Movie Review: Jarhead

Well acted, good photography, definitely some neat scenes. But it left me wanting more.

It didn’t seem to add up to anything. War is hell, war is great, Iraq was bad, Iraq was good, Bush is great, Bush is bad, whatever. It doesn’t say anythign like that. It’s just a bunch of stuff that happened. I’m in favor of that for a comedy, but for a serious film? What’s the point?

I wonder how much of it was true. It was based on Swofford’s autobiographical book, so it’s certainly true in the big strokes. It has a good look into the military world, there are many little touches that are far too realistic to be faked. On the other hand, during the course of this film a recruit got shot in the head during training with no real outcry. Another flipped out and attacked a superior officer, with no repercussions. Several were borderline nuts. All of this was treated as ordinary. That doesn’t jibe with any other book I’ve read about military life.

If you enjoyed Jarhead, I reccomend two other sources:

Making the Corps: ” In Making the Corps, Ricks follows a platoon of young men through 11 grueling weeks of boot camp as their drill instructors indoctrinate them into the culture of the Few and the Proud. Many arrive at Parris Island undisciplined and apathetic; they leave as marines.” It’s a great book, you get to see how the military mind is shaped, and how the military wants it to be shaped. You all see all the tensions between the Marine ideals, and how the exist once they get out in the real world.

BUDS Training Documentary: Nothing has ever made me feel less of a man than watching this. Whenever it comes on Discovery Channel, I can’t turn away. This follow a call of 83 soldiers who are trying to get into the the Navy Seals program (BUDS=Basic Underwater Demolition). It is truly amazing. These men are held to the most mind-blowing standards of physical and mental excellence I can comprehend. They might as well be an entirely different species.

Atlanta’s new theme song

The city of Atlanta has recently finished up a big contest for our new theme song. Perhaps I should just say our theme song, since I’m unaware of any previous one, unless you count hillbillies trying to get laid. It is part of a “rebranding” campaign. I guess the “Atlanta: A relative oasis in the middle of a state of ignorant racists that is Georgia” wasn’t cutting it anymore.

This blog will now conduct a scientific test. I have not yet listened to the new song. And yet, I feel confident in stating it will stink. And doubly confident in saying it will never convince one tourist to send one incremental dollar down Atlanta’s way.

Wow. I can’t get it. They are actually charging money for it. This is mind-blowing. Do they expect people money to actually pay for a song that is advertising Atlanta? That’s like paying for a poster of the Jolly Green Giant, but without the kitsch factor. That is, worthless. I am stunned.

I will proceed with my scathing analysis unabated by actual facts. To the best of my knowledge, there is exactly one geographic branding idea that has succeeded. “I love New York”. Huge success. In fact, if memory serves, it was written as “I [heart] New York”, and gave birth to the heart-icon-representing-the-word-love that is all over the place now. So what did it have going for it?

* It’s New York. New York is one of the 4 American cities that are unique and must be visited. (That may be a future post). Let’s just say there was a reason Osama went after New York, and not Bismarck or Macon.
* No one else had done it yet. The market is saturated. Every podunk metropolis has a brand, a logo, and a theme song. You can’t compete anymore.
* Originality. I [heart] New York is clever, when no one else has done it yet.
* A catchy jingle, that is short. Was there a longer version? Don’t know, don’t care.

Guess how many of these Atlanta’s theme song has? You don’t have to listen to it, just guess. I’m going with zero.

Oh, and guess who wrote the theme song? Dallas Austin. Yes, Dallas Austin, there’s a name guaranteed to confuse everyone.

(Thank to Art’s head for the post idea.)


I’m going to try and start writing again. Politics just depresses the hell out of me these days, and I’m running out of ‘silly’ topics.

Having a newborn makes it hard to write. We’re coming out of the hardest stretch, hopefully I’ll have a little more time to compose for this.

The pendulum swings

Back in July, I wondered what it would take before the country started realizing what they had in Bush, before it was publicly acceptable to call him out for what he is. I guess the time is finally arriving. Bush’s popularity continues to plummet (36% at press time), 57% of the country think he misled us into war, 80% think the Plame affair is serious, etc. His once monolithic empire is crumbling around him. It was bound to happen, I am only sad that it didn’t happen a year ago. Still 3 years left of this corrupt idiocy.

Those numbers are atrocious, and just getting worse. Compare them with the numbers I went through in my 2004 election analysis (written just over 6 months ago). There are a whole slew of lies this administration fed the populace, amplified by a docile media, that the country believed. (Why shouldn’t they, who would expect their president would be a bald-faced liar?) The lies are coming out. Some are out already, some are in process of being undiscovered, and some are obvious but will never be precisely pinned down.

I wonder about those people who voted for Bush and have turned against him. Somewhere between 15 and 25% of the country voted for him and now have turmed against him. I’d be very curious to hear from those people. What was it that changed their mind? What made them finally wake up and realize what they had voted for?

I think there were two turning points.

1) Katrina. Like a mantra, Bush always invoked 9/11. He used it to get us into Iraq, to cut taxes, to impugn anyone who stood in his way, he could always rely on good old 9/11. He was the one who was keeping us safe from the terrorists. Only Katrina showed he wasn’t. Katrina showed that there were no plans, no defense, no strategy, no nothing. And this wasn’t in response to an incredibly tricky unforseen diabolic strategy. This was against wind. This was against wind that had been predicted multiple times by multiple agencies in multiple years. Any citizen could see for themself how ill-prepared we were. Anyone could see that instead of trying to protect us, Bush had served up political hack after political hack, leaving New Orleans in the hands of a man who spent the critical day trading e-mails with his secretary about how good he looked.

2) Media. The media has always been complicit. Always needing to find two sides, always needing to protect sources, always needing to lick the hand that feeds them, always needing access, always needing money — Bush learned he could say anything and get away with it. He could debate Gore, lie through his teeth, state obvious fallacies, and still get the media to talk about Gore’s sighing. It just got worse. Well, somewhere along the line the media started to wake up. They are still a long long way away from where they should be, but they’re getting there. Was it time, was it McClellan’s obvious lying, who knows.

It’s hard to write this. I want to yell, “I told you so! I told you so! I was right, I was right!” to the world, but that doesn’t matter much. Our presidency, our government, our country, and our world are worse for these last years. I only hope we can regain what we lost.