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August 22, 2007
The Boo Radleys (VII)By Greyhawk
The line began to form a sharper, single-file form - they were within steps of passing through the outer blast wall, a series of grey concrete monoliths standing sentry side by side and stretching as far as the eye could see. He glanced upward, half expecting to see the words Arbeit macht frei somewhere above, but saw only a security camera mounted above the gate. Shifting his gaze downward he noted a high resolution display of the video feed from that very camera on a flat-panel screen mounted on the wall. "Smile!" Read the single, large-font word painted in the concrete above it, but few on screen were. He saw himself in the crowd, and behind him a vision he'd have been spared in a less secure world - the retired schoolteacher shivering with excitement - perhaps ecstasy would be the better term.
"Young Tom tells me you live not far from here" she gushed, "so perhaps this is nothing special for you. But for me this is a moment I've dreamt of for years. I've done the virtual tours, of course, but now I know how the Muslims must feel on the culmination of the Hajj!"
He was spared the construction of some mechanical and inoffensive response to this emotional outpouring by a third party - a somewhat younger woman immediately behind the first. "I was just thinking the same thing!" She cried, as though thinking was an act unique among a rare few mortals and cause for an instant bond when two similarly gifted individuals should cross paths.
He successfully blocked out the ensuing chatter amidst the noise of the crowd. The line had temporarily halted for reasons he could not determine, even when he checked the feed on the video screen. Some minor commotion was ongoing just a few feet ahead at the gate, though the noise of the crowd was growing.
Two security guards moved quickly from somewhere behind him towards the gate. As they passed the crowd quieted, which enabled him to hear the too-loud whisper from the retired teacher behind him intended only for the ears of her new found confidant. "I said he's a veteran..."
The novel [To Kill a Mockingbird] is semi-autobiographical, and Scout is based on the author herself, Harper Lee.. the character of Dill is purportedly based on the author's childhood friend and neighbor Truman Capote....who, when he grew up and became a famous writer himself, once quipped (regarding the works of Jack Kerouac):
"[That] isn't writing at all -- it's typing"
More entertainment news:
Carolyn Cassady knows "On the Road's" back-story more intimately than any living person can claim.He was a veteran...
Kerouac joined the United States Merchant Marine in 1942 and in 1943 joined the United States Navy, but was discharged during World War II on psychiatric grounds (he was of "indifferent disposition")....his life was fiction, and now he is dead:
He died on October 21, 1969 at St. Anthony's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, one day after being rushed with severe abdominal pain from his St. Petersburg home by ambulance. His death, at the age of 47, resulted from an internal hemorrhage (bleeding esophageal varices) caused by cirrhosis of the liver, the result of a lifetime of heavy drinking.That won't make the movie.
Neither will this.
On Saturday, February 3, 1968 Cassady attended a wedding party in San Miguel de Allende. After the party he went walking by railroad track to reach the next town, but passed out in the cold and rainy night wearing nothing but a T-shirt and jeans. In the morning he was found in a coma by the track and brought to the closest hospital, where he died a few hours later of exposure, compounded by years of drug and alcohol abuse. He was five days short of his forty-second birthday.And even if it doesn't make a penny,it will be "critically acclaimed".
GI Joe is a real American hero -- and that might be a bit of problem for both Paramount Pictures and Hasbro. <...> But Mr. Goldner said Hasbro is sensitive to the current world climate. "We'll weigh our options. Clearly we do a lot of work on consumer insight."
Flashback, November, 2005:
Outraged by the anti-war bias of the U.S. media, Hollywood star Bruce Willis is planning to produce a new film that tells the story of the bravery of U.S. combat troops in Iraq and their success in liberating the Iraqi people."Bruce Willis comes out fighting for Iraq’s forgotten GI heroes" the Times' headline read. But somehow that plan was, uhhhh, forgotten.
Perhaps in favor of Lethal Rush Hour 4, Rise of the Silver Die Hard or whatever the hell that thing was...
But perhaps this will share theaters with Kerouac in 2009:
The Last Full MeasureOr perhaps not.
[A1C] Pitsenbarger was 21 years old. He had been in Vietnam for eight months.Read the rest here.
One last bit of entertainment news:
Encouraged by widespread opposition to the conflict in Iraq, Hollywood filmmakers are preparing to unleash an unprecedented wave of war films on moviegoers. In a notable break with the past — when antiwar films were released several years after the conflict in question — a whole new genre has been created even while American troops remain on the front lines of the war on terror.Like Jake Barnes, and The Boo Radleys...
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. Shame on the man of cultivated taste who permits refinement to develop into fastidiousness that unfits him for doing the rough work of a workaday world. Among the free peoples who govern themselves there is but a small field of usefulness open for the men of cloistered life who shrink from contact with their fellows. Still less room is there for those who deride of slight what is done by those who actually bear the brunt of the day; nor yet for those others who always profess that they would like to take action, if only the conditions of life were not exactly what they actually are. The man who does nothing cuts the same sordid figure in the pages of history, whether he be a cynic, or fop, or voluptuary. There is little use for the being whose tepid soul knows nothing of great and generous emotion, of the high pride, the stern belief, the lofty enthusiasm, of the men who quell the storm and ride the thunder. Well for these men if they succeed; well also, though not so well, if they fail, given only that they have nobly ventured, and have put forth all their heart and strength. It is war-worn Hotspur, spent with hard fighting, he of the many errors and valiant end, over whose memory we love to linger, not over the memory of the young lord who "but for the vile guns would have been a valiant soldier."
"...you would most certainly believe this must have happened by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime – Pol Pot or others – that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans..."
"Young Tom told me." The older explained. He was vaguely aware of a bit of yelling from the front of the line, and used it as an excuse to return his gaze forward. The line began moving again. He held fast to a belief that once through the gates the two behind him would go on about their merry way, and he'd never see them again.
The crowd remained reverently quiet approaching the gate, so he heard their continued conversation even though held in hushed tones.
"You know, it's likely he signed the New Oath of Allegiance."
"Well of course..."
"There's a copy of the original document inside."
"Did you get his name? Maybe we could get a picture of him contemplating the oath."
"You could do a story documenting his entire visit. I think it would be a marvelous focus."
"Do you think he'd mind? I mean, I could still get some great quotes from you - but this could be a real human interest angle..."
"Did you know he's brought the children as part of his obligatory community service."
"That's wonderful - I could write a feature on what he learns by seeing things through their tear-filled eyes!"
While this was going on he'd reached the gate, taken care to document his admission, and passed through the turnstiles. Taking one child by each hand, he moved quickly into the now expanding crowd.
Next: Wearing the Black Flag
Posted by Greyhawk / August 22, 2007 11:15 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
I like having visitors to my house. I hope you are entertained. I fight for your right to free speech, and am thrilled when you exercise said rights here. Comments and e-mails are welcome, but all such communication is to be assumed to be 1)the original work of any who initiate said communication and 2)the property of the Mudville Gazette, with free use granted thereto for publication in electronic or written form. If you do NOT wish to have your message posted, write "CONFIDENTIAL" in the subject line of your email.
Original content copyright © 2003 - 2011 by Greyhawk. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com