polls are subjective, and it makes college football a lot more like a beauty pageant than it ought to be.

Fourth: The mafia made a lot of money during Prohibition by illegally selling hooch and having people murdered. How is revenue a valid excuse?

Lastly: University presidents claim they don't want a January playoff because it might interfere with academics. Nonsense. They have no problem with March Madness, and besides, they recently approved adding a twelfth regular season game to Division I-A football. The reason they don't want a playoff system is because they don't want to stake the revenue from the bowls on their teams' performances each year.

It's not hard to tell that it all comes back to money. You don't have to look any farther than the names of some of the bowl games: the Champs Sports Bowl, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, and the Outback Steakhouse Bowl. With that much cash at stake, don't expect major changes to the BCS anytime soon.


I found this on my desk this morning in the Elizabethtown News-Enterprise: "BCS head: Football playoffs could be done, but we've chosen not to" (Associated Press, via the San Diego Union-Tribune). Confirmation, perhaps?

(Rep. Joe) Barton (R-Texas) questioned the concern about academics, citing a recent report that said 41 percent of this year's bowl-bound college football teams fall below the NCAA's new academic benchmark.

"Let's don't use (academics) as an excuse not to have a playoff system -- and then ignore it," Barton said.

He also wondered aloud whether money is the biggest reason there isn't a playoff.

"Doesn't it really boil down to that the major bowls ... don't want a playoff system because you think it's going to impinge on the money that the big bowls make?" Barton said.


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Direct link to "The Opening" appearance

Having trouble finding "The Opening" clip? Here's a direct link.

Ann Coulter hates you

Among the ranks of arrogant blowhards who do nothing to advance the ideas of conservativism in the grand scheme of things, Ann Coulter holds a special place -- she's sort of the print media's version of Bill O'Reilly.

A quote:

STORRS, Connecticut (AP) -- Conservative columnist Ann Coulter cut short a speech at the University of Connecticut amid boos and jeers, and decided to hold a question-and-answer session instead.

"I love to engage in repartee with people who are stupider than I am," Coulter told the crowd of 2,600 Wednesday.
Of course, the whining reaction of the student body just shows how few testicles are actually left in this country:
"We encourage diverse opinion at UConn, but this is blatant hate speech," said Eric Knudsen, a 19-year-old sophomore journalism and social welfare major who heads campus group Students Against Hate.
Someone call little Eric up and give him some attention. And a pair. Here's the story on CNN.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I want my MTV...

... and I want my chicks for free. Well, for better or for worse, MTVu sent a production team to Fort Knox to follow me around for a day last month. You can see how it turned out by going here. Click on "Watch the Feature" when you get to the page. Note: You'll need to use Internet Explorer to open their player.

It's a sort of "day-in-the-life" of an enlisted Army journalist. The sports event - a swim meet - that I had initially intended on covering that day was cancelled, so I took the guys to some tank training out at a nearby range. We got to walk around in the mud, which I thought was a pretty good Army-type activity.

Anyway... check it out. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder where your last three minutes went.


UPDATE: I had problems getting the MTVu player to load properly. The video ran like a slide show. After much futzing around with Flash, I finally tried increasing the Windows Media Player buffer size to 20 seconds... worked like a charm. If you're having the same difficulty, just go into Media Player, open up Options, and go to the Performance tab. You can adjust the buffer setting there.

And you're still S.O.L. if you want to run it in Firefox or Netscape. Or on a Mac. In other words, it's Bill Gates' way or the highway for this one.

ANOTHER UPDATE AND SHAMELESS PLUG FOR MORE TRAFFIC: Open Post at the Mudville Gazette. Check 'em out.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Happy birthday, Rizzo

Head over to Welcome to Earth and wish BroRizzo, my brother, a very happy birthday. I won't tell you how old he is, but I will say this: he's being carded for alcohol sales less and less often. He's not quite as old as me, but the age difference is becoming more moot with every passing day.

Happy birthday, Brother. My the forces of evil become confused on their way to your home.


Saturday, December 03, 2005

Peep The Darkness' new album, yo

Head over to The Darkness' MySpace page. They've graciously placed their new album, One Way Ticket to Hell... And Back online, and you can give it a listen. That's what I'm doing right now.


Friday, December 02, 2005

An Army of One Guy

Went to the ribbon-cutting and "live-fire demonstration" of a new range they've just finished up here. I was excited -- thinking maybe I'd get to shoot some more Big Boomy pictures, like in Korea -- until I found out we'd be watching the live-fire via a feed from a FLIR camera. Damn.

But I did get this shot, which I liked. I call it, "An Army of One Guy."

Actually, I should probably call it "An Army of One Guy. And a tank. An Army of One Guy and a Tank."


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Bad "News"

This certainly isn't a good item to find in the Early Bird:

WASHINGTON -- As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.

The articles, written by U.S. military "information operations" troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country.

Read the rest here, at the L.A. Times.


Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Christmas Past visits Mr. Irvin

Yeah, I'm feeling lazy and un-blog-like, so here's the column I did for this week. I wound up feeling pretty pleased for the Ted Nugent simile.

Christmas Past
visits Mr. Irvin

Turret Sports Editor

Christmas season is here. You can tell because people have been standing in line outside Wal-Mart, trampling old ladies on their way to the sales.

Friday afternoon I was listening to the radio, and based on the hourly news reports it seemed like anarchy had broken out at department store franchises across the country. At one southern Circuit City, for example, police were called in for "crowd control."

Indeed, the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future will soon be here - although they might be a few hours late since they'll likely be stuck in traffic near the mall.

One of these ghosts - Past - managed to catch up with former Dallas wide receiver Michael Irvin this week. The retired player was pulled over doing 78 mph in a 60 mph zone, but was booked on a misdemeanor charge for possession of drug paraphernalia. Arresting officers found a marijuana pipe in a Versace sunglasses case in Irvin's car.

Bear with me now as I take you, gentle readers, down a rather convoluted rabbit hole. Irvin said the pipe (and the plastic baggies containing marijuana residue, which were also found in the sunglasses case) belonged to a friend of his who was battling drug addiction.

This friend apparently came over to the Irvins' place for Thanksgiving dinner, where the normal custom, it seems, is to pat down guests before letting them in for turkey. This search allegedly turned up the pipe and baggies, which subsequently found their way into Irvin's car.

Instead of, say, the trash.

After that, it just sort of slipped his mind to get rid of the pipe.

Okay, so maybe I'm being a little too Ebeneezer-like for the holiday season. It would certainly be in the spirit of Christmas to extend the benefit of the doubt to poor Irvin, right?

Unfortunately, Irvin doesn't exactly have a great track record to fall back on as far as drugs are concerned. He was arrested in 1996 and pled no contest to a felony cocaine possession charge, and again for drugs in 2000.

Besides, "benefit of the doubt" is leaving the vocabulary of sports fans faster than animal rights activists fleeing Ted Nugent's private property.

Rafael "Never, Ever, Ever Done Steroids" Palmeiro already left us a huge lump of coal this year after testing positive for the very substance about which he testified before Congress, essentially saying that he hadn't even heard of it.

I'm really not all that worked up about Irvin's drug possession charge. He's paid the fine and will go back to work. I just think it's hilarious that he came up with such a weird story to go along with it.

It's not as if he's helping to ruin America's pastime, unlike certain Viagra spokespersons I could name.

The happiest people to hear the news, though, must have assuredly been the good people at the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative in San Francisco. Yes, on hearing about Irvin's arrest, BALCO could finally cheer, saying, "Finally! A professional sports-related drug charge, and it doesn't involve us!"


UPDATE: Open Post at Mudville!

Monday, November 28, 2005


I've been tagged by Recon over at Monkeys For Helping. It seems there's a "meme" going around, and it's spreading like avian flu. Anyway, I'm to fill in the blanks on this little questionnaire, and maybe that way everyone can learn a little bit more about the not-so-mysterious entity called BroGonzo.

Before I get started, however, I thought I'd share a little bit of research I did on memes. The only word I could think of that could relate to "meme" originally was "mimeograph," an ancient machine used for making copies. This made a certain amount of sense to me, but as it turned out, memes and their study have a long history...

...which I won't bother repeating for you. If you're interested, check out the Wikipedia entry here.

On with the show.

Ten years ago:

I was 15, carefree, and hadn't a clue. I was spending a lot of time at home, since my parents made the rather incredible decision to home school all five of us (the chain was broken when my youngest brother, BroAnimal, hit high school and proved to be even more of a pain in the ass than Rizzo or I could ever have managed. He turned out okay, though).

The downside of this was that I didn't get out a whole lot, other than for church and scout-related activities. The upside was that I got a damn fine education, and around this time was reading Greek classics, starting with Homer's Illiad and Odyssey and moving right on up through Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato.

Five years ago:

I was attending university. One semester's worth of biology classes had cleansed me of any remaining desire to put in the time required for medical school, and I switched to journalism. I've never regretted that for a second.

One year ago:

I was probably sitting somewhere pretty near to where I am now, in the single soldiers' quarters on Fort Knox. I'd recently finished a year in Korea with the 2nd Infantry Division, and was learning the ropes of sportswriting. I'd started to feel my way around the idea of having a weekly column, and I was starting to like the gig quite a bit. I was one of seven soldiers in the Public Affairs Office.

Five Delicious* Things:


Orange juice (not from concentrate)


Pasta Carbonara

Philly Cheesesteaks

Five songs I know by heart:

"Hook," Blues Traveler

"We Didn't Start The Fire," Billy Joel

"Franco UnAmerican," NoFX

"Black," Pearl Jam

"Jump," House of Pain

Five things I would do with a lot of money:

Pay off the startling amount of debt I've accumulated from college, car, etc. No, that isn't fun, but it's something I'd do.

Book the next flight to Australia.

Acquire a pet monkey, which I would train to smoke and give high-fives. Also, during parties the monkey would wear a sombrero filled with tortilla chips and guacamole, which it would distribute to guests.

Hire a hit man to finally take care of Carrot Top. Maybe some other people, too.

Finance, design, and build an expansive timber-beam lodge someplace secluded, not unlike the place my family and I stayed near Lake Placid this fall.

Five things I would never wear:


A fedora.


This T-shirt.

Any piece of Baltimore Ravens gear.

Five Favorite TV shows:

The Sopranos.

Monday Night Football.


The Family Guy.


Five things I enjoy doing:


Watching movies.

Sipping bourbon and coke.



Five people I want to inflict this on:


Jan Korda.





*Recon changed the wording of this question, as he said he is declaring Blog Jihad on the word "yummy," which also appears on my List of Words One Must Never, Ever Use.


Uniform fun

The Army has officially (at least here at A Healthy Alternative to Work) entered the "Make Your Own Uniform" phase. This phase exists between the beginning of the issuance of the ACU ("Advanced Combat Uniform") and the wear-out date for the old BDU ("Battle-Dress Uniform"). It's a strange period, and it pretty much means that it's a crapshoot as to what exactly the next soldier you come across is going to be wearing.

Basic trainees began recieving the ACU on Oct. 10, or so says my new roommate, who recently graduated from AIT at Fort Leonard Wood. Drill sergeants here all wear the ACU. Some sections in Headquarters Company have the ACU, others don't. Most deploying units now recieve the ACU.

For the rest of us, there's no real telling when we'll wind up getting a set. For the uninitiated, there are some crucial differences, in addition to the new trousers and blouses:

1) No-shine, rough leather tan boots.

This seems to be the sticking point for most people. Some of the new guys streaming into the barracks who got to Basic too early to be issued ACUs have decided that their first order of business, once they've gotten their rooms set up, is to head out to U.S. Cavalry and buy new pairs of desert boots -- which normally go with the DCU ("Desert Combat Uniform," which you've no doubt seen in the news) and with the new ACU.

These they wear with their BDUs, which have, up till now, included a set of black, polish-until-your-finger-is-covered-in-indelible-black-Kiwi boots.

It looks pretty dumb. But more and more, soldiers here in the States are wearing the desert boots with the woodland-camo BDUs. I've heard different rumors as to what the "rule" is; apparently it was initially allowed for soldiers returning from deployments that required wearing the DCU, and now it seems anyone's allowed to wear the desert boots.

Plus, new guys love new uniform stuff, so they're snapping up ACU-patterned accessories at the Cav Store -- ACU caps, ACU CamelBaks, ACU backpacks, ACU gloves, etc., etc., etc.

Me, I'm the only soldier left working here at the paper, so no matter what version of the uniform I wear, I wind up feeling a little bit like the guy at the office who likes paintball way too much.

I suppose we could call this phase "uniform puberty," where it looks awkward and ugly and isn't quite sure of what to do with itself. Eventually, though, things will even out and the transition to uniform adulthood will be made. Then, we can go back to looking basically the same -- like, as they joke in other services, "expendable trees."


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Comics: It's time to retire some material

Since I downloaded iTunes, I've pretty much ignored my music collection and have turned instead to Internet radio. Included in the channel lists are several comedy stations, where they play entire sets from comedians of pretty much every stripe, from "You Might Be A Redneck" stuff from Jeff Foxworthy to live readings by David Sedaris.

I've started to notice why standup died in the last decade. There are themes that keep cropping up and jokes that just get told over and over.

For instance: There were a lot of black comics whose routines centered almost exclusively around the differences between blacks and whites. It was funny and edgy when Richard Pryor was doing it, but by the time it got around to Martin Lawrence, the premise was hack. That well is dry now, people -- come up with some new ideas.

Added at 7:20 p.m.: One of the most galling things here is when someone starts out for a call to stop racism, and then proceeds to ennumerate the reasons why we'll never get along. Thanks for the helpful information, jackass.

Probably half of the female comedians I've heard are lesbians. Please stop making jokes about the differences between lesbians and everyone else.

The rest of the female comics I've heard make jokes about the differences between men and women. Stop.

They're not the only ones -- a lot of male comedians talk about the differences between men and women, and it's still not funny. Worse, they almost always make the requisite butt-kissing remark about how "women are smarter than men." Quit it. That isn't true, and it's a transparent attempt to get cheap applause from the women in the audience. Cut the crap, I'm sick of it.

We only need one comic who uses the "Southern" shtick, and I submit that Ron White be the only one allowed to continue. Every time I hear someone say "Git-R-Done," I wish to myself that Larry The Cable Guy would drown in his bathtub. The "You might be a redneck" routine is played out, and besides, the rest of us have no problem spotting them without the help. Bill Engvall is almost an exact clone of Foxworthy, just sappier, and we don't need that either.

I have no problem with comedians who take a political bent, but only as long as its funny -- that's sort of important for comedy. Apart from violating the lesbian rule above, Margaret Cho's political rants aren't funny, just shrill. Come on: I'm listening to hear funny stuff. If I wanted hell-bent, uninformed activism, I'd be reading the comments at

More subjects that need to be left alone for the next 20 years: pornography, airline travel, masturbation, George Lopez' family, airline travel, your kids, the weather, and airline travel. All the funny jokes about these things have already been made. Look elsewhere.

Finally, don't finish up with some sentimental, poignant ending, unless you've got a joke to make it all sort of a wink and a nod. I don't need to leave inspired, full of hope, or with warm feelings about humanity. All I want out of a comic is a bunch of laughs from jokes I haven't heard before. I don't need a heart-warming story or a reason to live. Make me laugh, and then go away.


Saturday, November 26, 2005

At the game.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Carnival time!

Boy-howdy, I'm featured in the latest "Carnival of Comedy," over at Immature With No Conscience. I submitted the Extreme Golf column, and the carnival organizers seem to think I've got a point. Head on over and check out some of the other Entries of Hilarity.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Muhammad Ali Center opening

A couple photos I shot at the opening of the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville this past weekend. Above is a display of Ali's boxing career, left is the Champ with friend Kris Kristofferson.

To make America the greatest is my goal
So I beat the Russian, and I beat the Pole
And for the U.S.A. won the Medal of Gold.
Italians said, "You're greater than the Cassius of Old.
We like your name, we like your game,
So make Rome your home if you will."
I said I appreciate your kind hospitality
But the U.S.A. is my country still
'Cause they're waiting to welcome me in Louisville.

-- Cassius Clay, 1960
"How Cassius Took Rome"

Read the story here.

An opportunity knocks?

Yesterday, my first sergeant called me to his office at company headquarters to give me some news. Apparently, a tasking is coming down for two 46Qs (that's the Army's designation for soldiers whose occupational specialty is journalist -- i.e., me) to spend six months in "the desert."

Whether that means a deployment for me is as yet uncertain, and my feelings about the possibility are mixed. The idea of going to Iraq is at once terrifying and exciting, and my perspective on it is perhaps a little different than it might be if I was in a different Army career field.

The negatives are apparent at once: it means going to the warzone. I don't care what you may have heard from others -- anyone who says he "can't wait to go and fight" isn't telling you the whole truth. A man who claims to have no trepidation about going to a place where instant death lurks around every corner and in every pile of refuse on the highway needs to have his head examined.

But as one point in the entire spectrum of possibilities for the rest of my time in the Army, this particular deployment might be an incredible opportunity, and here's why.

First, the tasking is specifically for journalists. That means they're looking for someone to shoot pictures and write stories, not drive trucks or pull security (although those tasks will most likely figure into it at least in a tertiary way). The experience I'd undoubtedly get from being in theater and reporting on the war would definitely serve me well when it came time to show potential employers my resume.

Second, the tasking is for six months. There's a huge difference between six months and a year. I'd leave from Fort Knox, return to Fort Knox, then finish out my time (currently, that's about 20 months, minus leave).

Finally, when all of this is over and is left for the history book writers, I'll have felt better about my own little contribution for having gone. It's not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing with the war -- I'd just rather not remember my time in the Army as a prolonged period of hanging out "in the rear," safely at home in the United States.

At the same time, it feels as if I'd be catching the tail-end of the war. Soft, fat politicians are crowing on Capitol Hill about "exit strategies" and troop withdrawls. Will we be there long enough to be able to leave with any honor? Will we get a chance to leave Iraq a different and better place than when we found it?

I suppose that, in and of itself, is story enough to tell.

Note to relatives and friends: Please don't freak out yet. This is by no means certain yet, my first sergeant just let me know that the tasking is out there. I don't know how many other soldiers in the region are jockeying for or trying to avoid this assignment. I'll let you all know when I hear any more news on this.


UPDATE: Open Post at Mudville!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Fashion = What?

I look at the fashion industry in much the same way I do the stock market -- seemingly important things go on there, but how and why is a complete mystery.

I started this post for two reasons: one, I wanted to write the preceeding sentence; and two, I just read an article in the latest issue of GQ about how fedoras are "coming back."

The article, as all articles on fashion are, is accompanied by several photographs; in this case, they're used as evidence of the re-emergence of the fedora. There are photographs of: Pete Doherty in a fedora, Kid Rock in a fedora, Mos Def in a fedora, and Babe Ruth surrounded by reporters in fedoras. Smaller photos of three male models -- DKNY, Dsquared, and Givenchy -- also feature fedoras.

Seriously, I cannot remember the last time I saw anyone on a runway wearing anything that looked remotely acceptable for public use. Most of the time, models (male and female both) are decked out in get-ups that would be more appropriate for the Elton John backup dance team, especially if he were making a video set in, oh, I don't know, an alley on the moon in the year 3065.

And here's the thing -- celebrities like Mos Def and Kid Rock and Pete Doherty actually do pull off the fedora pretty well. But the problem is that Mos Def is a rapper, and rappers can wear anything they want and still basically look good (see Outkast for evidence of this -- in the video for "Hey Ya!" Andre wears lime-green pants and a huge Burger King crown and he's still cooler than anyone I know). Kid Rock still looks like a hillbilly, but this time he looks like a hillbilly who's rifled through his grand-daddy's crawl space and found and artifact from 1947, and Pete Doherty looks like he's in line to try out for Road to Perdition II.

In all fairness, the article does finally ask the essential question: "Should you be wearing one?" And, inexplicably, the answer seems to be yes: "Ultimately, it's like anything you wear -- as long as you wear it with confidence, it looks good."

That's a steaming pile of nonsense if I ever heard one. Back where I went to school, there was a weird kid who, very confidently, wore a chicken hat every day. This wasn't a baseball cap with a chicken printed on it, oh no. This was a hat made to look like a chicken. It had long chicken-like legs that dangled down on the sides, a tail of stuffed-animal feathers in back, and a sad, limp, chicken head that poked out from the front.

We made fun of that kid, and once, we stole his hat. We didn't see him outside again until we gave it back.

So even if Edward Chai, co-owner of a "stylish menswear store in New York's East Village" says "there's something very stylish about a fedora," don't go out and buy one. I love all the Indiana Jones movies (even Temple of Doom, which features what might be the absolute worst performance by an actress ever -- and that includes John Waters' Pink Flamingos), but I'm not going to let the fact that Harrison Ford looked incredibly cool in a leather fedora trick me into thinking that I would, too.

About halfway through writing this, I realized that I wear a black beret to work every day. Damn.


UPDATE: Open Post at Mudville!

Which team loses every time?

I went by the post hospital today to take pictures of the MEDDAC Thanksgiving ceremony and meal they held in the cafeteria. While I was obliviously snapping away, a gentleman sitting at a nearby table said, "Base newspaper?"

I ignored the fact that in the Army we have "posts," not "bases."

"Yes, sir..."

"You write for the sports section?"

"As a matter of fact, yes."

"I see your picture every week in the sports section..."

I get this comment every once in a while and have to suppress the urge to congratulate the speaker on his observational skills -- my picture, indeed, is on the first page of each week's sports section; it's not that I asked to have it put there, but S.O.P. for columns in our paper is to have a mugshot of the author run with them.

"Yeah, regrettably so," I shrugged, unsure of where this was going. The man seemed cheerful enough, though.

"You're biased!" he said, like it was the punchline of some weird joke that I didn't get.

I thought for a moment. Biased toward what? The Steelers? Well, yeah, but I try to be tongue-in-cheek about that. Against dance and cheerleading? Absolutely, I'll cop to that any day. I figured I'd best be straightforward and ask.

"Biased toward what?"

He tapped his finger on the table a couple times.

"Here," he said. "You know, 'Fort Knox dominated whoever.'"

This was strange. I'd never been chided for siding too much with Fort Knox. In fact, after one high school football road game this past season, a parent (who happened to also be a senior NCO) said that he'd had enough of the "negative headlines" in the paper, and that I wasn't doing anything to help the team out by printing that kind of language.

Again, I had to supress my initial reaction. It's not my job to help the team out, I thought. It's my job to let everyone know how they're doing when they go to places in BFE Kentucky where no one else wants to drive, and it's my job to write -- in at least an attempt to be interesting -- how it is they managed to have a record of, say, 0-9. Helping the team, I thought, is your job, oh protective parent. Maybe if Junior had more of a fire lit under his ass at home, he'd be more inspired to quit missing tackles.

But of course, I don't actually say those kinds of things. It might feel good in the heat of the moment, but in the long run it does no one any real benefit.

Back at the hospital cafeteria table, I was still stumped.

"Well, there was only the one game where they won," I said, referring to the high school's season-ender, which they won handily. "I had to be positive. Besides, the audience here doesn't tolerate anything less than a blatant bias toward 'our own.'"

The man said he was impressed that we came up with all our own material at the paper, said he worked at the hospital, and that his sister was a professional photographer, and I thanked him and left to take more photos of colonels distributing slices of turkey and roast beef to the long line of early Thanksgiving diners.


TRADOC picks up Wallace story

It's always nice to get your copy picked up by the wire services. The story I did on Gen. William Wallace, the new TRADOC commander, is now available on the TRADOC newswires.

That's gratifying, since it gives the story a little more exposure and may mean other Army newspapers pick it up to run in upcoming editions. We'll see.


Sunday, November 20, 2005

Possible column

Hey folks. It's been a crazy weekend, and I'm slightly fried. We're pushing the layout up a couple days to make time for the Thanksgiving holiday, and tomorrow, I've got to send a couple stories to press that don't exist yet.

So I came up with this as a possible column tonight after working for a while on the story on the opening of the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville. See what you think.

Extreme golf

Every once in a while, a complete stranger learns that I work as a sports writer, and sometimes they'll say, "Hey, I've got something you should write about."

These ideas are uniformly bad. Most of the time it's something barracks-related, like "write an article about how the gutter above my room leaks" or "do a story about how the guy who lives next door to me plays his music too loud" or, pretty often, "write something about me."

However, I was offered an outstanding idea while sitting at a restaurant Saturday afternoon, watching college football.

"I've got a great idea for you," the stranger said. "You know how it's incredibly boring to watch golf on television? I know how they can make it more interesting: make it a full-contact sport."

It was one of those moments where the conversation around you immediately ceases, and everyone looks. This, I thought, was a brilliant idea.

It's not that I have anything against golf. I don't golf, but I can see how it might be enjoyable to play. However, it is certainly not enjoyable to watch on television. They have bass fishing shows on TV, too, and that's completely beyond me. I mean, these are pretty pastoral activities -- they don't make for very riveting television. Fishing's only fun to watch if the guys are fishing for sharks.

But think of mixing the violence inherent to one of pro football's offensive lines with the relatively boring action of golf. Those teeing-off moments would be a lot more exciting, right?

"Tiger Woods is setting up to tee off on hole three here at Pebble Beach... Oohhh! And he's sacked! Thats a two-stroke penalty, and Tiger loses 20 yards."

Plus, golfers would have to come up with some more multi-layered strategies. Instead of just watching their opponents putt their way to par, they'd be running interference.

"Michelle Wie is on the green now, but she better watch out for the blitz here or she could get into serious trouble."

Provided you don't use the motorized carts, it's possible to get a good walk in during a full round of golf, right? But imagine playing in a full set of protective pads! Just making it to the 18th hole would be an athletic feat. Golfers would have to add a cross-training regimen to their slotted times at the driving range.

Also, the primary piece of equipment used in golf is called a "club." I think it's high time we started using it in a way commensurate with the name (has anyone else ever had the temptation to misuse croquet mallets, or is that just me?)

We certainly don't need to change golf. We'll leave the PGA alone. All these new rules could be incorporated into something like the abyssmally short-lived Extreme Football League. It would be the new, Road Warrior version of golf, and instead of a green blazer going to the winner, the Extreme Golf Association's highest award would be a beat-up leather bomber jacket studded with chrome metal spikes.

Purists will surely scoff at the idea of full-contact golf. But worse ideas have been successful and even made people fabulously wealthy -- aren't we on season 11 of Survivor?


UPDATE: Open Post at Mudville!

Friday, November 18, 2005

More friday.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A mortal enemy identified

Faithful readers, I have identified a mortal enemy. This is a person I cannot stand to be near, but somehow, tracks me down no matter where I've been in the Army, no matter what my living conditions have been.

This enemy is tenacious and tireless. He will not be dissuaded from his mission, which is to bug the shit out of me. He will not cease, surely, until either I or he is dead -- and defeating him is like cutting off one of the mythical hydra's heads: where one was, two more spring up to take its place.

This enemy is the private with the huge sound system.

I'm not sure where these guys get the money to buy speakers as huge as they do. But it never fails: a new guy moves into the barracks, straight out of training, and he pulls in with a pickup truck full of gigantic speaker cabinets.

I would completely understand if he was, say, a member of Rage Against the Machine or something. Then it would make sense. But it's not as if these dudes even have any musical taste to pump through their gigantic speakers. It's always genuine, certifiable shit they're blasting; usually Li'l John or Nickelback or Linkin Park or 50 Cent.

And they play it so loud that my walls shake (yes, they always live next door). In Korea, I could swear some days I lived next door to the practice studio for Run DMC and Stomp. This kid could shake the coins off the wooden sham that ran around the wall of my room.

Here, at least for a while, I lived in peace. But they're standing up a new battalion here, and the influx of brand new privates has brought with it an influx of brand-new Kenwood and Bose speaker systems, as well as multiple copies of the new Staind album, 50 Cent's latest offering, and, perhaps worst of all, more Linkin Park. They come into the barracks with the new arrivals like rats off a ship that's just reached the new world, ready to spread pestilence and disease across the virgin population.

Some Saturdays, I'll be lying in my bed, hungover from the night before, trying to hide from the light outside. But nothing I can do can protect me from the barrage of thumping bass beats that starts up when my next-door neighbor decides the community hasn't heard Li'l John scream "YEAH" for too long.

Look, all joking aside guys, it doesn't have to be that loud. It really doesn't. I love music -- loud bands like the Who and AC/DC and Rage Against the Machine and the Misfits and NOFX. But I don't need to make YOUR eardrums bleed in order to fully appreciate the experience of hearing "Stickin' In My Eye," okay? Turn it the hell down, you'll still be able to hear it, I promise.

Either that, or transfer to an artillery unit, where no one can hear a damn thing.


Monday, November 14, 2005

What I do with long weekends

Chalk up another solid win for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Hooray!

Anyway, for your entertainment and mine, I thought I'd do a running commentary on the movie I'm about to watch - Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. This should be heaps of campy fun.

12:00 a.m. - Opening Credits roll, and we find ourselves on a stormy night, in a car with two guys. One of them turns out to be Tommy Jarvis, who's killed the murderous Jason Vorhees twice before - once as a runty Corey Feldman (in Part IV, the "Final Chapter"). Now, Tommy needs to make sure Jason's body is destroyed so his hallucinations stop - I guess that means we forget about the "freaky" ending to the last movie, where Tommy sort of turns into Jason and stabs a lady. But let's not get too cerebral.

12:04 - They find Jason Voorhees' grave. Commence digging in thunderstorm, insert creepy shots of other graves. Why is it that people are able to dig perfectly square grave-shaped holes in 25 seconds in movies? Okay... they're prying open the coffin.

12:05 - A wormy corpse. Somehow, I'm surprised. So is Tommy. Ooooh - flashback time: we can hear the young Feldman slashing Jason to bits in Part IV.

12:06 - So he does it again to the corpse, using a pointy piece of graveyard fence.

12:07 - Uh oh. Lighting strikes! The corpse OPENS ITS EYES! Naturally, Tommy's already thrown in the signature hockey mask...

12:08 - JASON'S ALIVE! And he's green. Tommy's trying to dump gasoline on him... but the MATCHES WON'T LIGHT in the rain. That's why you should smoke, kids. You'd have a lighter on you in case of undead psychopath attack.

12:10 - What the hell. Craziest opening credits yet. Extreme closeup on Jason's eye... then in the pupil, he walks out, James Bond-style, and tosses a knife at the screen. By the way, the body count is up to 1. I suppose if you count Jason coming back to life as -1 on the body count, we're even, but let's not split hairs.

12:12 - Tommy's trying to explain the ugly situation to the sheriff. Naturally, the sheriff is skeptical, especially considering Tommy's psychological background. Tommy winds up in a cell.

12:13 - A couple in a car on their way to a camp. Quite the recurring theme here. Wow, they run into Jason right away. By the way, the two are in a Volkswagen Beetle, which I think has appeared in every single Jason movie so far.

12:15 - Jason pokes a hole in the left front tire. Billy Badass has a pistol. He fires, it doesn't work, and has the windshield painted with his blood. Whoops. That's 2.

12:16 - The chick offers Jason money as he stands over her with a bloody spear. He doesn't accept. Body count is up to 3, an American Express card is floating in the ditch.

12:17 - Loathsome teenager alert! The blonde appeared in the last Jason outing, as a diner waitress who wound up getting sliced.

12:19 - Grumpy old man alert! He's the cemetery caretaker. I think he'll probably live for.... another six minutes. Meanwhile, the loathsome teenagers are getting settled into their new campground. Here's where the movies typically slow down.

12:20 - Blondie: "Just because our parents keep telling us Jason was only a legend doesn't mean it isn't true." Oooooh - a busload of kids shows up! Jason's notoriously bad at killing kids, even if they're Corey Feldman.

12:22 - Paint ball freaks in the woods. Jason is hiding nearby. Awww, they get shot by a chick. By the way, paint ball players who get shot have to wear "Dead" headbands... one such guy runs into Jason. Jason shoves him into a tree with an inconveniently-placed stick in the trunk. The "Dead" guy slides off, leaving a smiley face in blood. I guess they aren't taking themselves as seriously this time around. Body count: 4.

12:25 - Yes, the paintballers are definitely here for comic relief. Jason kills three in one swipe. That makes 7. The last paintballer shoots Jason in the chest. It doesn't work.

12:27 - Tommy's leading the sheriff to the cemetery. The sheriff isn't amused. The deputy pulls out a revolver with a ridiculously huge Tango and Cash laser scope on it. Old timer: "Does he think I'm a fart-head?" Cut to kids screaming: "Yeah!!!!"

12:31 - I think the sheriff is the guy who eventually played J. Jonah Jameson in the new "Spiderman."

12:33 - Old Timer's drunk again. He's toast. Jason gets him with his own broken whiskey bottle. 8. The rich couple making out hears the scream, the guy spots Jason, and the two take off.... not fast enough. 10.

12:34 - One of the sleeping campers was reading "No Exit" by John Paul Sartre. Huh.

12:35 - Hm, the female counselors are discussing a "Camp Blood" card game. I have a better idea: do a shot every time something retarded happens in a Friday the 13th movie. I'd be pretty drunk already.

12:37 - Rampant sex going between mullet guy and the brunette to awful '80s music. They're shaking up an RV. They are going to die very, very soon. Yup... Jason cuts the power to the camper. "Cort" (a.k.a Mullet Guy) has to go outside to plug it back in. For some reason, he's already sneaking around. Only WE know Jason's about, right?

12:40 - Cheap scare - the chick comes out and spooks Mullet Guy. "Vikki, somebody's out there."

12:42 - Jason drags Vikki into the RV bathroom without being remotely scary. He shoves her face into the wall, making an impression on the outside. 11? Mullet Guy is stabbed through the head. 12. They were listening to "Teenage Frankenstein," which I guess is by Alice Cooper.

12:44 - "I've found what's left of those counselors, and it looks like someone did them in using Jason's old M.O.!" Blondie is left alone in the sheriff's office.

12:45 - We're being treated to lots of shots of the Undead Jason strolling through the woods.

12:47 - Jason's found the old campground. He ambles in. Meanwhile, the deputy has found chunks of paintballers.

12:51 - Jason grabs a counselor. She's dispatched by having her head sort of twisted off. Hey - blondie has a nice '77 Camaro. She also drives better with our hero's head buried in her crotch. "This is going to be a hairy turn... hold on." Yes, you can groan now. They wind up at the camp, where Jason is currently busy making counselor dim-sum.

12:55 - Little Susan has found a bloody machete outside. She saw a monster.

12:59 - *CRUNCH* Is it Jason? We have a female counselor on her own... ah, but she runs away, back to her cabin. The phone doesn't work, there's blood on the floor. And now, the extra creepy music kicks in. Jason hacks her up. Is that 13, now?

1:05 - Tommy is free from the jail cell! I don't think I can do this much longer.

1:10 - Screw it, I'm done. This is just awful. Too many brain cells have died for me to continue writing while watching this. I'll need to eat a lot of fish and vegetables tomorrow to regrow my brain stem.


UPDATE: Open Post at Mudville!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

New TRADOC commander says future of Armor is bright

Here's the story I did after the interview with TRADOC's new top-dog, Gen. William Wallace. For the record, the general said the word "hell" at one point during the interview, but I was not allowed to include it in the final story.

Wallace, new TRADOC commander,
an armor officer who wanted to fly

By SPC. IAN BOUDREAU/Turret staff writer

For Gen. William Wallace, who recently assumed command of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command, coming to Fort Knox last week to officiate the retirement ceremony of former Chief of Armor Maj. Gen. Terry Tucker was a homecoming of sorts.

Wallace, who assumed command of TRADOC Oct. 13, graduated from Louisville's Eastern High School in 1965, and subsequently attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

Wallace's 36-year Army career has brought him back to Fort Knox several times -- for the Armor Officer Basic and Advanced courses, and also for an assignment as a major at the former Directorate of Combat Development, Studies Division, in 1978.

Since then, Wallace said, he's seen Fort Knox improve in many ways.

"The most dramatic change has been in the quality of training," he said. "Boudinot Hall and Gaffey Hall -- the buildings haven't changed a lot, but what's inside of them has."

Married with two children, Wallace met his wife, the former Sharon Corbin, during ninth grade at Eastern, he said. Their daughter, Tara, 30, lives in southern California with her three children, while their son, Todd, 27, lives in New Orleans.

Wallace said his wife's family still lives in the Louisville area.

"I'm a University of Louisville fan and I'm a University of Kentucky fan, which I know is hard to be," he said. "I sort of root for Louisville during the football season and Kentucky during the basketball season. I go with whoever has a chance to win.

"But when Louisville and Kentucky play every year in December, I always root for Louisville," he added. "Not because I'm for Louisville all that much, but because my mother-in-law is such a dyed-in-the-wool Kentucky fan that I like to get under her skin."

Wallace began his career as an armor officer for what some might think is a surprising motive: he wanted to fly helicopters.

"Back in '69, when I was commissioned, there was no aviation branch," he said. "It seemed to me that armor and aviation sort of went together.

"Then I subsequently flunked out of flight school, went to Vietnam, and became an Armor adviser in an infantry unit. So I guess I've done okay for a flight school dropout."

Wallace said he's excited about his new role as commander of TRADOC.

"I'm excited," he said, "I'm kind of apprehensive about the job. I keep looking at myself in the mirror every morning wondering who it is with the four stars on his shoulders looking back. I hope I never outgrow that feeling."

There will be challenges, to be sure, he said, including working with the command's budget and dealing with personnel issues, plus dealing with the ongoing war on terrorism.

"I think regardless of where you are in TRADOC, whether you're at Fort Knox or Fort Benning or Fort Sill," he said, "you've got a major role to play in that war. The fact of the matter is that victory starts in TRADOC. Victory starts at Fort Knox and Fort Benning and Fort Sill; it's where the foundation of our Army is built.

"We have an obligation to make that foundation as firm and solid as we can for the fight that we're currently in, but we also have to be concerned about the victory that we're going to fight and win five and 10 and 12 years from now.

"That's what the nation expects from us, and that's what we owe to the nation," he said.

For the Armor Branch, Wallace said the future is bright.

"There's a lot of hand-wringing, a lot of rock-kicking going on," he said. "But there's a place for heavy forces, there's a place for medium-weight forces, and there's a place for light forces. We've got to strike the right balance.

"The fact of the matter is, the spirit of armor, the spirit of cavalry is going to be with us forever. It's a legacy that we've got to carry forward -- there's a heritage there, regardless of what our formations look like."

Wallace will work at TRADOC headquarters, located at Fort Monroe, Va.


Open Post at the Mudville Gazette.
Here's another shot at a Mudville Gazette Open Post.

Happy birthday, USMC.

Happy 230th birthday to the Marine Corps, you bunch of filthy animals.

BRAC brevity

By the way: the recommendations made by the Base Realignment and Closure commission, which were signed by the president, became law yesterday, as Congress' 45-day window to take yes or no action on the measures expired.

No surprises there. But one thing I didn't realize about that was that Fort Knox will relinquish the title of "Home of Armor" in exchange for a new, Brave New World-esque moniker:

The Center for Personnel Excellence.



Time for photoblogging

Since I still can't think of anything to write about, I guess I'll post a couple photos.

This is me on top of Cascade Mountain, near Lake Placid, New York. My family and I climbed up there while I went on leave a little while ago. The wind was very strong at the summit, which is why my clothing was inflated. Note Steelers cap attached to belt loop.

Another shot from the summit of Cascade. That's me and my little sister, plus two old people.

A salute battery was fired by the 16th Cavalry Regiment for Maj. Gen. Terry Tucker's retirement ceremony. Don't stand in front of these.


The muse has not been around

Right, so I've continued to be a rotten blogger, and it's because I've been singularly uninspired as of late.

My old pal-cum-sergeant Josh is over in the desert and is feeling a bit frustrated with what could be a case of unit combat-envy. Check his post out.

I've basically been chugging along, doing the usual thing. My trip home for my sister's confirmation was great, albeit brief. In Saturday morning, back here at Knox by Monday night. The good news is I'll be heading home for a good spell over the holidays.

Another reading recommendation -- I just finished this myself -- is this Commentary article by Norman Podhoretz, "Who is Lying About Iraq?" In this well-referenced article, Podhoretz makes the case that it is actually retired ambassador Joseph Wilson.

That's it for me, at least for now. It's time for coffee and cigarettes.


Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Future

It's 12:10 a.m. on a Saturday morning, which is the Witching Hour for single soldiers here in the barracks... weird shit is going on all around my room, and it's all soaked heavily in alcohol -- the preferred brands being Coors Light and Bacardi.

I have less than two years of service left, and later this morning, I'll be getting on a plane headed for home. Sunday, I'm to stand behind my sister as her sponsor as she's confirmed in the Catholic church.

Earlier today, I photographed the retirement ceremony of Maj. Gen. Terry Tucker, the former chief of armor for the U.S. Army, and later on I interviewed Gen. William Wallace, the new commander of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command.

Afterward, I read the latest Post -30-, and I discovered that I've been honored with an Army Journalist award. I don't really know why, specifically. I hope what I'm doing now is worth their while.

It's weird to look at what I'm doing right now and think of it in terms of what it'll mean for my future. I've got my strange little weekly sports column, which I suppose I've grown into, at least to some extent. I've got my beat, the local sports angle, and that's constantly being attacked by the need to cover stories for the A section.

I think back, sometimes, to specific moments in basic training, like when we were learning how to communicate over a military radio somewhere in rural Georgia or rappelling off a wooden tower, seated in harnesses we'd tied ourselves. Back then, there's no way I could have ever conceived of being here, now, doing what I'm doing.

And maybe once I'm out, doing whatever I'm doing then, I'll have a similar sense of cognitive dissonance of the difference between where I'm currently at and where I came from.

I don't know where I'm headed, as far as my Career [sic] is concerned. I guess the learning's in the journey.


Friday, November 04, 2005

Football's been a great beat

Here's the weekly sports column.

Football has been a great beat

By SPC. IAN BOUDREAU/Turret Sports Editor

"Could you tell me how to get to the high school, sir?"

I was in a hole-in-the-wall gas station somewhere deep in Green County when I asked the attendant, who was dressed in blue denim bib-overalls, for directions.

He answered in as thick a country accent as I'd ever heard.

"Aw, yah jus' heayad dayawn to tha first laght," he drawled cheerfully. "Thayan take a leyaft. It's abaht a mahle or so dayawn the road."

I pulled into the Green County High School parking lot just in time to see the opening kickoff. It was a cool evening, and spectators and family members were milling around the backside of the stands, eating free chili from a stand set up by some boosters and watching their breath steam up the air.

I edged my way onto the field, scooting a plastic barricade aside. Both cheerleading squads were lined up in front of the home stands, and the Green County Dragons on the sidelines were yelling at their other players on the field.

The Eagles were driving hard, and I watched from the sidelines from behind my camera as they took early control of the game. By the end of the first quarter, Dezmond Larkins had run in a 33-yard touchdown, the team had picked off one interception, and had pushed all the way to a first and goal on the Dragons' three-yard line.

It was impossible not to get excited for Fort Knox that night. I'm not supposed to have any team loyalties or affiliations when I'm attending a game in an "official capacity," but there were several reasons to get worked up last Thursday.

It was the final game of an up-to-then winless season, and the Eagles were looking good. They were pulling off plays they had known how to do nearly all year. They were using their strengths on the ground. The defense was stopping most of what the Dragons were throwing at them.

Also, it was potentially the last Fort Knox Eagles game I'd ever cover. Six months ago, I didn't think I'd be here long enough to see the end of another football season; yet, here I was. Odds are, by the time another summer has come and gone, I’ll be stationed somewhere else.

By the second half, the Dragons were coming apart, and from the sidelines I could hear grumblings about late hits and vicious personal fouls. Knox didn't play into the Dragons' hands, though, and as the clock ran down the mood on the visitors' side of the field became ever more buoyant.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Troy Meno found senior Lateef Frye and connected. Frye charged up the field for a 78-yard touchdown run. The crowd of Eagles fans and family who had made the trek to Green County roared.

And when the final buzzer did sound, Knox had won decisively, 48-19.

On the drive home, I wondered when the next time I'd get to cover a football game would be. Would it be here? Another duty station? Maybe for a civilian newspaper years from now? I guess there's no way to tell for sure.

I don't know when I'll get to cover another football game, but the time I've spent watching the Fort Knox Eagles has been an education, as well as a lot of fun.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A new judge to fight over

After Harriet Meirs' withdrawl of her supreme court nomination, President Bush has nominated appellate judge Samuel Alito Jr. for the position. Conservatives seem thrilled, and one thing at least can be said for Alito: he's got plenty of judicial history for politicians to fight over.

I'd love to get smart about this issue. But you really have to choose your battles, you know? It's all I can do to keep on top of the latest in pro sports and (to a lesser extent) the local high school. Now I'm seeing bloggers from across the spectrum digging up useful factoids on Alito as if he were some obscure Major League Baseball player who'd suddenly reappeared in the game after a two-year injury recovery period.

But my first impressions of Alito are pretty positive. He's exactly the opposite of all the things Meirs was criticized for: he's experienced as a judge, and he hasn't sent the president any birthday cards saying "OHMIGOD!!!11!!!! U R TEH ROCXS!!!1!!"

My NFL fantasy team lost by 10 points last night, but that's okay, because the Steelers pulled out the win. To be honest, I had thought Pittsburgh would wallop the visiting Baltimore Ravens without so much as breaking a sweat. I was wrong, however -- and it really goes to show how division rivalries will really make a team like Baltimore fight like a cornered rabid dog with three legs.

And the Dumbass Public Speaking award of the week goes to New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin, who had this to say during a meeting with city business leaders:

How do I ensure that New Orleans is not overrun by Mexican workers?

The response, reportedly, was applause. Thanks to Finch for pointing this one out.

Look, I'm no huge fan of illegal immigration. You know why? Because it's illegal. But I'm pretty sure I know enough about the relationship between politics and the media to make the assertion that Nagin was incredibly inept to have let those words escape his mouth.

When it comes to New Orleans, insanity seems to be the order of the day. Many of you will remember the esteemed Louis Farrakhan, leader of America's Nation of Islam, and his theory on why the levees broke:

"I heard from a reliable source who saw a 25-foot-deep crater under the levee breach," Farrakhan said. "It may have been blown up to destroy the black part of town and keep the white part dry." [Link]

Kanye West weighed in with a bon mot about George Bush not caring about black people.

The news is too insane to follow any more. There's this avian flu "pandemic" on its way, right? That's the new word: pandemic. You know, like an "epidemic," but with global and apocalyptic overtones. My prediction is that bird flu coverage will exponentially increase as they run out of hurricanes to name with Greek letters.


Monday, October 31, 2005

Press passes to Muhammed Ali Center grand opening?

Louisville will be opening the doors to the new Muhammed Ali Center in a "gala event" scheduled over Nov. 18-19. I've applied for press credentials, and if I get them, I'll be able to rub elbows with celebrity guests including Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, Angelina Jolie, and B.B. King.

I've also got passes to the Nov. 26 Syracuse at University of Louisville NCAA football game. That's always a hoot, even if the visiting teams have generally been vastly out-matched by U of L's squad. Last year, the Cardinals walloped the visiting Cincinnati Bearcats 70-7. By the third quarter, the stands of Papa John's Cardinals Stadium had pretty much been vacated, and Louisville had their third- and fourth-string offense out on the field.

I was comfortably esconsed high above the rotten weather in the plush press-box, sitting behind a window over the 50-yard line, sipping coffee and licking mashed potatoes and gravy off of plastic flatware while girls in red Cardinals polo shirts handed out up-to-the-minute game stats. There was pretty much nothing for me to do or write down.

Ahh. The life of a sports writer is tough, huh?


Friday, October 28, 2005

Attention, passengers.... weekend ahead.

Notes from last night's football game

Last night I drove to Greensburg, Kentucky, to watch the final game of the season for the Fort Knox Eagles high school football team. To give you an idea of how I keep notes, here's what I wrote over the course of the game.

Knox @ Green County

Last football game of the season... some teams will advance to the ditrict & regional playoffs, but not the hapless Fort Knox Eagles. Winless up through tonight, Fort Knox has suffered from a distinct lack of experience.

Scoring - Dezmond Larkins 1st Q
Extra point blocked 6-0

1 INT caught by F.K., 1st Quarter

Eagles made it to 1st & Goal on the 3 yd line by the end of the Quarter.

Larkins runs in for 12-0
2-point conversion Good, 14-0

Green County scores at 5:34, 14-6
Illegal procedure on PAT, -5 yds
PAT Good, ------------> 14-7

Knox is having trouble stopping QB Keeper

Both teams are keeping the ball on the ground; stats should reflect that. D. Larkins

FK scores, 3:23, 2nd Q
PAT good, 21-7

Sack! Fort Knox sacks GC QB, 0:18.2 left in Q

At the half: F.K. 21, G.C. 7

2nd Half

X. Bacon 1-yd Run for TD -- PAT good, 28-7

3rd Q.

3:33 G.C. Scores, PAT Missed, 28-13

Kick returned to the 50, 1st & 10

Meno - Lots of passing! Larkins -- 200 yds? <-- Close, anyway. GET STAT

1:58 - Meno pass complete to X. Bacon,
PAT Good, 35-13

Troy Meno - Sacks

End of 3rd: 35-13

Who's Hot Tonight:

Dezmond Larkins
Troy Meno
Xavier Bacon

-- Good Stuff: 2 Point Conversion. Loads of sacks. INT

Meno pass to Frye complete for a 78-yard touch down! <--- 1st play of the
4th Quarter
Ryan Ogden PAT good, 42-13

Strange to watch a team that had faltered on the turn of a dime against much larger (physically & numerically) suddenly pull everything together and execute...

Dragons are resorting to Raiders tactics -- 2
personal fouls on the kick return, 15 yd. penalty.

My editor told me today that Green Co. has always played dirty... and if I were from here, I probably would, too... This place is like Plato's Ideal Form of Redneckville.

Another 10-yard penalty against the Dragons. I've got to ask the coach what specifically these fouls were called for.

X. Bacon sacks GC QB Edwards. <--- Double Check

Another stop in the backfield, and a penalty against the Dragons.

Illegal Block, 10 yd penalty, declined by the Eagles, 3rd with 20 to go.

Pass is complete, but the reciever's stopped before he can make it to the original line of scrimmage.

4th & long, they go for it, pass incomplete.

FK takes over on downs.

Another 1st down for Larkins. <-- Idol could be Jerome Bettis?

4th & 2 for the Eagles...
play conservatively? NO!

Pitch to Larkins, who picks up another 1st Down with a 6-7 yd gain!

Illegal procedure vs. Eagles. 1/15

Smart coaching runs down the clock now, keeping the ball on the ground...

Which means, of course, that Meno passes just as I finished writing that.

---> Two in a row intended for Gavin Moore. No good, 4th & 16.

Holy shit. Gavin Moore runs the ball for at least 20 yards.

--> Unsportsmanlike conduct vs. the Dragons.
1/2 distance to the goal. 1st & Goal, 4 yds to go.

Touchdown, Eagles. Moore with the 1 yd. carry.

PAT Blocked! Still -- it's 48-13. Who cares? For the first time this year, Knox logs a win.

4:05 left to go.


Green County would go on to score one more touchdown and fail on an attempt for two extra points. I made it home around 11:30.