Spec Ops Head to Head 1

Okay, some of you clowns over at SOFREP and Kit Up (fans of Deadliest Warrior or some similar drivel, I’m sure), etc., have been in a pissing contest for years about who the baddest dudes are to wear a uniform…and who is truly an “operator.”  Finally, we’re about to settle the matter once and for all.

The pressing question of whether Rangers or SEALs stand atop the Great Zigarat can’t be settled by a wargame or other field evaluation. We are indebted to urban gangsta culture for providing the most empirical, objective venue for separating the hardcorps from the pogues: a video of both sides trash-talking to a beat.

Folks, this one’s too close to call. I’m gonna have to turn this over to my review panel for thorough analysis. Let’s start with you, Thad: What’s your initial impression of who the victor is?

THAD: Well Hank, first of all it’s important to remember that everyone is a winner in a contest like this, just by virtue of being here. Having said that, it just seems to me that the Navy SEAL had more bragging rights, and came in firing the bigger guns, if you will. The Ranger just never recovered after that first strike.

RICK: UNACCEPTABLE! This whole video is un-sat, and what the hell do you know Thad, you leg civilian bitch? The Ranger body-slammed that fuzzy-faced little seaman stain, even with one hand holding his coffee cup.

SYLVIA: The real loser in this video is all of womankind, as one of our own was stripped of her dignity, and her clothes, transformed into a sex object and paraded before the camera on the altar of male gratification.

THAD: While I agree with you in principle, Sylvia, I’m obligated to point out that a bikini is considered clothing. And it could be argued that the men in the video showed as much skin, or more, as the female.

DUANTE: Yo main, hold up. Hold up. This ain’t about weather some little flat-booty white chick showed too much skin or if a forest ranger can save the baby seals. This just another example of subliminal American bigotry. Not one brotha in the video, first of all. Not one. And did you catch that slur about the Oreo cookie?

RICK: You’re a no-go as usual, Duante. Pull your head out of your fourth-point and lock on. It’s not “baby seals” and “forest rangers,” first of all.

THAD: As much as I hate to agree with Rick, I’m afraid he’s right. The Oreo cookie comment was a pun referring to “black ops.”

DUANTE: Fool, we all know what they really mean when they say “Oreo.” And he even admitted, right in the video, that he wants to make it all vanilla! If that isn’t white supremacist, I don’t know what is.

THAD: Again, this was all a joke about the term “black ops,” referring to military missions of a clandestine nature. Like assassination, sabotage, or military kidnapping…all of which are within the scope of a unit like the SEALs, whereas the Rangers are simply a force of light infantry, designated for patrols…

RICK: UNACCEPTABLE! Did you pull all of that out of a book, Thad? “Whereas” you’re a dumbass civilian pogue who couldn’t hang with a girl scout troop on a three-klick march to the chow hall!

SYLVIA: What’s that supposed to mean, Rick?

RICK: Black Hawk Down, bitches. Just like he said in the video. You wanna talk military kidnapping?

DUANTE: Yo, and that’s another thing: why’s it gotta’ be “black” ops? Any time they be assassinatin’ or sabotagin’ or any kind of kidnapification, you gotta call it “black.” You don’t see that? You don’t see how the black community suffers guilt by association any time whitey gets to play with the language?

SYLVIA: You’re all missing the point, here. This video is just another instrument of oppression in the patriarchy’s toolbox. It sets us back 50 years. All over the world tomorrow, when womyn arrive in the marketplace, they’ll be subconsciously compared to this… this Stockholm Syndrome blonde sex object with the artfully displayed mammories.

THAD: Sylvia has a point: this actress has entirely too feminine a physique for 2014. The breasts are aesthetically appealing I admit, but would look better on the body of a high school football wide receiver. Or a horizontally challenged womyn.

RICK: Is that code for a fat chick?

DUANTE: Code? Oh, you wanna talk code? How about that reference to Osama Bin Laden? Here’s a dark-skinned man with a non-western philisophical worldview, killed by gun-happy rednecks in camouflage, and we supposed to laugh about it.

THAD: We need to get back on track. So Duante, who would you consider the winner?

DUANTE: Fool, please. Both these crackas got white man’s disease; couldn’t rhyme their way out of Sesame Street. It’s no wonder they didn’t even try to settle it with a break dance battle.

THAD: Granted, but what we’re here to determine…

DUANTE: I mean like “training” rhymes with “Peyton Manning?” Come on now, y’all. Ain’t nobody got time for that. But I guess, when it comes to bustin’ a rhyme, the forest ranger was worse. He either tried to put too many syllables into each verse, or not enough. Ain’t never got it right, main.

THAD: I was referring more to substantive content in…

RICK: UNACCEPTABLE! Too many syllables? Not enough? Wake up and move your ass out, Duante! You think Ice Cube is the man, then you turn around and complain about this guy’s rhyme scheme? And he’s not a forest ranger, asswipe.

DUANTE: Fool, what you know about Ice Cube?

SYLVIA: Not one of you neanderthals has even attempted to justify the ruthless exploitation of the womyn in this video! It so obviously panders to heterosexual males.

RICK: It panders to the Navy too. After all, you got a shot of a cross-dressing SEAL in there. …Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

THAD: Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

DUANTE: Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

THAD: I’m afraid we still haven’t come to a consensus on who won.

SYLVIA: You can try digging yourself out of this hole with all your bone-throwing to the gay/lesbian community. But what this video boils down to is nothing more than a thinly-veiled phallic comparison. I mean, really…brandishing big guns in every other shot, infantile references to your genitalia…

RICK: Those were weapons. This is my gun.

SYVIA: AAAAAAAAAAAAH! Put that away! That’s disgusting!

RICK: Just throwing you a bone, Sylvia.

DUANTE: That’s not a bone. That’s a splinter, white boy. This is a bone.


SYLVIA: AAAAAAAAAAAH! I’m being oppressed! This is the worst atrocity since Tailhook!

RICK: What is that, Duante? Looks like a penis, only smaller.

DUANTE: Fool, please. If Sylvia wasn’t a typical frumpy-ass white bitch, you’d see. In fact, back that video up to the bikini snap.

RICK: HOO-WAH! Rangers lead the way!

THAD: Um, I suppose we should wrap up this discussion…

RICK: “Get to the chopp-ah!”

Old West Meets New World Order

If you allow the mainstream media to educate you on current events, then what you know about the standoff at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada goes something like this: Right-wing fanatics, including environment-hating greedy ranchers, are trespassing on federal land, oppressing poor little desert turtles, owe a million bucks in unpaid fines, and tried to pick a fight with heroic federal agents determined to save the turtles. But because federal police are always so reluctant to butcher American citizens, they defused the situation before it got out of hand by pulling out.

It’s actually a wisely selected point of contention for the globalist henchmen to confront law abiding American citizens over: they’re not stealing private property outright, like they usually do. This dispute has to do with public land, and the cities full of boob tube zombies know nothing about history, much less grazing rights.


If you’re familiar at all with the western genre, then too many times to count you’ve read books…but even more frequently watched movies…with the New Deal range war plot: Greedy ranchers (capitalists) want to increase their own empires, so they hire mercenary gunfighters (union busters) to bully, abuse and murder freegrazers or homesteading farmers  (the proletariat) in order to cheat them out of their claims (welfare, unions, etc.). Usually justice wins out and order is restored when a US Marshal (the savior of federal government) arrives to set everything right,  against heroic odds facing the rancher’s gun-happy private army. Change the names,  actors and some minor plot points and right there you have the “open source” script for three out of five westerns ever filmed.

I can count on one hand…actually two fingers…the range war westerns that don’t follow this formula: The Curly Wolf and Showdown on the Hogback.

Marxist propaganda is nothing new. It helped condition the voters to elect FDR and his fellow travellers to four terms. That crew didn’t let a crisis go to waste, either. The fact that their socialist bedfellows created the crises in the first place was no big deal, considering that they would also write the history.

Fellow travelers have also scripted the narrative for the Bundy Ranch conflict. But in reality the Nevada ranching families started out as homesteaders themselves in the 1800s. About four dozen ranch families have been bullied off their grazing rights by the feds (whose job it is to protect the rights of states, and individuals), but the Bundys refused to sell theirs. So the feds rustled what Bundy cattle they could, stampeded the rest in 90 degree heat to separate calves from their mothers and overheat them. All the crocodile tears shed over the desert tortoise dry up when “land managers” kill off the calves en masse.

What the confrontation above was about was the Bundys and their supporters finding out that the dump truck protected by the paramilitary convoy was full of tools feds use to destroy the irrigation system built by private ranchers over the last 140 years. This is a siege strategy to dehydrate and starve (no water=no grass) the cows to death.

The endangered turtle plot device is a convenient excuse for just another federal land grab, which is just one front in their accelerating national power grab. The governor and local sheriff both have the legal authority to kick the feds out of where the federal government has no Constitutional jurisdiction (as in every state), but the sheriff is worse than useless and the governor is most likely just another tool owned by the same puppetmasters who own Congress and the White House.

The feds returned the stolen cattle after backing down from the confrontation. But the sympathizers who showed up to support Bundy will have to go back to work eventually, while the federal storm troopers can wait it out, massing forces and reviewing intelligence (all on the taxpayer’s dime) while the media obediently demonizes the victims for them, conditioning the populace to believe that whatever happens to these enemies of the state is deserved.

Here’s one of the things that’s been happening behind the various media smokescreens: Washington is ballooning our already unsustainable debt by borrowing billions from Red China. They then turn around and give those billions back to Red China in the form of foreign aid, which the Chinese then use to buy up our vital national resources (sea ports, highways, copper mines, coal mines, oil fields, etc). I’m simplifying the process here, but that’s the truth of it in a nutshell.

The Chinese want to build a solar energy farm on the free graze the Bundys use. Chances are it is none other than Harry Reid who wants to sell them the contested land at less than half its value (and the Chinese will buy it with money confiscated from your paycheck and mine). They probably intend to use fracking to get oil out of the ground as well. How much do you want to bet that we won’t hear a peep about the poor desert tortoise once the Chinese control the land?

By the way, all this is happening while beef prices are at an all-time high, and getting worse every week. Have you ever stopped for a second to consider whose interests the crew in Washington is looking out for?

The federal troops will be back, to be sure. Now they have a much better idea of enemy (American citizens) strength, arms/equipment, location and organization. They have wire tapped conversations, UAV spy footage, and intelligence gleaned from Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to fill in the picture for them. With a big protest rally in DC planned for May, some speculate that the feds will move back on the Bundys while that diversion is going on.

They will be back at some point–and probably not just for the Bundy’s cattle. You can bet that they’ll have a neatly-wrapped narrative prepared for mass consumption, and the lapdog media will regurgitate it faithfully. Whatever variation of the old New Deal range war narrative they adopt, you can bet the villains (“domestic terrorists”) will be gun owners (as usual), property rights advocates and pretty much everybody who esteems the Constitution (which, ironically but obviously, excludes those who are required to take an oath to uphold it as a condition of their employment) as the law of our land.

The Glass Key

Dashiell Hammett is credited with creating the hardboiled genre, along with Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane. Considering the time in which it was published, this novel is about as hardboiled as they come. Even compared to a film maker like Quentin Tarantino, who faces no limitations on how dark and crass a story he can tell (and is applauded when he finds a way to offend somebody in the audience), this story is hardcorps.

I developed an interest in Hammett because The Maltese Falcon is probably my favorite hardboiled detective movie, and definitely my favorite flick starring Humphrey Bogart. Of course Falcon is Hammett’s most famous work, compiled from Sam Spade adventures in the pulps. I also once saw a pseudo-biographical made-for-TV movie about Hammett which piqued my curiosity.

This review is not about the 1942 film, which altered the plot and combined characters.

The Glass Key is about Ned Beaumont, a “wise guy” in gangster lingo. Or, if feeling a bit less generous, you could call him a henchman. He works for a guy named Paul Madvig, who is sometimes referred to as a politician, but in reality is somebody who owns politicians. Keep in mind this was written during Prohibition, and it’s easy to imagine Madvig as a kinder, gentler Al Capone type.

A  murder takes place, and Beaumont is made a special investigator by the District Attorney (who is owned my Madvig). Like Phillip Marlowe and others who follow in hardboiled history, though, Ned Beaumont doesn’t really solve the mystery. He merely struggles to survive on the mean streets, busting heads and getting his own busted in return…and the killer just happens to get exposed before it’s all over.

Ironic, but while reading the book, this is the exact actor I pictured in the role of the sadistic enforcer. I guess the casting director in 1942 thought him perfect as well.

Beuamont is an interesting character–about as amoral as you could get away with publicly in the prewar era. Depending on your disposition, you might find him less likeable than Paul Madvig…or the villains. Hammett always refers to him by his full name. Only characters use his first name by itself.

Reading this vintage novel is a glimpse into history, if you lose track of that, you might not appreciate that when this yarn first came off the typewriter, a new trail was being blazed.


Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I was not prepared for what happened at the theater. Knowing full well the sequel factor, and having seen a poster for a movie about Cesar Chavez on the way inside (a bad omen if there ever was), I was expecting Hollywood business as usual.

(In fact, it’s kind of surprising Captain America wasn’t turned into “Captain Global Village” long ago, replacing his stars-and-stripes motif with rainbows and olive branches. Well, Marvel did turn him into “Nomad” for a while in the 1970s, but I guess the fans wouldn’t stand for it.)

I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised. Marvel Studios has stuck to the formula that has made most of their cinematic efforts so successful, including some great lines, a funny cameo by legendary Stan Lee, and an extravaganza of spectacular destruction surrounding a plot that ties in nicely to the rest of the Marvel Movie Canon.

Where’s the red and white, by the way?

Of course there were annoying themes, too, like the mask removal fetish. (Question for Marvel’s creative Czars: if secret identities are now public, why do your superheroes wear masks at any time whatsoever?)

Winter Soldier is an enjoyable flick for the whole family, but there’s some interesting themes under the surface, too.

Here are some tasty morsels for conspiracy theorists: SHIELD, a pseudo-secret government agency with an unlimited budget and power that Hitler’s Secret Police could only dream of, has itself been compromised–infiltrated to the very highest levels by Hydra (a super-secret international organization bent on enslaving the world). SHIELD has developed a preemptive crime stopping program which is ready to go online, and I almost choked on my popcorn when they mentioned Operation Paperclip. The predictive algorithm explained in dialog also sounds a lot like PROMIS. Through this new program, SHIELD can prevent crimes before they happen by identifying potential criminals.

In effect, SHIELD (with Hydra pulling the strings) is on its way to becoming the Thought Police that George Orwell warned us about. Keep in mind that in the constantly evolving Newspeak of the dominant ideology, “thought crime” is now called “hate crime.” And the method chosen to eradicate thought crime is nearly identical to how enemies of the state can now be dealt with. Replace unmanned drones with huge, high-tech airborne gun platforms and you have the same execution of US citizens without trial favored by the Obama Administration.

It’s pretty amazing these themes survived to the final cut. Chances are the script was written during the Bush II regime, when violations of civil liberties were double-plus ungood to the Hollywood Zeitgeist. And at one point you see that one of the millions of thought/hate criminals located is in the White House. Yeah, right. But still, it’s astounding that this plot element was retained with only a weak revision like that.

Take a knee, Cap, and prepare for debriefing.

However it happened, it appears the message of this film backfired on the Hollywood Elite in similar fashion to John Carpenter’s They Live.


A Battle of Sorcerers

Jim Morris, after returning from Vietnam, became an author of fiction and non-fiction. After playing catch-up on the sex, drugs and rock & roll he had missed out on during his three tours in the 1960s, he began exploring Toltec spiritualism in the mid-to-late 1970s. It is that background which informs this supernatural tale, much the way Star Wars was built upon George Lucas’ understanding of spiritual forces which began after suffering a car accident in his youth.

Morris is not just an author, but an experienced editor as well, and knows what makes a story sing. His humor has appealed to me since my first encounter with his work, and many of his experiences as a soldier resonate with me as well, even through fictionalized sequences in his novels. And as an adroit storyteller does, he built this yarn around a strong character: Dave Perry.

Parry (like Morris) is a Special Forces veteran, as well as a current DEA agent. His heredity is partly from the Cherokee Nation, which is why he’s given an undercover assignment in Talequah, Oklahoma to bust some alleged Peyote users as part of a local political struggle involving a quid pro quo arrangement between the FBI and the Tribal Chief. Of course, as the title indicates, Dave gets waist-deep in a whole lot more than he bargained for.

Dave Perry has a strong resemblance to the title character in Silvernail, which is to say heroic and likeable, without being a boy scout.


I’m not sure how Jim would feel about this, but I could probably argue that Battle of Sorcerers completes a trilogy of sorts, with John Silvernail representing the hero’s condition prior to spiritual awakening, Dave Perry begins the transformation, and Spurlock is the completed guru/shaman/witchdoctor with his physical and spiritual selves mutually aware.

It would be difficult to ignore the mystical undergirding of this book. Although presented with the Cherokee accent, the religion of the eponymous sorcerers is decidedly Eastern.  There is no good and evil, per se, but white and black magic/light and dark sides of the Force/Yin and Yang. Or “love and bullshit” as John Sky, the master shaman/Messiah figure of the novel (with the same chi as Quetzalcoatyl) frames it .

Here is one of the funniest parts in Sorcerers, after Dave decides to become the disciple of John Sky (who in this scene is working on a pickup truck):

“Here’s your first lesson in Indian Medicine,” he (John Sky) said. “Get over the idea that you are your body.”

He nodded toward a wrench on a wooden stand near Dave. “Then hand me that wrench.”

“With what?” (Dave asked.)

However you feel about the religious component to the story, Battle of Sorcerers is a fun, entertaining, and well-written novel. Jim says he has trouble categorizing the genre. I would call it a “feel-good supernatural thriller.”

Thor: The Dark World

Originally posted November 2013

Goldilocks is back…and he acts like a grown-up.

Iron Man 3 continued that franchise’s plummeting spiral into stupidity, despite a very strong start. At the theater for the Thor sequel I saw a preview for the next Captain America movie, and it’s hard to tell whether or not that one will follow in the cinematic footsteps of so many other sequels. It will be very difficult for anyone in Hollywood tasked with a superhero movie to top The Avengers, despite its flaws. I fully expect the next one to suck.

All that being said, The Dark World is, IMO, an improvement on Thor.

Granted, the Thunderer didn’t burst on the cinematic scene with quite the panache as Shell-Head. But that may be due to the difficulty of writing a character like Thor to appeal to a present-day audience. The Tony Stark of Marvel Comics received a makeover that would be heretical with a character like Marvel’s Thunder God–though he gets laughs every now and again [like with his ”he’s adopted” line in The Avengers] he’s always been not just a straight man, but quite the grandiose straight man. Iron Man’s ”Shakespeare in the Park” line about him was even more true of the comic book Thor than the movie Thor. There’s just no way you can turn him into a wisecracking party animal like the one Robert Downey Jr. portrays.

The appeal of clever humor was not lost on Dark World’s creators, though most of it comes from the supporting characters. But what they really banked on to ensure popularity was the Chick Appeal Factor. There are plenty of shots with actor Chris Hemsworth’s rippling triceps prominently displayed of course, but the film makers’ emotional super-move was in the romantic sub plot. Thor’s got an admirer in Asgaard–a kick-butt valkerie with a projected longevity commensurate with his [about a 5,000 year life span] but his love for earthbound mortal Natalie Portman is so strong that he gives up his extra-terrestrial friend with benefits…he even turns down the throne of Asgaard. You know how important monogamy was to the Vikings and all their gods.

Let us pause to hear the collective sigh and ”Aaawwwwwwww…” from ladies around the globe. If they’d only throw in a shot of Thor slicing cucumbers in the kitchen, this would get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.

About that throne. In the first movie Thor wanted it but his father Odin decided he was too rash and immature to rule. Well now he’s all grown up–wise, mature, level-headed–and Pops wants to give him the throne…but Junior don’t want it no more.

In fact, it’s Odin who behaves rashly and a bit immature this time.

The plot involves a convergence of multiple worlds. By ”worlds” I mean parallel dimensions or something. And there’s a dark elf who wants to turn it all…well, dark. It gets a bit New Age with the wormholes opening at mystic power cores and such. I’m actually a bit surprised they only played with the one in the vicinity of Stonehenge and didn’t also take us on a tour of the pyramids in Egypt and the Americas. Anyhoo, it is also proven to us that beings from Asgaard can be killed.

And of course the film makers had fun with the Loki character. He has long teetered between villain and anti-hero and they’re still milking that to good effect. But for a hot minute in this movie they might even succeed in making him a sympathetic character for you.

Decent action with great visuals, plus some nice sprinklings of humor make up for whatever problems you might find with the plot and premise. Overall, a fun flick your girlfriend will probably enjoy more than you.