Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! My fiancee and I spent a few days with her family in Kentucky and we had a great time. Many thanks to Lori and Marty for hosting us and making us feel so special!

Below is a cool vid from Baghdad. Enjoy!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hunting Bad Guys in Baghdad

A great article by Michael J. Totten on soldiers hunting one of the most dangerous terrorist leaders in Iraq:

The tip-off came in over the phone late at night when the terrorist leader's meeting was almost scheduled to be finished. By the time everyone had their gear and was ready to go, we had seventeen minutes or less to drive across a portion of Sadr City and break down the door before the meeting was over.

We ran to the Humvees.

“Go with Sergeant Gonzales,” Captain Looney said to me. “When we dismount, catch up to me and stay on me.” He looked angry all of a sudden, but mostly he was just being serious. Any of us might be killed in less than an hour.

Our convoy of Humvees roared down Baghdad's streets in the dark without headlights. I checked my watch. No time to waste. We had eleven minutes to catch the bastard before his meeting was scheduled to end. Hopefully he and his pals were on “Arab time” and would hang out and drink tea for a while before heading out.

You can read the rest "here".

PROPS: To BLACKFIVE

POTUS Uses Matrix Moves to Avoid Shoes

Well, we knew it was only a matter of time before legendary boxing promoter Don King weighed in on POTUS' Matrix-like moves:

The boxing guru was so impressed with Bush's shoe evasion tactics over the weekend, that he gave a statement to TMZ saying, "Bush has unbelievable reflexes ... he can stick and move like a boxer!"

The Matrix Reloaded:



The Seattle Mariners could use that reporter's arm in their bullpen.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

My perfect Christmas gift:



PROPS: To Ron

The Dark Knight: Coming Back to a Theater Near You

Very good news for us Gotham City fans. The Dark Knight will be back on the big screen January 23rd:

Warner Bros. has announced that they will be re-releasing The Dark Knight nationwide on January 23rd, effectively guaranteeing that the film will become the fourth of all time to take in more than $1 billion in worldwide box office.

Yep, only a month and a half since the DVD debut, one of the greatest movies ever released returns. This Bat signal will not only light up the night-time skies but also energize Oscar voters.

Lets hope Heath Ledger gets his much-deserved Oscar for his portrayal of The Joker. What Ledger did in this movie was remarkable--he not only made The Joker a heinous villian but did so with glimpses humor while maintaining a scary persona.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

'The Unit' News

'The Unit' is in reruns the next couple of weeks, but TV Guide provides a few news updates on the CBS TV series:

Sharon of Sharon Bialy/Sherry Thomas casting has been moving in warp drive trying to cast David Mamet's up-coming script that requires 21 guest actors before the first day of shooting. She's used to the challenges of casting for The Unit. Like finding an actor who can speak Pashto, an Afghanistan language, and who can also ride a horse. This was needed in "Shadow Riders," which followed the Unit's quest to deliver a bride to a groom in order to barter a truce between warring Afghanistan tribes...

Sharon says that shooting The Unit is like shooting an eight-day movie. "The thing I'm proud of is the level of excellence that's sustained on the show. Editing to writing... every department is on a level of excellence sustained over four years. It starts at the top with Shawn and David. There is a level of trust with them. They treat you as artists. You are valued. You want to pay them back by doing a great job. If you bring up an actor they've never heard of before and you vouch for them, they will listen." When they needed someone with authenticity and weight to play the African dictator in the "Force Majeure" episode, Sharon tugged on the vast fishing net of her photographic memory and pulled up Isaach De Bankole. De Bankole, little known in the States, is a French speaking Ivory Coast-born award-winning actor in France.

Sharon's keenness in finding the right person for the right part often comes back to her lesson's from repertory theater where you can see an actor in a wide variety of roles in the course of seasons, where you can " see his depth and range". This is what led Sharon to suggest Michael McKean for last week's episode, "Misled and Misguided." McKean beautifully played the official from the Department of Defense who believes tech intelligence trumps field logic.

And Michael McKean (pictured above with Dennis Haysbert) is the same guy who played Lenny on TV's Laverne & Shirley.

An Early Christmas Present



PROPS: To Flopping Aces

Taps

Present, Arms.


From The History Place:

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Sunday, December 7, 1941

Above -- The USS Shaw explodes during the Japanese air raid. (Photo credits: U.S. National Archives)

Sunday, December 7 - Washington D.C. - The last part of the Japanese message, stating that diplomatic relations with the U.S. are to be broken off, reaches Washington in the morning and is decoded at approximately 9 a.m. About an hour later, another Japanese message is intercepted. It instructs the Japanese embassy to deliver the main message to the Americans at 1 p.m. The Americans realize this time corresponds with early morning time in Pearl Harbor, which is several hours behind. The U.S. War Department then sends out an alert but uses a commercial telegraph because radio contact with Hawaii is temporarily broken. Delays prevent the alert from arriving at headquarters in Oahu until noontime (Hawaii time) four hours after the attack has already begun.

Islands of Hawaii, near Oahu - The Japanese attack force under the command of Admiral Nagumo, consisting of six carriers with 423 planes, is about to attack. At 6 a.m., the first attack wave of 183 Japanese planes takes off from the carriers located 230 miles north of Oahu and heads for the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor.

And at 7:02 a.m. we all know what happened next.

Order, Arms.

Xerox: "Let's Say Thanks"

Another American businesss is doing a great job of saying "Thanks" to our servicemen and women serving all over the world during this Holiday Season.

At this Xerox home page you can select a postcard (like the one below) to send to our troops, personalize a message in it, and just hit "Send". That's it. Easy.

Now go visit the Xerox web page and send a message of support and thanks to our troops. And thank you to Xerox.

PROPS: To Jeannie

Saturday, December 6, 2008

"Danger close"

Not much set-up is required for this video.

Two A-10 Warthogs are being called in for air support of friendlies on the ground in Afghanistan. Listen to the calm demeanor of the A-10 lead pilot as he does his job....very professional at all times. Also hear the voice of the commander on the ground calling in the airstrikes so close to his position the A-10 pilot advises "I'm looking at danger close now". The commander on the ground understands and still needs ordinance dropped so badly near his position he gives the A-10 pilot his "commander's initials", acknowledging the strike could be grave to himself and his troops.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Update: "The Unit" TV Ratings

For all you fans who enjoy your Sunday night dose of watching "The Unit" on CBS, here's an update on our favorite snake eaters:

Four seasons later, The Unit is still The Unit. It is not a big hit (although it averaged at #14 on the ratings during its first season), but it isn’t an embarrassing failure either. It’s just there, cruising along, although the change of time slot for the current season put some viewers in a little panic frenzy about its future. It’s doing what it does best, and the expectations aren’t really pitted against them.

But the show’s got a dedicated following, and the move to its current Sunday night time slot hasn’t made much of a dent on the ratings. It’s in a pretty comfy position—nobody really worries about it, and nobody bothers about it. (But don’t take me wrong: the fans care, of course.) The question is pretty simple: is The Unit underappreciated?

Hell, yes! I'm sure the vast majority of "The Unit" fans are ones with military experience. I also bet there's a 10-15% of viewers of this show that are just patriotic Americans who can accept and understand the real threat to our nation posed by terrorists. But a much larger percentage of Sunday viewers would rather skip the military realism and combat depiction in favor of comedy or sports.

"The Unit" is not family hour and finding a better time slot might be difficult. I know the producers of this show are trying to get more female viewers and are using "The Unit" wives in more episodes (but in very unplausible situations I might add). While NYPD Blue and ER prove that realism and hard-core scenes can lead to blockbuster ratings, both those shows focussed more and more on the relationships between the main characters and new cast members. This is where I think "The Unit" needs to move.

The article picks up on a few land mines the show still needs to navigate:

Is it the realism? Maybe some people who aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of the military are a little hesitant to touch it. Maybe some have been turned away, but it isn’t much of a worry. With people sticking, there’s definitely some people who appreciate the approach—perhaps subdued, but it’s hard to explain—and are sticking to it every night.

Maybe it’s just the circumstances. There is such a thing as the darling of the press, after all, and you can’t help but think that too much attention is given to some, and too little attention on others. Or they just don’t notice it. (I’ll hint at football again.)

And there's this eye poke deservedly at CBS:

It’s hard to find updates on the show, and the little information for a certain episode that you’re getting isn’t enough to fill a couple of paragraphs.

Nail, meet head of the hammer.

Progress

U.S. combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan have dropped to the lowest combined level since the United States began fighting the two wars more than five years ago. Good news and shouldn't be much of a surprise to folks who have been following the success of the surge in Iraq and our recent successful airstrikes in the Afghanistan region.

Eleven American servicemembers died in combat in the conflicts in November. Seven others died in non-hostile incidents. The highest monthly total for combat deaths in both wars was 129 in November 2004.

Security in Iraq has improved dramatically over the past year, despite a number of high-profile bombing against civilian targets in recent weeks.

And more good news out of Iraq:

“If you look at the numbers of (Iraq) attacks overall, they are much, much lower than they have ever been since ... 2003,” Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin, the No. 2 ranking U.S. commander in Iraq, told reporters Wednesday in Baghdad.

You can read the entire article "here".