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.