Category Archives: Historical

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Broken Trail – a (Red Pill) Review

This western was probably made before there even was a “manosphere,” but those of a neomasculine perspective should find it well worth watching.

The plot premise: A rancher and his nephew strike a deal to drive a herd of horses across many miles of open range in 1898, to sell to a rancher supplying the British Army. Along the way, they run into a sleazy human trafficker transporting a wagon load of beautiful Chinese girls to a whore house. (The girls had been sold to the trafficker by their own families in China.) The trafficker rustles their horses, and is dealt with the way horse thieves were actually dealt with in those times. This leaves Print Ritter (Robert Duvall) and Tom Harte (Thomas Haden Church) burdened with the care of the human cargo.

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This film was produced as a two-part series (on AMC, I think). And it was released in this millenium. But hang onto yer hats, boys, ’cause the Chinese gals don’t turn out to be invincible Kung Fu masters who beat down the bad guys bare-handed. Nor are they “strong, independent” snowflakes who wind up as successful queens of their own cattle empires. In fact, there are only a couple points in the plot where The Narrative tries to slither into this pleasant surprise of a film–and it’s subdued enough to be overlooked. Time and again, the film makers fail to inject the current year “values” into this period piece–which makes it one big macroaggressive triggerfest.

And that’s refreshing enough all by itself.

Lo and behold, not all the villains are white male heterosexuals, either. But beyond superficial details, this cinematic tale cuts against the grain in other ways, too. There are lessons about frame, hypergamy, SMV (sexual market value) and other red pill concepts that manosphere mavens will appreciate.

Our cowboy heroes are not the illiterate, bigoted raaaaaayciss stereotypes you might expect any white male heterosexual character to be (prior to the sanctifying advent of feminism) yet neither do they turn into fawning beta white knights around the high-SMV women (in a time and place where such women were few and far between). They are men, and consistently behave as such with all parties encountered. They’ve got a job to do, and do their best to stay focussed on that despite mounting distractions.

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The Chinese women recognize not only that the cowboys are honorable, but are effective protectors and providers. You might expect (after being innundated with current year propaganda) that after being sold into slavery, treated harshly, and witnessing the rape of one of their own, a movie womyn would be hell-bent on avoiding all men until some metrosexual current-year-sensibilitied white knight came along, recognized her for the special snowflake she is, and dedicated himself to serving her perpetually while offering heartfelt apologies for any and every misunderstanding which may or may not be his fault. Yet, when the cowboys try to hand these women off so they can get back to their job, the women freak out in protest. They know a good deal when they see one, and need good men to protect them in this “savage land.”

The wild West wasn’t quite as savage as the inner cities in the current year welfare state, but I digress.

All my use of neomasculine terms to analyze this film is not, however, meant to imply that the heroes are PUAs (“pick up artists”) who use “game” to make themselves attractive to the girls. They maintain “frame,” for sure, but naturally–not as some learned technique to artificially boost SMV. Truth is, these are cowboys living before the culture became an over-sexualized idiocracy with ubiquitous entertainment mediums. The male-to-female ratio was abysmal in the old West, and most men had resigned themselves to being lifelong bachelors, or knew they would have to acquire significant resources before they could hope to attract wife material (and the culture didn’t encourage people to sleep around as it does now, either, so alpha PUAs in those times were not well regarded by society at all). In other words, the cowboys were not sex-obsessed, and the language/cultural barrier would have given them pause in this situation, however attracted they were to these damsels-in-distress.

There’s a lot more to appreciate about this film than just the socio-sexual dynamics. You should check it out.

Doom River: The Sergeant #5 – a Review

Due mostly to my schedule, my blogged reviews of this blood’n’guts war series stopped at #4. But my negligence stops, now!

Master Sergeant Mahoney and Corporal Cranepool have just returned from their attachment to a French unit liberating Paris. It was supposed to be cushy duty, but only the end of it was cushy–in the arms of some French floozies in a fancy hotel.

doomriverpaperbackThe Sergeant and his sidekick are back just in time to meet Charlie Company’s new C.O. Captain Anderson is a young, inexperienced officer, but one of the good ones (a rare combo, in my day). They’re also just in time for one of Patton’s “recon in force” missions, to push across the Moselle and keep the pressure on the Germans.

Patton is out of gas for his tanks, and frightfully low on artillery, ammo and supplies. He assumes if he is able to stir up some action, Ike will be forced to send him what he needs, so Patton can push on to Berlin and finish the war before Christmas. But Ike isn’t having it–all the supplies will be diverted to Field Marshal Montgomery, who is tasked with taking Antwerp.

(Historical note: Yes, Patton’s 3rd Army could have reached Berlin and ended the war before Christmas of ’44 if their supplies hadn’t been cut off. Also true that all those resources were given to Monty–somewhat less than a daring or decisive general–for Operation Market Garden (of A Bridge Too Far fame), which had less chance of success and, even if successful, would have had a lesser impact on the grand strategic situation. Most likely, Patton’s onslaught was intentionally delayed in order to give the Red Army time to capture the half of Europe which had been promised to Stalin by FDR at the Yalta conferences.)

So the 33rd “Hammerhead” Division conducts a river crossing at great cost, since they didn’t have much in the way of artillery support, and their men and boats are chewed up pretty bad by the German defenders. Still, they now have a beachhead from which the Wermacht has to throw them. Mahoney’s regiment bears the brunt of this counterattack.doomriverebook

The Americans are in a bad position, but Patton doesn’t like surrendering ground once he’s taken it.

This installment in the series could launch a character study on the sort of men who populate the officer corps of an army. Whether a commander wants to make a name for himself, or simply doesn’t want a sub-par evaluation, it is their troops who are used like cannon  fodder to enhance or maintain their egos.

Mahoney himself has some moments in this book in which he demonstrates more humanity than is normal for him. (Also, in this one we are introduced to PFC Butsko. I can’t help but notice the similarities between him and the platoon sergeant of The RatBastards–also named Butsko.) Still, this is a transitional phase for Mahoney, and the real plot dynamics focus on other characters.

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Speed Week Plus: American Graffiti – a Review

This installment of Speed Week Plus is a little different. There are no chase scenes and there’s only one all-out street race (not the one in the clip at the bottom of this post, which was cut short by a red light). In fact, it’s not even action adventure, but more of a dramedy. Yet American Graffiti is such an iconic film for gearheads and speed freaks of the pre-Internet generations, it just can’t be left out.

I’ve often wondered about the title–what it was supposed to mean. The only way I could connect it with the film’s content was to imagine a yearbook of the high school class the main characters belonged to (which, I guess, would fit the Dragnet-style “where-are-they-now” overlays just before the final credits. And a yearbook is actually used in the trailer below). Then I discovered the original title was “Rock Radio is American Graffiti,” and all became clear.

The film is about “cruising culture” which was ubiquitous in postwar America, right up until the gas crunch in the early ’70s I guess. What united the entire car crazy generation was rock & roll. And regional subsections of that generation were connected usually by a single personality, in the form of a radio disk jockey. In this case it’s the mysterious and almost mystical Wolfman Jack. Not only does the original title augment this theme, but in the screenplay the very first shot was not supposed to be of Mel’s Drive-In, but of a car radio dial being tuned to XERB.

Film maker George Lucas (whose only other feature to date had been the box office flop THX1138) had grown up in that generation. This movie is essentially a cinematic reminiscence of his glory days between graduating high school and packing off to film school. Two of the main characters are loosely based on Lucas himself–Kurt the aimless intellectual and Toad the nerdy braggart). The lone rebel hero (who the TV show Happy Days caraciturized into somebody called “Fonzy”) John Milner, was partially based on Lucas’ film school buddy John Millius, who went on to become a director also, despite punching out one of his professors. Average all-American boy Steve Bollander was also caricaturized on Happy Days, into Richie Cunningham (both played by Ron Howard, who also went on to become a director). And remember that annoying actress from Happy Days spinoff Laverne & Shirley? No, not her, the other one, with the dark hair. She plays Steve’s girlfriend and is not annoying at all in the role. Actually she did a fine bit of acting.

This movie was a first in many ways. Imitators cranked out nostalgic flicks well into the ’80s, trying to hitch a ride on its coat tails. The bed of vintage pop music, sometimes even with a DJ chattering over and between, became the norm in Hollywood soundtracks, nearly putting film score composers out of business until, Ironically, Lucas’ Star Wars revolutionized the film industry again. How about ensemble casts with parallel converging plotlines? That’s nearly obligatory in comedy/dramas to this day.

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Though left vague enough for any baby boomer to relate to, it’s pretty much agreed to that the story takes place in Modesto, California in 1962. On the last summer night–from sundown to sunup. Filmed just ten years after the period depicted, the simulation is done so well that even folks who were born after that era was lost forever can almost… almost “remember” those times while watching it.

I don’t know that I could effectively argue that this is an “important” film, but it certainly has had an impact on a lot of people. It can so immerse you in the milieu of postwar pre-Vietnam teenage cruising-to-rock-radio that you’ll feel a part of it even when watching it for the 45th time…then be saddened by the passing of a bygone era until you watch it again.

The possible next post for Speed Week Plus is also about a story that fuses cars with music–with a different approach, set in a different era, but with much homage to this very movie.

 

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A Rock & Roll Pioneer Dies

I am interrupting Speed Week Plus because I just found out that Chuck Berry died Saturday.

Elvis is still called the king of rock & roll but aside from vocal talent, Chuck had him beat in almost every way. He was a virtuoso with the guitar, wrote clever lyrics and was quite the crazy-legged entertainer on stage for both males and females. He also was the first to cross over the color line in music. Prior to Chuck Berry, white kids would only listen to “race records” on the down low.

ChuckBerry2Ironically, this is not necessarily an interruption of Speed Week, because Chuck Berry was not only a pioneer of rock & roll, but put his love of horsepower into some famous songs that still rock the house to this day. “You Can’t Catch Me” is a musical version of a fantasy many gearheads have probably entertained while wishing they could just rip down the open road at Ludicrous Speed without worrying about going to jail or having mandatory Insurance rates shoot up into the stratosphere. “Maybelline” has been a personal inspiration in many ways. For one, I named my favorite Street Machine after that song title. There is also a subplot in Fast Cars and Rock & Roll that is based on the lyrical Adventure in his invincible V-8 Ford.

The selection below is chosen because it plays on a red pill/neomasculine view of Sexual Market Value (SMV), but in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. His humorous lyrics are catchy and the guitar solo is understated but deft.

I read his autobiography and the man definitely had his flaws. But for a few golden years there in the mid-to-late 1950s, his musical genius really shined. Rest in peace, Chuck.

McCarthyism, “Witch Hunts,” and Coincidence Theory

A lot of people in 2017 are aware of the deceitfulness of the mainstream media, academia, and Hollywood, and the duplicity of those in government. But it would no doubt surprise them to learn this is nothing new. It’s been going on for generations–but with no alternative media to blow the whistle on them.

Before “triggering,” “microagressions,” and “safe spaces” came out of the SJW vocabulary to infect our everyday language, one of the old-school terms left-wingers liked to throw around was “McCarthyism.” Ironically, the term is used to describe what they (leftists/SJWs/feminists, etc.) do to people who challenge their Narrative. Use your own money to support a cause they don’t like:  admit in private that you believe in creationism; wear a T-shirt that they determine “sexist; or even just make a “dongle joke” to a friend; and they will launch a witch hunt of their own that won’t stop until you are fired from your job, or worse.

“McCarthyism” got it’s name from Senator Joseph McCarthy, who noticed our government being hijacked after WWII (actually, it started well before that). It turns out, with declassified documents and a non-hysterical examination of the facts in retrospect, that he was absolutely right in his whistle-blowing. (Not that truth matters to those who craft The Narrative.)

What McCarthy began to uncover was an orchestrated effort to usurp our Constitutional republic. But hell hath no fury like a conspiracy exposed, and it is the Deep State’s M.O. to assassinate the character of anybody who might be taken seriously, who would shine a light on the pattern and connect the dots.

Coincidence theorists, of course, will find some excuse to reject what stares us in the face. And the speaker in this video, himself, might be one, despite all the dots he highlights, just begging to be connected.

Stefan Molyneux has really done a good job assembling a lot of pertinent information. He gives an in-depth background so we have a context to put it in and compiling it into a pretty thorough presentation. Then he breaks down what McCarthy and his contemporaries actually did. If you’ve got the attention span, this is well worth the time it takes to listen.

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The Magnificent Seven 3.1

The grandfather of this latest Magnificent Seven movie was Akira Kurosawa’s classic The Seven Samurai.

Set toward the end of the feudal period in Japan, the plot blossoms out of a small village ravaged by “brigands.” The villagers’ livelihoods are being progressively wiped out by succeeding raids, and their very existence will soon be threatened. A wise villager proposes a plan to pool what remaining resources they have, and use it to hire samurai to protect the village. Seven alienatied warriors, for various reasons, answer the call. What follows is, in effect, a suicide mission, in which the samurai face overwhelming odds with inferior weapons and equipment (the brigands have horses, armor, and even firearms while the samurai have nothing but their swords and the clothes on their back.

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In 1960 the story was transposed into the Old West, in a film directed by John Sturges, starring Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn and Eli Wallach. The samurai are replaced by gunfighters, of course. The remake is not without its flaws, but certainly has some memorable lines.

In 2016 the latest update hit the screen. I was not even aware of it, due to how hectic personal life has been lately…until a few days ago.

Some character types have survived the evolution of the story, and the core of the plot remains the same. But the SJWs in Hollywood just could not help but conform it to The Narrative.

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The Japanese original suffered no obligation to ethnic diversity; but the new Seven is composed of mostly minorities (one each: black; Asian; Mexican; native American), and none of the white ones survive. (OMG! Is this a metaphor of WHITE GENOCIDE?!?!?!?!?) Denzel Washington is a great actor, who has been believable in every role I’ve seen him play. Furthermore, there were some black cowboys and soldiers on the frontier. But the Chisolm character is the de facto leader of the Seven and nobody (even among the bad guys) so much as mutters under their breath about it. Granted, 19th Century America was not the racist holocaust SJWs tell us it was (when they’re not trying to convince us that the USA was founded as the secular welfare state it is now, where illegal aliens are treated better than our veterans/citizens; it’s “legal” and even mandatory in some cases to discriminate against straight white males; and the only people with inalienable rights are sexual deviants). But there certainly were bigots who weren’t afraid to speak and act on their prejudices.

As if the suspension of disbelief weren’t strained enough, the film makers just had to insert a Brave Womyn Warrior into the message film. She is the de facto leader of the townsfolk during the war against the cutthroat army (led by an Evil White Male, of course).

Yeah, okay…

Despite all the social engineering, Magnificent Seven 2016 is an entertaining 133 minutes. There are plenty of dramatic scenes and fun action sequences to keep your attention. Technically the acting and direction is Grade A.

If you have the time and inclination for a movie marathon, you could do worse than watching this one back-to-back with the 1960 film and the original (and best, IMHO) Seven Samurai.

Boomtown by Gilbert Morris – A Review

I originally read this as a mass-market paperback titled Vigilante. I was just beginning to appreciate westerns at the time. I’m so glad to have found this. I subsequently bought and read the entire Reno series. Most were pretty good but I’m confident this is Morris’ pinnacle in fiction.

Jim Reno is a Confederate veteran, a reformed alcoholic and some-time “gunslick.” He’s also, like so many of us, spiritually lost…unsure how to fill the God-shaped hole in his soul. This is Christian fiction, but not preachy (or wimpy). There is one sermon in the yarn, which lasts for a paragraph of roughly three sentences. Christian characters surround Reno but, while it is no secret what the author believes, he doesn’t sermonize. At his core, Jim Reno is a “good person” who has fallen short of exemplary behavior in his life, and who wants to get right with God, but spends a good portion of this series alternating between running from his Creator and surrendering to Him. Something I can relate to. I haven’t read tons of Christian fiction, but I’ve read enough to be sick of the formulaic conversion of the main character at the end…reciting the sinner’s confession, standing ovation, blah blah blah.

One “bad person” does get saved in this novel, but Morris pulls it off deftly. I was so engrossed in the story I didn’t see it coming.

Morris likes to pepper his tales with romance, too. I do fault him for the way he shuffles love interests in and out of Reno’s life. Between the first and second books in the series, for instance, his happily-ever-after soulmate disappears with no explanation whatsoever, never to be mentioned again. In this one, the love interest Morris spent the entire previous novel priming for Reno is unceremoniously kicked to the curb in lieu of a brand new one.

The plot should be familiar to those who’ve read in the genre, or even watched western movies. A frontier town is at the mercy of lawless, greedy cattle barons and their hired guns. Decent folk band together in an attempt to protect themselves and the innocent, and turn to Jim Reno who has that rare (in reality) combination of a heart of gold and talent for violence. Reno, of course, doesn’t want to get involved, for all the I’m-trying-to-escape-my-violent-past reasons.

Whatever faults I could list here (and believe me: I could nit-pick ANYTHING if I put my mind to it), Boomtown is a great read. It is hard to put down. The bad guys will curl your lip, you will grieve for the victims, cheer for the good guys, and close the back cover with a satisfaction only the great books can give you.

(From the Two-Fisted Blog Archives)

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The Admiral – A Review

Pre-Napoleonic era wars are veiled in obscurity for all but historians and fans of history. So it seems incredible to most people that the Dutch were once a formidable power in Europe, and even developed some important military innovations (it was they who first fielded platoon-sized units, for instance).

This is a well-crafted film that seems to have drawn more from actual history than from convention, cliche` and ubiquitous Hollywood tropes. It highlights a period in the life of Michiel de Ruyter, a 17th Century naval tactician who led the Dutch Navy to impressive victories over the British and French.

Similar to Napoleon Bonaparte over a century later, de Ruyter was a commoner who rose through the ranks to a field-grade commission on his own ability and execution, among a typical European hierarchy built upon caste and dominated by the nobility. During the tenure of De Witt as prime minister of the Dutch Republic, de Ruyter is promoted to admiral, and leads the Dutch Fleet to glory.

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CGI was used to depict a top-down view of the naval battles, which looked like something you might see in a PC strategy game. I consider this a clever idea…but it was fumbled in the execution. It does provide an idea of the opposing forces, but usually does little to depict how the battles played out. As an erstwhile armchair historian, using the CGI strategic view to better effect would have rendered this film a tour de force of audio-visual military history.

I’m far from an afficionado on Netherlands politics in any century, but the political subplot rang true. It also provides an historic lesson relevant to the situation citizens of the USA find themselves in right now (not that anybody from either major side has any interest in learning from history). The Dutch abandoned self-rule by representative government and volunteered for the chains of an oligarchy (a monarchy, on the surface). The film also provides a tiny glimpse of the sort of consequences you will suffer by trading away your freedom for promises of unity, security, ethnic pride, or whatever magic beans strike you as a good trade during a fever-peak of emotion.

The prince of the Netherlands, who would be elevated to king, seems entirely familiar to anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of European royalty (maybe any royalty anywhere). The film makers made it clear enough for adults in the audience what sort of indulgences the prince harbored, but I appreciated that his faggotry wasn’t smeared in our faces to the point that it distracts from the main plot.

It’s a Dutch film, and so most of the dialog is Dutch, with English subtitles.

Phantom Leader

In the third book in the Wings of War series,  Mark Berent has not lost any steam. In fact, some readers think he picks up the pace as the series goes on. In any event, I still maintain that you will not find a more authentic big picture of the US involvement in Vietnam (the air war in particular) in any single non-fiction work. Certainly not in movies (though Go Tell the Spartans is a suprisingly credible depiction of the early days on the ground) or in other fiction ( though Jim Morris’ Above & Beyond is certainly an accurate depiction at the tactical level, from a Sneaky Pete who was there).

Court Bannister was tantalyzingly close to getting his fifth confirmed MiG and making ace, but was yanked from MiG CAP (Combat Air Patrol) over Hanoi and reassigned to strike missions in the Steel Tiger. Now he’s in charge of a “fast FAC” mission, for which he builds a unit out of volunteers for aerial search-and-destroy of trucks and guns along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Special Forces officer Wolf Lochert is back, and as primary a character as ever. Toby Parker is back, too, sobered up and straightened up, but the more responsible he gets, the more he slips to the background. And one of the previously minor characters, Flak Apple, becomes major in this novel, as he becomes a guest at the Hanoi Hilton.

Unfortunately, like too many US citizens, I am so squeamish (and infuriated) at the torture our POWs had to go through in North Vietnam that my instinct was to avoid being informed at all, and I was tempted to skim over the chapters focusing on Flak Apple. But I didn’t. Whoever was responsible for leaving our men over there to suffer and die deserves to burn.

The “fast FAC” was a Forward Air Controller mission flown in fast movers, rather than propellor-driven observation planes–namely, in this case, F-4 Phantoms.

Before reading Berent I didn’t appreciate just how huge a fighter jet the F-4 is. Evidently it weighed more than a WWII B-17 bomber. There’s a whole lot more you will learn from this book, and the series, despite yourself. You’ll be too caught up in a hell of a good story to realize you’re being educated.

Even though Wings of War is a five-book series, I had intended to only read the first three. For some reason I assumed the characters and story would be spent after that, I guess. But they’re still all going strong. I’m in for the whole shebang, reading Eagle Station now, and couldn’t stop if I wanted to.

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Steel Tiger

Number Two in the Wings of War series, this novel gets its name from an air interdiction operation against a segment of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Author Mark Berent was a fighter pilot in Vietnam who also took the initiative to find out what the war on the ground was like. That means his characters/stories have, as a backdrop, a fairly cohesive strategic and tactical overview (such as a strategic concept was, in Vietnam).

SteelTigerpatchJet jock Court Bannister has finished his first combat tour and has managed to earn a slot in Test Pilot School for the second time. That’s a step toward becoming an astronaut, which is his ambition.

Meanwhile, Toby Parker is also stateside, officially earning his wings. His hoity-toity family is pleased with the enhanced status he lends them by having become a hero, but not so pleased with his intentions of remaining in the Air Force. Given his alcoholism and increasingly rebellious behavior, not everone in the Air Force thinks he should stay in, either.

Wolf Lochert, fighting a whole different sort of campaign on the ground, is an unconventional warrior in an unconventional war who is just too unconventional for the typical snooty brass who are overseeing the lose/lose experimental quagmire in Vietnam.

Both pilots are privileged offspring of wealthy parents, but also way too cowboy for their chains-of-command. By saving another test pilot’s life, along with an expensive aircraft, Bannister is judged unfit for the astronaut program. Parker is an outstanding flier, but his reckless antics get him barred from flying fighters. Both of them wind up returning to Vietnam.

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The author, back in the day.

A fatal barroom brawl lands Wolf Lochert in military prison, and his fate appears grim.

From available information, it would seem that Berent was a good pilot. While I wasn’t there, hence can’t confirm or deny, I can confirm that he is a great storyteller. Tom Clancy said Berent spun yarns of “good men in a bad war” and that sums up Wings of War quite well. His three primary characters work within the idiotic constraints they are saddled with, and pursue a victory that is forbidden by Washington.

The author interprets the jargon and explains some technical details which might otherwise confuse some readers; but doesn’t interrupt the story flow long enough to be a nuisance. He’s also got some “character sketches” that will probably resonate with anybody who has served some time in the military.

With all this you get a Soviet MiG pilot, a wartime sting operation, plus glimpses inside the Hanoi Hilton and the Johnson State Department.

Steel Tiger is credible, informative, and great fun to read.