Just a Heads Up

As of today, I’ve received the initial approval for the Amazon Associates program. Currently, the book and movie links in the Catch-22 entry link to my Amazon associate account.

The way the program works is I link books, movies, etc in my blog posts and if you buy a copy from the link, I get a small referral commission. That commission, in turn, helps to fund my writing and reading habits for future entries here.

Additionally, over the coming days, I will be switching older article links from Barnes and Noble to the Amazon Associates program links. So, if you get a flood of page updates, my apologies ahead of time.

Clipart stolen from Clipartmax.

Catch-22

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Note:
I will avoid spoilers here and request that any comments remain spoiler free as well.
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Yesterday I watched the new Hulu mini-series version of Catch-22. The book, Catch-22, has always been one of my favorite examples of absurd literature. Until this past Friday, we’ve had to settle for the original 1970 film version of Catch-22 to experience it as a piece of the theater of the absurd. Well, not any more.

Unlike the previous film version at only two hours, the mini-series format gives the director, George Clooney, a full six hours to do a much better job of following book and including more of the insanity that makes Catch-22 one of the icons of the absurd.

This production is fantastic and much better than the 1970 film. Also, this verion doesn’t shy away from the satire and insanity and the goriness of war that Heller made a central theme of the book. This is, by far, the best version of this story and the best way to experience this story outside of reading the book itself.

The only major change that sticks out in this version is the ending. The ending of this version is a bit of a surprise and leaves even more questions than the 1970 movie and the the original book… which was always Heller’s intent.

If you have a Hulu account, definitely check this out. If you don’t have a Hulu account or have been contemplating creating one, this series is definitely worth it.

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Note:
I again request that any comments remain spoiler free.
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Apologies

My apologies to everyone who follows this blog and just received what looked like an avalanche of spam. I planned for those story pieces to find their way on here and forgot to post them previously.

In addition to telling the story of my own mental health, I always intended for this blog to feature various writing pieces that I’m particularly happy with, even if the intended recipient was not.

Clipart stolen from Clipartmax.

Five Senses on a Maintenance Pad

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This piece was submitted to a veteran-oriented writing publication in 2018. It didn’t place.

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Friends and coworkers who went to Saudi Arabia before me always said, it’s not quite hell but you could see it from there.  I was of the opinion that if this wasn’t hell, it was a pretty good substitute.  I had to double up gloves just to be able to touch the dark green painted steel surfaces of the LOX (liquid oxygen) cart I was working on because of the heat of the Saudi spring.

A loud scream filled my ears as a fighter closed in over where the concrete maintenance pad was.  The smell of burning jet fuel filled my nose.  The smell and sound causing me to look up towards the north.

I looked up to see a standard air force grey F-16 flying in from the north with all of its mounted weapons and fuel tanks missing.  Every fighter that took off every day from Prince Sultan Air Base (PSAB) was loaded for bear with weapons and loaded for a bear hunt with external tanks.  Sometimes they came back missing a few weapons, but this was the first time I’d seen one come back with the racks completely empty.

As the small grey jet flew over my location, the thrust of it’s engines kicked up the loose sand still mobile from the sand storm that sandblasted the base yesterday.  Nothing like the taste of desert sand mixed with jet fuel and parts of scorpions and camel spiders.

I ran over to where my radio was sitting on the control panel of a nearby LIN (liquid nitrogen) cart on the opposite end of the maintenance pad and picked it up just in time to hear the IFE (in flight emergency) call on the maintenance channel and the distant sirens of the fire trucks and ambulance headed towards the flightline.

Questions flew through my head, did Saddam finally decide to give us a fight?  Did we have enemy jets inbound?  What scared the pilot enough for him to drop or jettison everything on his weapon racks?

After the plane landed and the maintenance channel cleared the IFE, I had my initial answer.  The next immediate call was for fuel and ammo technicians to report to debrief.  After that, word got around the maintenance areas quickly. 

Somewhere in the desert between the Saudi and Iraq border were quite a few missiles and a fuel tank, lost after being jettisoned by a pilot who was way too new and panicked when he experienced his first SAM (surface-to-air missile) radar-lock.

Clipart stolen from Clipartmax.

Future Mascots for Professional Sports Teams

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This piece was submitted to a veteran-oriented writing publication in 2018. It didn’t place.

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After many years of debate and discussions about the offensive mascots for some professional sports teams, Major League Baseball, the NFL, the NBA, and the NHL joined together in a joint press conference to announce an effort to eliminate any and all potentially offensive mascots.  The first move by each league immediately tagged Native American-themed teams for changes.

After that swift move, the leagues began internal discussions about how to not offend fan bases and discovered that many more teams required renaming. 

Because of objections rumored to come from Islamic communities, all mascots featuring crusaders, knights, and templars are now flagged for new names.  Additionally, victims of and the descendants of victims of vikings, pirates, and other barbaric tribes have expressed concerns about teams following those naming schemes, all of which are now identified for redesignation.

Allergy sufferers voice questions about bees, yellow jackets, and vegetation-based names causing the leagues to point at those for mascot changes as well.  PETA and other animal rights activists suggested that animal mascots were giving the public an unhealthy fear of those animals as well and those should be eliminated as well, which the leagues also agreed to out of fears of violence. 

Military themed names were found to be objectionable by peace activists and patriot labeled teams made convicted traitors Manning and Bergdahl nervous and require relabeling.

Colorblind activists found color-based mascots offensive to those who are unable to view the color spectrum.

Monsters, aliens, and mythological and cryptozoological creatures were deemed by pseudoscientists to be potentially offensive as well.  The alpha centaurians and sasquatch also voiced objections, so those names are right out.

Mascots based on state and regional names are also identified for relabeling initiatives due to objections voiced by residents of Colorado who insisted that the failures of teams from Denver should not be used to degrade the rest of Colorado residents.

In a joint statement at the end of their press conference, Major League Baseball, the NFL, the NBA, and the NHL have announced that all professional sports teams shall be identified solely by the city in which they play in and the sport they participate.  For example, the St Louis Cardinals and St Louis Blues will now be identified as St Louis Baseball and St Louis Hockey, respectively. 

The leagues expect this new naming scheme to remain in place for a full two to six weeks or so before additional unexpected objections emerge and require the whole plan to be scrapped.

Clipart stolen from Clipartmax.

Pork on the Saudi Menu

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This piece was written for the local VA Creative Arts Festival in 2018. It took 2nd place in the “humorous poetry” category.

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Beef, chicken, pork again
Same menu in Saudi everyday
Isn’t pork forbidden by Islam
I’ve never seen a pig here anyway

Same menu in Saudi everyday
Maybe it’s camel or scorpion
I’ve never seen a pig here anyway
Haven’t seen cows or chickens

Maybe it’s camel or scorpion
Mike always gets the grilled cheese
Haven’t seen cows or chickens
Maybe Mike’s onto something

Mike always gets grilled cheese
Isn’t pork forbidden by Islam
Maybe Mike’s onto something
Beef, chicken, pork again

Clipart stolen from Clipartmax.