The Sergeant During the Invasion

Today is the 70th anniversary of a day that altered the course of the Second World War…and therefore history. With a brief lull in bad weather, supreme commander of the Allied Forces General Dwight D. Eisenhower took a calculated gamble and launched the greatest amphibious invasion the world has ever seen, to wrestle western Europe back from Nazi Germany.

The night before the invasion, Airborne forces were dropped into Hitler’s “Fortress Europe” to seize crucial bridges that Allied tanks would need for river crossings to break out of the beach head. Conversely, German tanks could have used those same bridges to swarm in and smash the invaders before they ever got organized (lucky for us, Hitler’s meddling kept the Panzer Divisions from being released to do just that).

One of the key cities the invaders had to take and hold was Cherbourg.

Len Levinson’s second novel in The Sergeant series is about the battle for Cherbourg.

It’s D-Day plus three (in the book) and, though conventional Wermacht wisdom had the allies invading across the narrowest point in the English Channel (into Pas de Calais) and in good weather, those crafty Yanks and Limeys have instead landed at Normandy during a brief lull in horrible weather. The German commander in Cherbourg has rigged a gawd-awful amount of explosives in the sewers. Enough to destroy the entire harbor and deny its use to the allies. Without that key harbor, reinforcing and resupplying the invasion force will become very difficult. And, if Hitler decides to release his panzer divisions, the invasion force will probably be crushed against the Channel. Between perdition and the deep blue sea, if you will.

Lucky for the allies, a young German officer who thinks with the wrong head has gotten friendly with a local French girl who knows how to play with both heads quite effectively. The French girl also happens to have a patriotic streak, and is a valuable intelligence asset for the good guys. Through her, the Allies learn of the German plan to destroy the harbor.

Enter chain-smoking, hard-drinking, skirt-chasing, butt-kicking Sergeant Mahoney…

…fresh back to the 23rd Rangers from his cloak & dagger mission with the Maquis. Along with Corporal Cranepool, Captain Boynton, and a handfull of other rangers, he is voluntold to fight his way inside Cherbourg and figure out some way to prevent the demolition.

It’s hard to believe Boynton and his superiors are so dim-witted that storming the German fortress would be the best plan they could come up with. But eventually they wise up and, unfortunately for the rangers behind German lines, the mission devolves literally into the crappiest operation Mahoney can imagine. So crappy that he vows to quit the Rangers and transfer to a line unit if he survives.

There is all the bloody mayhem you should expect from a title in this series, plus the subplot of the German officer and French spy (which provides some good laughs), a groanable episode in which Cranepool mistakes a VD inspection tent for a USO donut tent, and a somewhat longer episode in which Mahoney first impersonates a doctor, then plays doctor with a lonely nurse.

By the end of the book Levinson has nicely set up Mahoney’s transformation back to a line doggie…

…which means reams of gratuitous bayonet combat in subsequent books!

 

I found it a little much that Mahoney himself devised the plan to infiltrate the German fortress, but really that’s the only plot point  I remember that bothered me in the book.

This one is also available as an e-book and for those who enjoy fast-paced war fiction, you can’t go wrong with Hell Harbor.

The Sergeant Behind the Lines

One of these days I need to learn to look at the calendar.  The D-Day anniversary almost snuck up on me. I usually try to post some relevant content during this season, and this year I’ve got a real treat lined up. I am now email pals with Len Levinson, and he has agreed to let me interview him. In the mean time, let me share a little about the series that introduced me to this author, and had quite an impact on me in a few different ways. I’m gonna go chronological for a few titles, I think. Here’s the first.
The title character is Master Sergeant Clarence J. Mahoney, a bruising, brawling hardcorps hardcase who is one of those characters you love to read about (guiltily, perhaps), but who you probably wouldn’t care to associate with in reality. Speaking of reality, this guy is not the kind of soldier who would go far in the post-war peacetime Army, despite his spit & polish proclivities hinted at in this book, and his mercurial egocentric nature. He’s a whoring, hard-drinking savage not good for much of anything besides killing and fornicating. No Neanderthal Switch to turn off until the next war.

Mahoney and his sidekick Corporal Cranepool are introduced to us working with the maquis of the Resistance in German-occupied France shortly before D-Day in 1944. They’ve been dropped into Fortress Europe with other volunteers from the 23rd Rangers because they speak fluent French. (Mahoney also speaks fluent German–evidently this caveman from New York City is a savant when it comes to languages–hence his code name/nickname “the Parrot.”) To preempt redeployment of Wermacht divisions when the invasion takes place, Mahoney and Cranepool are ordered to destroy a crucial railroad bridge.

The Air Force has bombed this bridge to little effect. Ike wants it ruined, and ruined good, post-haste. Mahoney asks for 10 crates of TNT. The French give him two. When he sees the bridge, it’s obvious he can only do minimal damage to it with the ordnance at hand. He decides that the mission could be better accomplished damaging the railroad somewhere else, and a local member of the Resistance cell Mahoney and Cranepool are attached to just happens to be a former railroader.

Gestapo Major Kurt Richter is on the ball, however, and hot on their heels, rallying SS troops from around the region to hunt them down. When the two forces meet, the action is bloody and fast-paced.

I read numbers four-through-nine in the series many years before, and re-read a few several times, but was a little spoiled by the gratuitous frontline infantry combat to read about Mahoney and Cranepool behind the lines pulling off demolition missions while posing as French peasants. It was interesting, when I finally did delve into Death Train, to observe the author’s style shortly after conceiving the character. I don’t mean to say the character evolved much over the series, but how other characters thought of him seemed to (they tend to recognize him for what he is in this first book).

(BTW: Len doesn’t know why the cover artist gave a master sergeant the chevron of an SFC [sergeant first class]. But we are frequently told Mahoney has been busted up and down the ranks a few times.)

 

Later in the series brief mentions are made of Mahoney’s past in New York, but this first instalment brings it into sharper focus. Mahoney was basically a hoodlum who joined the Army in 1934 because he couldn’t make a living elsewhere during the Depression. I personally think such a man would have prospered in the short-term just fine rolling drunks, mugging people in Central Park, or as hired muscle for an Irish gang. Lucky for us pulp addicts, though, three squares a day in uniform must have had more appeal than (eventually) three squares a day in the slammer. He later volunteered for the Rangers because it offered more pay. He stuck with that up to this point because the professionalism of soldiers in an elite unit appealed to him more than the mediocrity of the line doggies.

It’s even more obvious here than in subsequent books what a whoremonger our “hero” is, yet the sexual interludes are not nearly as graphic as they later become. Mahoney’s habit of stealing watches off of KIAs originates here, too, BTW.

This is an engaging commando novel, but is probably my least favorite in the series.

 

Mostly because the character is better suited to conventional combat (of the pulpy persuasion) than this clandestine stuff. There is no need to read the series in sequence. Other than recurring encounters with Richter, the progression of the war, and the deaths of some supporting characters, there is no continuity to keep track of. Each book stands alone just fine.

The Sergeant series is a guilty pleasure, and the cold brutality of the protagonist is perfectly acceptable to most readers because he has been unleashed against the Germans during Hitler’s reign. Len Levinson had a lot of fun writing this series, I suspect. And we can have a lot of fun reading it.

The Greater Good

There’s a lot of stuff happening to America, to the freedoms of those who live here, and the opportunity quotient of those who will continue to live here. None of it is really a laughing matter, yet the perpetrators are just begging to be mocked.

I resisted for as long as I could, but finally just had to weigh in.

GreaterGood2
Faster than a jerking knee… More powerful than a rape accusation… Able to leap to counterfactual conclusions in a single cognitive bound… Look–on the silver screen (and the TV screen, the computer screen…and now your Kindle screen too)… It’s an action movie come to life! It’s a vision of utopia! It’s Womyn!

 

But goose-stepping Obammunists aren’t the only ones facing the business end of my rapier wit. The creative (and not-so-creative) forces behind much of the mainstream superhero and action/adventure  bupkus gets a literary barb or two in my just-released e-book, The Greater Good.

Anybody who knows anything about Hank Brown knows I love me some action/adventure…and superhero stories, too. That doesn’t mean I can’t smack down the hackneyed plot contrivances and ridiculous cliche`s so en vogue these days, though. In fact, my affinity for the genres qualify me to kick them around a bit.

After many missed opportunities and an overall bad experience with KDP Select (the year it debuted), I withdrew all my published books from the program.

I enrolled this book in KDP select (and, having learned the facts rather late, will nonetheless no longer choose DRM for anything I publish, either) because I intend to participate in discounts, promotions and so forth with this kindle-only satirical superhero spoof.  As a matter of fact, the first discount is right now and you can get it absolutely free for a limited time.

I must warn you, though, that you have to be bilingual to truly understand this book. That’s right–you must be fluent in Sarcasm.

A Throwback to High Adventure

All you citizens of the Manosphere who gave up on literature 15 years ago and either spend your down time watching movies or playing video games…you might not have noticed that books are being written for you again.

The resurgence of old-school action-adventure began in earnest about 2010, and I’ve been up to my neck in it. I’m not talking about the stuff that trickles through the TradPub (traditional publishing) gatekeepers from big name authors who still have enough clout to produce something other than chick-lit, urban fantasy or gay/lesbian. This revolution has been taking place among the Indies (independently published authors), and some of it is even better than the action paperbacks of yesteryear (before the TradPub industry drowned in estrogen).

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I am fortunate to have rubbed cyber-elbows with (I think) the majority of authors producing good work in the big daddy genre of action-adventure. Nate Granzow is one of those authors and his latest novel is a humdinger.

Before I get into the nuts and bolts, I should distance Nate’s prose somewhat from my masculist rhetoric. The protagonist in Hekura (one of them, anyway–arguably the main one) is female; and though she is not a pixie ninja (thank-you, Mr. Granzow), I certainly would classify her as a strong character.

Deep in the rainforest of South America, an indigenous tribe (the Yanomani) has encountered a race of monsters they call the Hekura–the evil spirits of dead white men, they assume. But you know how much those superstitious jungle tribes exaggerate. It’s probably just some overblown legend about harmless albino apes that they use to scare children into obedience or something.

Wrong! They are real, grotesque, and plum scary.

It just so happens that a humongous pharmaceutical conglomerate is sponsoring an expedition into the very area where these monsters are rumored to dwell, in search of a medicinal plant with miraculous healing characteristics.

So far we’ve already got some promising ingredients for an adventure yarn–the exotic locale you can only reach by plane, then on foot, a dangerous, mythical antagonist (or whole herd of them, actually), an expedition to find the Holy Grail of medicine…oh, and there’s mercenaries and Third World drug lords, too.

But even with all these elements in the mix, thousands of published authors out there right now would still fumble the ball. Nate Granzow romps all the way to the End Zone unscathed, with aplomb.

As an author, he obviously knows that the way to make a tale like this bigger than the sum of its parts is through memorable characters. I could write a lengthy essay about the dimensionality of his cast, but suffice it to say that it is outstanding. I normally don’t yammer on about how great moral ambiguity is, like it’s the pinnacle of narrative or something. But it is nice to run into sympathetic characters who are not pure as the driven snow. And the hard-drinking, chain-smoking British pilot who shares the spotlight for a while with our heroine has had some…shall we say major moral lapses while trying to earn cigarette money. And the soldier of fortune would normally serve as just another heavy to hiss and boo at while waiting for him to get greased with extreme prejudice…well, circumstances turn things around and you wind up compromising right along with his would-be victims.

One final kudo, and this is probably a minor one for most, but there were fewer typos in this novel than I find in most TradPubbed mass market paperbacks. That contributes to a pleasant reading experience with minimal distractions.

Hekura is well-crafted adventure of a caliber that is timeless, and gets a strong recommendation from me.

The Amazing Spider Mash-Up

I’m going to break convention in this review and give you the good news first. This Spiderman flick has a few things going for it that make it worth a watch despite the bad news.

First and foremost, this one movie accomplishes something that Sam Raimi couldn’t pull off with an entire trilogy: it got the Spiderman character right. When this actor puts the costume on, he closely resembles the Spiderman of the comic books I remember: an incurable smartass; nerves of steel; bubbling over with cocksurity even when doom seems imminent; and a selfless hero in the truest sense of the word.

As Peter Parker, the character was somewhat less canonical…but I don’t mind that so much. (BTW, the Toby McGuire Peter was closer to the high school nerd of the earliest comics.) Frankly, Parker’s personal life in the comics was often so angst-ridden, disastrous and…real…as to be depressing. This Peter Parker is some kind of preppie-hip, though he certainly has his problems. Aunt May is different, too, and I guess that’s fine.

Another point in this movie’s favor is the film makers kept their mask removal fetish in check, for the most part. Spiderman only unmasked himself in public once or twice.

What’s truly amazing about this flick is that there’s not one amazon superninja in it. Maybe they just couldn’t figure out a way to stuff one into the plot. Still, I’m shocked that Gwen Stacy wasn’t revealed at any point to be some world-class master at hand-to-hand combat. In an age when pinkshirt white knight feminist tropes are obligatory, this is a major plus in the film’s favor.

There is one aspect of the film that was unfortunate because of its faithfulness to the source material, and that was the overuse of Spidey’s webs. Each web shooter–about the size of a Hot Wheels toy car, has an unlimited supply of the incredible web material (at least in the comics he occasionally ran out/had to reload), and he uses it for everything.  Maybe the film makers were just so pleased with the special effect that they had to show it off every chance they got. There’s one scene where Spiderman lands on a pipe, straddling it, and uses his spider-strength (nicely displayed earlier when he catches a police cruiser to keep it from crushing a cop) to rip it open. But rather than just grabbing it and tearing it open, he has to shoot his webs at it–from a range of about eight inches.

It’s a lot like Green Arrow’s tendency to shoot arrows (or threaten to do so) when he’s close enough to just clout the bad guys directly.

In the cinematic Spiderman universe, everybody is connected to Oscorp somehow. In this film, suddenly Peter’s father Richard is introduced as a former Oscorp employee involved in intentionally genetically engineering the radioactive spider which would bite Peter years later, turning him into a superhero.

The Osbornes are back, too. And Harry is especially creepy in this movie. I don’t know why they keep going back to the Green Goblin when they have such a largely untapped rogue’s gallery to draw from (in fact, why does there have to be a minimum of two villains per superhero movie anymore?), but here he is again. And he’s actually played fairly well.

BTW, (being careful not to spoil here) there’s a recreation of a famous/infamous (to Spiderman afficionados) confrontation between Spidey and the Goblin, involving Gwen Stacy which plays out in a way that could probably only be pulled off on film, yet which accomplishes the same results. Nicely done.

The biggest negative in this film is what they did to Electro. In a nutshell, they took the Jim Carey Edward Nigma character from one of the awful ’90s Bat-flicks, threw him into a tank full of electric eels and had him come out as Dr. Manhattan from The Watchmen. Only they call him Electro.

The Electro that Spider-fans know was a villain who could shoot lightning out of his hands. That’s plenty dangerous all by itself, and more than a handful for the NYPD, and Spiderman, to deal with. But screenwriters these days evidently don’t have the imagination or talent to tell any kind of story that doesn’t require epic destruction to keep the moviegoers awake.

So rather than a power company lineman, they made him an electrical engineer for…who else? Oscorp. He has some kind of childish fixation on people noticing him. Spiderman saves his life early in the movie and Max (Jamie Foxx) worships him afterwards in a very icky pathetic scene. But his adoration is fickle to say the least–when Spiderman doesn’t behave the way Max thinks he should, love turns to hate.

Electro… Dr. Manhattan…what’s the diff? Nothing, if you know as little about the source material as the screenwriters.

And after the eel attack, “Electro” is telekinetic (his electric bolts don’t just zap people or objects, but can lift them up and move them around), he can levitate, and materialize and dematerialize anywhere he wants. He’s even bald and blue like Dr. Manhattan. I rolled my eyes when he quipped some line about becoming a god, because the Hollywood cookie-cutter had already made him one. They might as well have named him Zeus–though I’m pretty sure the Greek deity couldn’t do all the nifty tricks Jamie Foxx does.

Sometimes it takes a while for me to accept the obvious, but I’m thoroughly convinced now that Hollywood film makers, even when restraining the urge to ram their politics down our throat, are a bunch of shameless hacks incapable of an original idea…and/or have a tremendous contempt for the intelligence of their audience. Take away their special effects and they couldn’t tell a story about anything.

Iron Man Clanks to a Cinematic Halt

Originally posted 2013

It’s a just about universally accepted rule of Hollywood that even the best movies have sequels that are full of suck. If you dodge the bullet on the second one, then the third is just about guaranteed to blow dog. And yet I kept an open mind when laying down a small fortune to treat my family to a theater viewing of the final chapter in the Iron Man trilogy.

Iron Man I and the Avengers, despite their faults, were thoroughly enjoyable and worth the small fortunes paid for those respective family nights.

Unfortunately, this flick followed the sequel rule. Don’t get me wrong—there’s plenty of explosions and other destruction; cool visuals and special effects; witty dialog, and even some character development on the part of Tony Stark. If that’s enough for most moviegoers (and it probably is), then it will go down a winner. Unfortunately, it’s also brimming over with a whole lot of stupid.

Tony Stark has created a whole lot of different Iron Man armor, including the new “Mark 42” prototype. Meanwhile, he is suffering panic attacks.

And a new slimy capitalist is on the scene, making overtures to Pepper Potts (who runs Stark International now, leaving Stark free to tinker). Turns out the slimy capitalist was a slimy visionary in 1999 whom Stark dissed, while enjoying a one-night stand with a chick who just happens to be a leading scientist making breakthroughs in the very same field being pioneered by the slimy visionary: cellular regeneration. (Wait a minute…didn’t Dr. Connors already pioneer the technology when he became the Lizard in both the comics and the Spiderman reboot movie?)

So after humiliating the seemingly innocuous weirdo (played by Guy Pierce), and forgetting about the one night stand, they’ve come back to haunt him. Kinda’ like how Jim Carey as Edward Nigma/the Riddler came back to haunt Bruce Wayne after a perceived slight in one of those awful Batman flicks.

Meanwhile, a terrorist is bombing and killing indiscriminately, punctuating his reign of terror with video clips. He is called the Mandarin (based loosely on the Marvel villain of that name) and he doesn’t just use bombs—he turns human bodies into bombs.

Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) is blasted into a coma by one of the Mandarin’s human bombs. Stark gets real mad. How mad? Try stupid mad. He threatens the Mandarin on national TV and gives out his home address, daring the terrorist to preempt his revenge. (Hey, joke’s on you, Stark: that’s not really Happy Hogan, but Daredevil/Matt Murdock’s buddy Foggy Nelson!)

Okay, there’s like this fetish with Hollywood film makers. I’m not talking about the sick sexual thrill they get from destroying fine automobiles for no reason. But this one’s pretty widespread, too. It has to do with revealing secret identities in superhero movies. Bruce Wayne was ready to tell Vicky Vale he was Batman after one flip in the sack. Now that must have been some hot sex! But he had cold feet about it, so Alfred game him a little nudge by just taking her down into the Batcave. I think at least one person per movie learned Gotham’s Dark Knight was Bruce Wayne up until R’as Al Ghul destroyed the Batcave the first time. Then in this latest Batfilm, Bane exposes Wayne’s secret underground Bat-labrinth for the entire population of Gotham City to find.

I lost count of how many times Spiderman lost or removed his mask on the big screen. Unmasking yourself in public is always a clever method for keeping your identity secret. So is confessing on camera, as Tony Stark did in the first Iron Man film.

So here he goes one better, broadcasting his home address as well. Of course said home is obliterated in a spectacular explosionfest during the chopper attack of the Mandarin’s invincible glowing human bomb henchmen. Ho-hum. I have no sympathy for an alleged genius capable of his unrepentant idiocy.

But did the supervillains of the world really need Tony Stark to tell them his home address on TV for them to figure it out? Why didn’t an attack like this take place right after the dumbass told them he was Iron Man in the first movie? Obviously his home defenses were inadequate to deal with a helicopter assault then or at any other time (not that a helicopter assault was needed to take his California cliff-dwelling, but it looks cool and is a good way to burn up millions of budget dollars renting choppers, shooting rockets, and blowing stuff to smithereens).

Big pretty fireballs everywhere, Pepper Potts almost dies, Stark barely escapes with his life, yada yada yada. Then through some contrived devices Stark winds up in Kentucky with his Mark 42 armor out of commission. But never fear: Stark breaks-and-enters a home to get out of the cold, and it just happens to house a boy genius and a suitable workshop in the basement.

Oh yeah: meanwhile, Rhodie’s moniker has been changed from War Machine to Iron Patriot and he loses his armor after stumbling into an ambush.

As we move toward the big climactic showdown, we find out that Stark’s Iron Man armor may have been destroyed in the attack on his house, but he had more armor stored away in a secret chamber underneath the secret chamber we knew about, and the suits can all act as flying robots when he’s not wearing them. That way the actor can show his purty face as he delivers wisecracks all during the epic fight scene.

I’ll leave the plot alone for now. It wasn’t monumentally stupid, relative to the genre. It was about par-for-the-formula for a superhero movie. Nothing impressive.

Be advised that I read Iron Man comic books well before any Marvel Comics character appeared on the big screen, and I have accepted, for the sake of entertainment, that a millionaire industrialist could build a flying suit of powered armor and, wearing it, fight bad guys and super-bad-guys. Unlikely, okay, but possible in theory. Some of what I’m about to point out, however, strains my suspension of disbelief beyond its tensile strength.

First off, Tony Stark built the Iron Man armor to fit his own body, and yet in this movie it comfortably fits anybody of any size and body shape. Rigid armor (such as the plate worn by the knights in the last days of chivalry) has to be custom made to the body of the person who will be wearing it, otherwise the pinching and scraping will become unbearable in no time, mobility will be severely limited and you might suffer serious injury. This might not threaten suspension of disbelief for most people, so I’ll move on.

Evidently, every piece of the new Mark 42 armor is equipped with rocket motors, invisible unlimited fuel supplies, and guidance systems which will home in on Tony Stark’s body no matter where he is, so that when he wants to become Iron Man, these items will fly through the air (sometimes from Kentucky) and clamp onto his appropriate body part. Oh, but be careful—they fly and clamp onto him really fast, sometimes smacking the hell out of anything that gets in their way.

Assuming such miracle technology were possible, once you cram each piece with the rocket motors, fuel, and electronics needed for this neat trick, where would you fit the circuitry, servos and other stuff you need to make the piece do what it’s supposed to do once it’s on Stark’s body?

Along the same lines is the use of these suits as robots. The internals of a robot would be built differently than the internals of a suit which amplifies the strength of the one wearing it (which Iron Man’s armor has always done). First of all, how would there be room for a man inside a man-sized robot? Secondly, if Stark can control these robots remotely, or put them on bad-guy-fighting-autopilot as he does in the climax, why did he ever put himself inside one to begin with?

Toward the end of this movie, Stark undergoes an operation to remove the shrapnel pressing in on his heart. There’s been no mention of a new breakthrough in medical science, so I guess he’s avoided it up to now simply because he liked the rush of existing millimeters from death. And he likes having a nuclear electromagnet in his chest. Girls dig it. It’s a…wait for it…chick magnet.

The aforementioned slimy capitalist has developed cellular regeneration technology. No, wait, that’s wrong. He’s a capitalist, after all, guilty of trying to make a profit and other evil motives. He didn’t build that—someone else made that happen. So anyway, the technology allows him to turn his henchmen into invincible superninjas. Not only do limbs and organs grow back when wounded, but these guys can do neat glowing tricks. Not only can they glow, but if they glow red enough they can become human soldering irons…or human bombs.

Stark really needs to work the bugs out of his armor, by-the-way, because evidently it can be crippled by the touch of a glowing finger. The glowing finger doesn’t knock out communications, life support, the onboard computer or the super-neato undressing/dressing back up functions. It doesn’t prevent the robotic (?) neck from turning the head. It only prevents Iron Man and War Machine from fighting back. Until, that is, the tension and suspense of the scene has reached a certain level. Then the arms, legs, repulsors and boot jets magically become operative. For a few seconds. Until the hero is rendered helpless again.

As in all the Marvel movies, the acting was good. There were plenty of jokes and humorous dialog, delivered by Robert Downey Jr. with his usual aplomb. The cinematography was equally high-caliber. The special effects were abundant and visually striking.

Style. Flash. Attitude. It’s got it. And that’s enough for a lot of people. If that’s enough for you, you’ll enjoy this movie.

Spec Ops Head to Head 2

But wait–there’s more! (Be sure to check out Part One.)

This time the original (not counting the OSS) specops warriors throw their ego into the ring to show they can trash talk too. That’s right–the SF “Green Berets.”

And in this corner…the new kids on the block…the USMC MARSOC!

Again, this will require the expert analysis of my elite piss contestants review panel. Let’s start with you, Rick.

RICK: Well Hank, not counting the limp-richard wannabes in this video, I just have to say the SF soldiers are totally un-sat. Their haircuts are UNACCEPTABLE! And the face armor? What a bunch of pogues! You gotta hand it to the Marines, though–they always look strac. High and tight, faces smooth as a baby’s fourth point, they’re just squared away.

THAD: I don’t necessarily believe this debate can be decided on the basis of grooming standards alone. That being said, both parties in this video are unshaven and disheveled.

DUANTE: Yo main, ya’ll white boys need to shave that mess, yo. Your hair be stickin’ all out of your faces at whacked angles…look like the Shaggy D.A. or somethin’. And my second point is, this is another racist video. Where the brothers at? This is like a good ol’ boy all white fraternity or somethin’.

SYLVIA: Yes, absolutely. Where are the people of color and where are the female soldiers? Where are the gay, lesbian and transgender soldiers?

RICK: As for the last three categories, I think they all transferred to the Bureau of Land Management. …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: Now, going into this rap battle, the Special Forces have the obvious advantage of experience and reputation, and I think they sort of put MARSOC in their place.

RICK: UNACCEPTABLE! Look, I’ll knock some points off for the Marines’ gay-ass sleeve-rolling techniques, but they hit SF with two devastating shots in quick succession. First the line about force multipliers, then they burned ‘em with the zinger about the National Guard. They drew blood, big-time.

THAD: But come on, now. I thought that was effectively countered with “hey diddle diddle; straight up the middle.”

RICK: What’s wrong with a frontal assault, candy ass? What are you, queer? …Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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

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

SYLVIA: Hey, I didn’t get a “not that there’s anything wrong with that” out of Hank Brown!

HANK: Huh? Oh, sorry. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

SYLVIA: You better watch your ass.

RICK: The point is, I’d PT that pogue into the ground.

THAD: Who’s that–the MARSOC guy?

RICK: Him too. I’d smoke both their asses in the PT pit.

DUANTE: Yo, hey now, let’s get back on point, y’all. 1) this is totally racist, and B) white folks can’t rap for shit! Damn pink toes couldn’t find the beat with a road map, main. And 3) who taught y’all white boys how to handle guns, anyway? Don’t you know you’re supposed to turn the gun sideways?

RICK: Only if you’re shooting with your protective mask on, numb nuts.

DUANTE: Y’all look like a bunch of punks.

SYLVIA: And once again, the only females represented in the video don’t wear uniforms, but bikinis.

DUANTE: That is a ho’s uniform.

THAD: That was a female? I wasn’t sure, with all the tattoos…

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.

RICK: UNACCEPTABLE! Hahahaha!

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.

 

Red-Blooded American Men Examine Pop-Culture and the World