Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hail, Hail Estonia!

Officially, it is now my second favorite national anthem ever. And that includes all time.

h/t: Kimmomurmu

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Grey Review Up at F.O.G.

This film really captivated me except for some funny business with the wolves.

A plane crash, injured men, a blustery storm, a ticking clock, and big wolves.

This film had everything I enjoy in a movie.

To be honest, I often wish these elements were in every movie including The Artist but that’s just stubborn selfishness on my part.

Read oh so much more here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

'Nam a Tough Sell for Author Nolan

There was a time when I burned through military history books by the gross. I read famous authors like Band of Brothers' Stephen Ambrose and not-so-famous guys like Keith William Nolan. My history book reading has fallen off lately and so I just learned Nolan died three years ago from cancer. His specialty was the Vietnam War and his works relied heavily on interviews with American veterans who fought there.

Ten years ago, I had vague plans of producing a film based on Nolan's book about Operation Buffalo, which centered around the ambush of a Marine company in 1967. As I was returning to Cambodia for a project with State Dept./USAID and Warner Bros.—a story in itself—I made plans to visit the battlefields in neighboring Vietnam.

And so I contacted Keith William Nolan and asked for an option to develop a project based around his 1991 book Operation Buffalo: USMC Fight for the DMZ. I mentioned I was a former Marine who had served during the Vietnam era.

He let me have the option free.

That is simply not done in these parts.

By email, I thanked him for his generosity. In time, I toured the landscape of Operation Buffalo, a dangerous patch of ground still peppered with Viet Cong mines and booby traps as well as unexploded American and North Vietnamese artillery shells. I walked the narrow, red dirt lanes on which B Company was ambushed in an action that grew into the bloodiest day for the Marines in Vietnam.

I drew a crowd of Vietnamese, hardly any who had lived there back in the day. (Most had been relocated in 1966, the year prior to the fight.) At one point, I was invited into a hut and asked to tell a few elders what I knew of the event. With kids and dogs yelling outside, I spoke in bursts of English which my interpreter translated into Vietnamese, explaining how a battalion of North Vietnamese lured an understrength Marine company into an trap that wiped out two platoons and shot to pieces a second company that came to help. Some enemy units dressed in captured Marine uniforms to move in close and backed their assault with flamethrowers and heavy artillery—based in nearby North Vietnam.

We drank tea and smoked cigarettes as the sky grew darker outside. Reciting Nolan's book from memory as best I could, I told how the Marines returned the next day to retrieve the bodies of their dead and that turned into another fight. More reinforcements poured in on both sides, culminating in a massive North Vietnamese attack preceded by an artillery barrage. The Marines cut down the charging troops, sealed off breaches in their lines and held. The enemy withdraw back to safety in North Vietnam. Marine patrols from the hill base at Con Thien set out once more to sweep the area and the pattern of Operation Buffalo would be repeated in minor and major keys for the next several years.

Outside the kids gathered around as I reemerged from the hut. There was a huge freaking spider the size of a catcher's mitt hanging in a web attached to a nearby pole. I refused to look at the monster for fear the kids would knock the hulking arachnid down with a stick and chase it toward me to see what the tall foreigner would do.

I came home and the option expired and my movie idea eventually migrated into a rather large folder of unfinished products. Nolan wrote ten books on the Vietnam War, but never made a pile of money. His publisher wanted him to write about "popular wars" because Vietnam didn't sell. But Nolan felt he had an obligation to veterans who were treated quite shabbily. He felt someone had to tell their story.

He stayed true to that calling.

A non-smoker, 44-year-old Keith William Nolan died of lung cancer. He left behind a little girl.

Nolan's books are more than just the story of battles, interesting to history buffs like myself. They are our heritage, our nation's story, told by those present, their deeds preserved for kids like Anna Britt Nolan.

One hot August night, I was at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Little gifts, flowers and tokens are often left at its base by families, friends, and old comrades come to visit the names of the dead. Apparently a grade school class had passed through earlier and left various letters on lined paper in huge kid scrawl. One in part read: "Dear Grandpa, We saw the Vietnam Wall. I'm sorry you could not tell your stories."

Keith William Nolan could.

(And while many of us are short of money, I'm including trust fund info for Nolan's daughter. If you can, please donate.)

Anna Britt Nolan Trust
c/o First Bank
6211 Midriver Mall Drive
St. Charles, MO 63304

Images: Two-Seven Tooter

Friday, January 20, 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Haywire Review Up at F.O.G.

Have I come down too hard on suspense-musicals?

Sadly, this cross between The Bourne Identity and Funny Lady misses the mark on two fronts.

A meat and potatoes plot was stretched into disturbing shapes by this attempt to shoehorn show tunes into places they were never meant for.

At first, Haywire was reassuringly familiar—hot-chick Mallory Kane (Gina Carano), black ops specialist for Uncle Sam, speeds into harm’s way on her latest mission.

Read more at this link before you.

Laurel and Hardy and Michael Jackson

Laurel and Hardy anticipate the '80s in this clip from Way Out West.

h/t: aceface1969

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Gutless Huntsman Betrays Me!

Like most politicians, Huntsman is completely self-centered, thinking only of what's best for himself and not me. The Huntsman was summoned. The Horn of Urgency sounded. And old Jon bailed. He couldn't even hang on until the convention in August; make a scrap out of it; draw coverage for tenacity; inspire Rachel Maddow to play version after version of the Huntsman theme song. Bahh! Go back to Shanghai!
h/t: Hot Air
Image: LA Times

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Albatross Review Up at F.O.G.

Learn why bees are a good addition to any family drama.

Paul Rugg's Pre-Fab Man Cave

A work in progress but progressing nonetheless. There is electricity, a European-looking device for dispensing heat and coolness that operates via handheld remote, plus a loft and paint-splotched walls. In addition there are exposed wires for a future ceiling fan.

We're I a true 21st century blogger I would accompany this article with cell phone photos but I defiantly haven't. Perhaps soon.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Lady Gaga and Mayor Bloomberg Meet the Animaniacs

On ABC last night, I watched these two oddly-paired people drop the Times Square New Year's Eve ball.

As 2011 counted down, all I could think was, "I wish Animaniacs were still on the air." Yakko, Wakko, and Dot would've cleaned up on Gaga and the New York City mayor, not to mention Dick Clark. Dick seemed so blasted he couldn't keep up with the count on screen. He behaved more like an animatronic attraction than a famous fellow.

Nevertheless, today is 2012 and we travel forward into an unsullied new year.

Still, 'Gaga Over New Years' would write itself.

Image: Yahoo! news