Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sailors - you do that for me?

(to a friend who appeared in the Denver airing of the PBS show "Carrier")

OK, so you look pretty good in your navy blue Navy uniform. And you were always a good manager of time. Maybe it’s the military training.

The nighttime landings on the USS Nimitz pitching in high seas like that... deeply moved me. I get that they have to practice dangerous manuevers because you never know when you'll have a hot mission. But you guys do that for me? For the country? For duty? For your families? For the constitution?

I don't really feel worthy, but I'm damn glad you do what you do.

Full disclosure: my dad was a Navy man, repairing aircraft carriers in San Diego in World War II.
I shoulda known it was an Icon /Mel Gibson production. Really, really good TV.

Gunny Bob on presidential character

Denver’s got its own mil-talker, Gunnery Sgt. Bob Newman, USMC (ret.). “Gunny Bob” rides the nighttime airwaves of Clear Channel’s clear channel KOA-850 AM most nights from 7 – 10 p.m. (make that 1900 – 2200h you civilian pile of waste product!)

Ooh-rah! (Do Army guys spell it differently?)

At times he can be inflammatory and downright wrong. But sometimes he’s so stinking right it makes me smile. Tonight he was off on Jeremiah Wright’s Church of Christ in Chicago (we will discuss the nature of the Afro-centric church later), but Gunny Bob was completely right on the elements of leadership.

The characteristics that we require of the person we choose to be president:
1) good judgment,
2) the ability to be decisive (which, with good judgment, helps one make the right decision),
3) moral courage.

Did they teach that to Gunny Bob at Quantico or someplace? That stuff works.

Signed, a bitter Black Christian gun-owner from the Midwest

Monday, April 28, 2008

“Carrier” on PBS

Flipping around last night, I stopped on the premiere of the PBS series “Carrier.” A film crew spent six months straight with the deployed crew of the USS Nimitz, and it’s public television at its best (meaning little narration, mostly the words of the crew).

“If you ain’t ordnance, you ain’t s***!”

“We build bombs and move them around the ship, and we’re at the bottom of the pecking order.”

“Our blood pumps about 1,000 miles an hour.”

“If you die, you die. That’s just the way it is.”

“My father was a pimp or something. My mother was a prostitute.”

“You know me, man. I worry about everything.”

“(On deck) you keep your head on a swivel, because everything changes so fast.”

“Personally, I don’t even get the war – why we’re fighting for someone else’s freedom when we barely have our own.”

“On ship, there are as many opinions on the war as in any group of people.”

The first of the ten-part series seemed mostly free of agenda. To me it looked like a pretty fair presentation of the good, the bad and the ugly of life on board. I couldn’t be more impressed with the young people at every level of the ship’s operations.

Forbes reports the most dangerous job is fishing. The second most dangerous job, pilots and flight engineers. Put them together and what do you get? The aircraft carrier… a miracle of modern engineering, an awesome tool of warfare. A floating high school. A small city on the sea.

Check out “Carrier.”

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Soul Revival, Neo Soul, Acid Jazz, etc.

Music is extremely personal. Even people that like the same sounds like them for different reasons. "It means this!" "It means that!" And so on. So indulge me a mention from the soul of my earhole.

A BIG shout out to my new favorite free internet radio station, Yahoo's Soul Revival station, which is powered by the editors at

Their mix is strong enough to hang with my favorite DJ (K-Nee), here in the Denver area, who runs the "So What" radio show late Friday nights at midnight on another classic outlet, KUVO. Sometimes, Denver feels pretty hip!

A couple of other recommendations:

See the previous column of music tips at The Old School from Feb. 14

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Movies - the right way

El Paso Sheriff: What’s it mean? What’s it leading to? I mean if you told me 20 years ago that I’d see children walking the streets of our Texas towns with green hair, bones in their noses, I just flat out wouldn’t have believed you.
Ed Tom Bell: Signs and wonders. But I think once you quit hearin’ “sir” and “ma’am” the rest is soon to foller.
El Paso Sheriff: Oh, it’s the tide. It’s the dismal tide. It is not the one thing.
Ed Tom Bell: Not the one thing.

Here in the People’s Republic of Boulder, in April there is an annual “idea camp,” a intellectual festival called the Conference on World Affairs. Participants are mostly left-of-center, with an occasional retired general, cold war diplomat, or unconventional (non-liberal) thinker sprinkled in.

Among the most popular annual sessions is called “Cinema Interruptus.” They watch the whole movie (sorry, film) on Monday, and then watch it again Tuesday through Friday, pausing the playback often for questions or comments from the audience, thus stretching a two-hour event into an ten-hour intensive seminar. Insights from the novel. Yeats' poetry. Other influences.

This year’s film, “No Country for Old Men.” This year’s host while Roger Ebert continues to recuperate, is Jim Emerson.

It’s a Coen brothers production, so I’m all in. Tommy Lee Jones in a major role. Money. It won “Best Picture” from the Academy (a very artsy choice). But most of all it’s just loads of fun to be in a big hall with other people who watch movies properly:
1) Sitting all the way through, and reading, the credits,
2) When watching DVDs at home, turning off the phone (and often the lights),
3) On subsequent views, turn on the commentary track, and laugh along with the directors and actors.

(I'll post an old column on watching credits one of these days.)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Charlton Heston: a salute to square-jawed intensity

A ramrod salute to an icon of the silver screen, Charlton Heston. As I reflect on Mr. Heston’s big roles, I’m digging the way this guy rolled.

He played it straight and he played it well. We get to see his Moses role every Easter-time. Ben-Hur, Heston’s Oscar-winning role is a well-worn videotape in my collection (yes, I said videotape).

The obituaries recount that Heston marched with Dr. King in the early 60s, well before civil rights were Hollywood hip.

Eventually, changed from his early liberal leanings. He switched parties. Once he campaigned for Adlai Stevenson and JFK, later in his life he campaigned for GOP candidates from Nixon ’72 through Bush ’00.

His union affiliation (president of the Screen Actors Guild), which I also liked, switched too. His Wikipedia entry notes that he left Actor’s Equity because they would not let a white actor play a Eurasian role in the stage version of “Miss Saigon.” “Obscenely racist,” said Heston. I once interviewed late actor John Hancock on the notion of Cross-ethnic casting. The large African-American man said, “I’d love to play a Nazi.”

Heston’s sci-fi era (“Soylent Green,” “Planet of the Apes”) was always cool in my eyes, which is a warning to all those who think highly of their own sophistication.

His leadership of the National Rifle Association was cool too, climaxed by his legendary photo op, holding a vintage long gun over head. You’ll have to take my second amendment rights when you pry them from “my cold, dead hands” (in his inimitable, million-dollar baritone).

(Why does my defense of the Second Amendment feel so “radical?” Is it only because of my defense of the Black Panthers’ exercise of Second Amendment rights?)

I’m still studying his thoughts on the Culture War, delivered at Harvard on Feb. 16, 1999. (Love the speeches at

I dig his 64 year marriage to Lydia, very un-Hollywood.

I hope they give him a 21-gun salute, one shot at a time.

Most importantly, I hope the Savior he met in Ben-Hur was his in real life too.