Welcome back, comrades. I got busy with work and real life, so this little hobby took a backseat over the past few months.
Just as well, it was a blessing in disguise. The break gave me a chance to collect my thoughts, freshen my approach and reboot this little conduit to America’s proletariat. The time “off” allowed me to develop a few thoughts I want to share. If Comrade Lin were still alive, he’d advise you to listen closely, lest you wind up like him. Oy-y-y…
- The true nature of ISIL: After hearing the bitter voices in those ransom videos, I can only come to this conclusion: The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) primarily consists of hipsters irate over barista jobs that only pay minimum wage. Strip off those ski masks and black pajamas and you’ll find more skinny jeans, mohawks, nipple rings and tattoos than in your local grade school’s teachers’ lounge. When they signed up to help establish a caliphate, they probably thought they were taking a study-abroad trip. In any case, I’m sure their parents are elated that they’re out of the house and found a purpose in life. I’m happy they’re no longer at my local coffee bar, soaking up free Wi-Fi bandwidth by binge watching Serial and sending SnapChats.
- Bobby dances: I used to think Bobby Jindal was a breath of fresh air in American politics. Then a few days ago, I saw video footage of the Louisiana governor on stage with a headset microphone, pacing back and forth in front of a groovy band, looking like a shorter, skinnier version of Tony Robbins. This aligned with his call for a “spiritual revival” in America and – let me guess – he’s just the guy to lead it? Where did the daring ideas and semi-honesty go? It’d be nice to see a presidential candidate who refuses to pander. Maybe his name is Chris Christie.
- ‘Unbreakable’ Gaps: The wife and I go to the movies about twice a year. We’re too busy, parking almost always sucks, and watching the latest on DVR or Netflix is so much easier. This year, those two will likely be “Unbreakable” and “American Sniper.” For the former, the epic story of World War II survivor Lou Zamperini long deserved to be told on the big screen. However, I was disappointed that the movie (produced and directed by Angelina Jolie) omitted two big factors in Zamperini’s life – (1) his difficult transition to “regular” life after coming home from WWII (his bouts with alcoholism, fights with his wife, nightmares of captivity and thoughts of suicide could easily be taken from this generation’s war veterans) and (2) his born-again Christian conversion, which he credited with paving the way for him to forgive and meet his brutal Japanese captors decades later. The film did a nice job of depicting his survival at sea and terrible imprisonment, but could have lived up to its title by serving as a canvas for his struggles after the war.
- From Pretty Boy to ‘Sniper’: While we haven’t gotten a chance to see “American Sniper” yet, I’ve been impressed with star Bradley Cooper’s evolution from the douchey pretty-boy fiance in “Wedding Crashers” to his star turn as the manic Pat in “Silver Linings Playbook.” I’m also amazed at how polarizing the movie has become. If the value of a film is the amount of dialogue it generates about the topic, maybe Clint Eastwood got it right – as he did with “Flags of Our Fathers” and the companion “Letters from Iwo Jima.”
- ‘Super’ Boring: There are a couple of sports dead zones during the year, when a big event (including the Super Bowl and Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game) is preceded by a day or a week of irrelevant games that fail to quicken my pulse beyond a state of rest. A few days ago, I watched a 20-minute press conference about Tom Brady’s deflated balls in between a couple of lopsided college basketball games. Last night, I witnessed Michael Irvin twerk on the sideline of the Pro Bowl, which looks more like a flag football game. The NFL needs to get rid of the two-week period between the conference championships and the Super Bowl – let the drama build to a natural crescendo instead of manufacturing hype with marginal, coma-inducing results on the field.
- No News is Good News: I check this website every couple of weeks. Scroll down to find the casualty releases for U.S. service members killed in theater, whether in combat or by accident. The last posting was made on 14 December 2014, when two soldiers were killed by an IED in Parwan, Afghanistan. Their names are Sergeant First Class Ramon Morris and Specialist Wyatt Martin.
- Since that day, there has not been another in Iraq, Afghanistan or any of the other active theaters of operation (that we know about, anyway). Wins strung together make a streak – one that most of us can get behind.
- I’m not naive. Current events suggest we’re closer to winter than spring. But that’s 43 days and counting. I hope to keep counting for a while.