Saturday, April 23, 2011

Movie Review: The King's Speech

Bottom line up front:  This is a great flick, but you should watch it during the day.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, despite it being a bit of a slow starter.  The subtle humor wasn't so subtle that I didn't get it, and it was a moving piece with true historical significance.   

Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush did a wonderful job, and they are to be lauded for their portrayals of difficult characters.  

I found myself rooting for the main character throughout, and was emotionally moved at the end.  

This movie is not action-packed, so don't expect it to be.  It is, however, interesting and worthwhile.  I found this flick to be worth my time and would recommend it with enthusiasm as a daytime or early evening diversion.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Book Review: In the Company of Heroes by Michael Durant

 Chief Warrant Officer Michael Durant was piloting a Special Operations Blackhawk helicopter over Somalia when he was shot down on October 3rd, 1993 and subsequently captured by the forces of Somali warlord Mohamed Aidid.  This book is Durant's recounting of his time in hell.

This book impressed me with it's accuracy and with Durant's modest writing style.  He doesn't praise himself nearly enough, which is refreshing.  He does, however, sing the praises of those that he served with, especially those that gave their lives trying to save him.  

This is a powerful story, and the book is very well done.  It sheds a small sliver of light onto the dark world of special operations, and it illustrates the bonds that warriors have.  Durant's memories and notes come alive in ways that will make you cringe one moment, and laugh the next.  He's got a talent for telling a story.

I recommend this book with enthusiasm; it's well worth your time.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Movie Review: Hereafter

Bottom line up front:  Yawn.  This one is a sleeper.

I'd love to tell you how this movie ends, but I cannot.  Neither my wife, nor I, could stomach this one to the end.  We turned the damned thing off and watched the Discovery Channel for a while before going to bed.  It was that boring, really.   

I kept waiting for something remarkable to happen with the plot, but it just didn't materialize.  This movie is boring with a capital B.  

Don't waste your money or time on this one.  Perhaps when it is on cable, you can watch it before bedtime.  It would certainly help you sleep.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Government Shutdown and the Military

The potential government "shutdown" is a disgrace.  It's embarrassing as hell.  Each side blames the other for what should never have happened in the first place.

Let us backtrack a bit.  When was the budget originally supposed to be finalized?  I'll give you a hint:  It's due to be implemented before the start of the new fiscal year.  Still confused?  Try October 1st, 2010.  Who was in charge of (had a majority in) both chambers of Congress then?  Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Now we find out that our military will stop getting paid.  Does anyone else see the absurdity of this?  Members of Congress must get paid; it's in the Constitution.  Our military does not have that protection, despite the protection that the military provides to those same members of Congress. 

Luckily, I have enough savings set aside to get through this mess (for a while anyway), but many young families do not.  Many families that signed on for the sacrifices that come with military service are going to be left short. They probably thought that they could rely upon our government to hold up their end of the bargain.

Please write to your representatives, and even your unresponsive Senators, and tell them that they need to get off of their collective asses and do the job that we hired them to do. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Life Lessons, Good and Bad

I had a neat experience at work yesterday: I sat on a panel of Marines that were charged with trying to explain to a young Corporal why his unprofessional Facebook post was a bad idea.  I won't go into specifics, but let's just say that the lad had tactlessly whined about a certain group of Marines, and we assembled a panel of senior Marines that closely reflected that same grouping...poor guy. 

It was an excellent time to explain to him something that I occasionally lose sight of:  Every human being represents an opportunity to learn a lesson, be it good or bad.  Time for me to wax philosophical again...

I've mentioned before that my wife is an amazing woman; I'll go ahead and echo that again here.  She's an optimist, and I admire that.  I'm woefully short of optimism most of the time, as a result of my more "realist" approach to life (that's the code word for pessimist).  She tends to see the good in people at times when I cannot.  That leads me into the nucleus of this post, which is that we should value even that which we know is bad; it serves a useful purpose.

We often spend enormous amounts of time griping and whining about those that we disagree with or don't like; that's human nature in its basest form.  We don't seem to be very good at stopping and realizing that we should look to the advantage that those people bring us.  Instead of saying that you have to work or live with so-and-so, you should be saying that you get to work with them; it's an opportunity to learn. 

Some people spend their entire lives as a negative lesson, or an example of what not to do.  You've undoubtedly seen the demotivational posters about that, right?  Why spend your time complaining about that?  Why not spend your time learning from it?  So what if you've got a crappy boss; use that as a lesson on how not to lead when you get promoted into his or her position! 

If only we could follow that advice, right?  That's where my wife comes into play; she's far better than me (and most people I think) at seeing the silver lining in a grey cloud.

I just have to keep reminding myself that every negative person I meet is not a detractor to my life, but a useful addition.  Here's to hoping that we can all get a little better at following this simple lesson.