Saturday, April 29, 2006

Watching "United 93"

I went to see the movie United 93 today, and I found the film so realistic that I will now 'remember' the events in the airplane as they were depicted.  I can't tell anyone else how it will affect them - but I will say that I think the movie is very important for all Americans to see, and that it affected me less than I was afraid it would.  I certainly can understand that many people don't wish to have this experience, or at least not in a theater. 
Not saying it was easy to watch - as sometimes it was not.  I watched the events unfold in the various air control rooms, in Manhattan, at the Pentagon, and on flight 93 itself, and sometimes found myself close to hyperventilating with the tension and remembered anguish. One poor man behind us was obviously having a hard time controlling himself, muttering phrases like "Let's Roll" just before it was spoken on screen.  As the movie ended, he shouted "M--- is a Pig" and fled the theater. 
I give the movie makers full credit - there was very little 'Hollywood' feel to the film ... every bit was stark and believable.  As I watched the credits roll, I could see why.  Several people, like Ben Sliney (who ran the FAA Command Center, and ultimately gave the order to ground all air traffic) portrayed themselves.  (Cast list here)  As hard as it might be to watch this movie for some people, I am amazed that these folks could relive the day and 'act' so naturally - a credit to them, and to director Paul Greengrass. 
For me, it's the memories that are important, and my main reason for wanting to see the movie right away.  I wanted to face the shock and disbelief again, to remember how my friend cried at the thought of her sister in NYC and having no way to reach her, and how we held her close so that she knew she wasn't alone.  I knew nothing then of who the enemy was, only that we had been attacked, and something huge had changed. 
I also wanted to see for myself how the movie handled the memory of the people on flight 93.  On that score, I'm pleased.  The passengers and crew are real people, with real fear and uncertainty.  Some want to hold back action, others realize they have to do something.  It's not headliner to the rescue - it's real people deciding that in the end, they'd rather die trying than die without trying.  I hope I never get tested in this way - but I hope if I am, that I do as well.
This is not a happy movie, but it's an important one.  The message is powerful, and we need to send one of our own to Hollywood --- Keep making movies about real heroes!  If we go out in droves to see this movie - they will get the right message.
Other views ...
Smash thinks every adult in America should see the movie.  (I agree)
Varifrank plans to buy a ticket, whether he goes in to watch or not. 
AProudVeteran at The Daily Brief:
It reminded me of that horrible day, and the wonder I felt when I first heard about Flight 93’s bravery. It’s good to be reminded of that. I’m glad I went, even though it was a hard movie to watch.
Sgt. Mom at The Daily Brief:
No, this is not a movie you could be said to enjoy… but it is a movie with something to say… which is that when Americans die, and they are given sufficient warning, a fair percentage of them will choose to go down fighting.
I won't lie to you-- United 93 is the toughest film I've ever sat through, tougher than anything. 
But it was worth it.
Mary Katherine Ham at
I know the movie has a lot of people talking about whether it's appropriate to make money off the story of 9/11, if we're being exploited emotionally, if we're ready for a movie like this.
I didn't feel like the movie was exploitative. There are no big stars saving the day single-handedly. There are many flawed, scared men and women who manage to do something very, very brave, but there also is not a lot of sentimentality.
The movie is stark, unadorned. The story speaks for itself. And, the people of Flight 93 and the rest of the victims of 9/11 deserve to have it told.
(H/T to Allahpundit)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Hilton mistreatment of Fran O'Brien's ... and our Heroes

I am flabbergasted at the incredibly poor judgment of the Capital Hilton's management in their decision to evict Fran O'Brien's, and thus shut down a powerful source of caring for wounded servicemembers.  Soldiers like Chuck Ziegenfuss have found that the free meal is just a part of the caring service and friendship from owners Marty O'Brien and Hal Koster.  And on April 30, it will all end, it appears.  (For a trip through the history of this story, FbL has organized her story links here.)
I understand that the Hilton business has a right to make business decisions on their merit.  But where is the business ethic or merit in lying to their tenants, refusing to deal honestly in the negotiation process, denying the need for proper upgrades and improvements, and then forcing the restaurant into the street with less than 30 days to find a new home?  And since when is it ethical to take credit for the good done through the traditional Friday night free dinners for the wounded and their families?  Their empty offer to host the dinners in their other restaurant (but not to pay for them, they want the sponsors to come along!) is just a PR grab.  For Shame!  Apparently they think we are all stupid, to boot.
The Capital Hilton management made a very poor decision, to be sure.  But the corporate management of the Hilton organization has completely failed to correct the stupidity of their subsidiary, and they have brought shame to the whole corporation.  Plus, they will be removing a much needed place of love and support from the troops and family members.  All this because they couldn't negotiate in good faith, or provide reasonable lead-time for the restaurant. 
Hilton was not high on my list of places - but what little business they might have had from me is now gone. 
What was the line from Forrest Gump?   "Stupid is as stupid does." 
These folks have good ideas, and links on ways to communicate your feelings to the Hilton organization:

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Attending the Milblog Conference "Remotely"

I'm getting over my "Milblog Conference" envy - and still wish I could have attended. The next best thing was watching the live feed on the web, and chatting with other 'remotes' as we watched and listened to the fantastic panel discussions.

John Donovan was there, and provided a bit of live blogging, with pictures! Other Denizens of the Castle present were SWWBO, FbL, Sgt B, Maggie, AFSister and 1SG Keith - a mini Castle meet all by itself!

Watching remotely had its challenges. A few times the A/V feed halted, and those of us on Chat mumbled amongst ourselves until it was restored. I saw Andi of Andi's World, the amazing coordinator of this terrific event, step up to introduce the panel of Carla (Some Soldier's Mom), Carren & Chuck Ziegenfuss (From My Position) and Deb (Marine Corps Moms). The audio feed appeared to be enabled, but no sound was coming through. We missed virtually all of the intro and a bit of the discussion until someone (CJ?) came running up to switch the microphone back on!

I sadly missed the start of the early session, and the end of the last session, so I hope that there will be some recordings available at some point. But every minute that I watched was great, and the chat session online was an interesting parallel to the live discussions. Mr. and Mrs. Greyhawk tried to keep the gang on target during the Q&A sessions, so that questions from the online audience could be forwarded to the panelists. Hmmm - we'll have to get BCR Labs to work on a shock tool that the online moderator can use to curb the chatterboxes.

Sgt Hook has a great AAR, and lacking any reports to the contrary, we are forced to accept his version. Shocking, I must say ... *grin*

I hope another conference takes place, and I really hope that I can attend. The discussions are still going on - and we're inventing the practices as we go. Great job by all involved!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

"Killiards" e-Postal match entry

** Updated 4/26 **

The results of the e-postal match are now up at Mr. Completely's. I ended up 8th in the Rimfire class, out of 12 shooters. Oh, well, as someone noted in the comments at Mr. C's place, it got me out to the range, didn't it?!

** Original post **

Tonight I met up with Bad Cat Robot and a few other right-thinking gun-packing friends at our local shooting range. We had an array of nice toys to play with, and much fun was had terrorizing defenseless pieces of paper. Good friends and cordite - what a great combo!

I was also on a mission to enter one of Mr. Completely's e-Postal matches - and I picked a toughie to start off with ... Killiards.

The match has simple rules - fire 15 rounds per target at 25 feet, put one in each billiard ball shape, 2 targets equal one submission. One point for each circle (multiple hits only score once, and it means you missed some other ball, duh!), add a bonus point for each hit which is in the center ring, for a total possible of 60 points.

The handgun I used was my sweet little 22-caliber SW622 pistol, so this entry goes to the Rimfire (Class 1) group.

Well, I didn't get 60, but I'm not too upset with the outcome. My total score = 27 points for the two targets ...

Target #1: 10 hits + 6 bonus = 16

Target #2: 8 hits + 3 bonus = 11

By the way - the rules required an offhand (no support) standing position for one target, and allowed support and any position for the second.

Yes, I numbered them for the order in which I shot them. Yes, I stood unsupported for the first, and leaned against the booth for support on the second. Yes, I did better without the wall ... go figure.

By the way - the match is open until Monday night, the 24th. You can enter once in each Class as well - so check it out!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Much to read, so little time

The blog forces continue to mass on the Fran O'Brien's v. Capitol Hilton story.  So many others are keeping track, like Blackfive, Grayhawk and my fellow Denizenne, FuzzybearLioness, that I can barely read fast enough.   There's now a petition online, taking the Hilton to task for their shabby treatment of the restaurant.  If you haven't signed it, please take a moment to read it, and if you agree - please sign it! Thanks to Chris Dickson for reminding me to link! 
This weekend marks the first Milblog Conference in our nation's capitol, which means hundreds of milbloggers, military (active and retired), and supporters will be getting together in Washington, D.C.  Guess where they won't be staying?  However, there's been talk of getting together at Fran O'Brien's to show support - makes me even sorrier that I can't attend the conference!
Someone sent me a link today to Victor Davis Hanson's column "In the Eye of the Beholder", which I posted to the H&I Fires post at the Castle.  Perception is Reality, as they say.  Go read Mr. Hanson - you won't be sorry.
Sgt Hook has the latest from Russ Vaughn in response to the Generals sniping at SecDef Rumsfeld, and he's running a caption contest to boot!
Looking for more good reads?  Don't miss these sites:
  • Check out the new Milblog Wire news site - complete with RSS feed.  Tell your local newspaper about it - No More Excuses f  (H/T to Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive)
  • Michael Yon has a new FrontLine Forum - stories straight from the troops.  Also check out Michael's main site for updates from in country.
  • The Officer's Club blog is now Op-For, John and Charlie are still manning the electrons.
  • Check out the daily round-up from the Grayhawks at Mudville Gazette.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Spread the Word - Save Fran O'Brien's

The Milblog world is abuzz over the treatment of Fran O’Brien’s, a restaurant  whose owners have demonstrated pure and generous support for the wounded troops for several years by serving free steak dinners on Friday nights.  We need to show our support for the restaurant, and its owners – Hal and Marty, and (politely) express concerns to the Hilton Hotel which is apparently set to throw the restaurant out on it’s ear.


Castle Argghhh! has all the contact details and links.  Also, check out Chuck Z’s post about his own Friday night steak dinner at Fran’s.  Others with posts are:

Mudville Gazette

Fuzzilicious Thinking

Andi’s World

Neptunus Lex


Please spread the word!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Must reads

You need to visit Sgt Hook and read No Tears in Heaven. Really.

Chuck has started a new Meme at From My Position ... but this one requires a little more thought than most. Make sure that you read the comments as well.

If you hadn't already noticed, Michael Yon is headed back to the Middle East. Check out his post from Bangkok.

Over at Something... and Half of Something, Linda shows us the card that Cynthia McKinney keeps playing. Heh!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Birthday meme (3-2-1)

No, it's not my birthday. Go to Wikipedia and look up your birth day (excluding the year). List three events, two births and one death, including the year.

I found a lot of entries to choose from - some of them I knew, most I didn't...


1861 - American Civil War: Richmond, Virginia, is named the capital of the Confederate States of America.
1945 - World War II: VE Day. German forces agree to an unconditional surrender.
2005 - The new Canadian War Museum opens, in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of V-E Day.


1884 - Harry S. Truman, President of the United States (d. 1972)
1926 - Sir David Attenborough, British television presenter and producer
1947 - H. Robert Horvitz, American biologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine


1988 - Robert A. Heinlein, American science fiction writer (b. 1907)

See there - I had no idea that my favorite sci-fi writer died on my birthday. Cheerfully lifted from Echo9er.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Future shock

Go read author Dan Simmons' April 2006 message. You owe it to yourself.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

UW / Medal of Honor resolution passes

In the end - they did the right thing. The UW student senate has amended and approved Resolution R-12-26 : A Resolution Calling a Memorial for UW Alumni awarded the Medal of Honor. Great news!


THAT we desire the placement of a memorial to honor those University of Washington alumni who have been awarded the Medal of Honor, and

THAT the memorial will incorporate each individual so that all who come here in future years will know that the University of Washington produced five of this country's bravest citizens and that we as a community hold this fact in high esteem, and

THAT the memorial shall be placed in a location agreed upon by the administration of the University of Washington and the student body, and

THAT funding for the memorial will be acquired from private donations and collected by representatives of the University of Washington, be they administrators or students, and

THAT additions or modifications be made to the memorial in honor of future University of Washington alumni recipients of the Medal of Honor upon arrangement of necessary funding.

(emphasis mine)

There are five UW alumni who have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, and who are to be named upon the memorial:

  • Col. (then Maj.) Gregory Boyington, USMC (Class of 1934)

  • 1LT Deming Bronson, USA (Class of 1914)

  • Brig. Gen (then Maj.) Robert Galer, USMC (Class of 1935)

  • 2LT Robert R. Leisy, USA (Class of 1968)

  • PFC William K. Nakamura, USA (non-graduate, left the UW in 1942 to join the Army)

Now the fund raising must begin. I'll post any news here whenever I have new info. If anyone is aware of specific fund-raising for this memorial, let me know in comments.

When this story first became public, a "Pappy" Boyington memorial fund was created to provide scholarships for students who are Marine Corps veterans or children of Marine Corps veterans. If you are interested in donating to that good cause, you can contact the UW Foundation here.

Congratulations to the student senators, they are continuing the mission.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Maybe they'll listen to Bill Cosby

I have great respect for the way Bill Cosby speaks out on public issues. He isn't afraid to say what needs to be said, even when it counters the common thread out of the black community.

Bill Cosby tells New Orleans blacks to reject crime
By Russell McCulley

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Entertainer Bill Cosby urged New Orleans' black population on Saturday to cleanse itself of a culture of crime as it rebuilds from the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina last year.

Cosby, whose criticism of some aspects of modern African-American culture has stirred controversy in recent years, told a rally headed by black leaders that the city needed to look at the "wound" it had before Katrina struck.

"It's painful, but we can't cleanse ourselves unless we look at the wound," Cosby told the rally of about 2,000 people in front of the city's convention center.

"Ladies and gentlemen, you had the highest murder rate, unto each other. You were dealing drugs to each other. You were impregnating our 13-, 12-, 11-year-old children," he said.

"What kind of a village is that?"

He is reminding the community that their problems were home grown, and started long before the hurricane arrived and the levee broke. So this is the chance for the leaders in the community to take charge and show their neighbors how it is done.

Maybe Chuck is right, and there really is a FEMA Gold Ticket ...


Of course, it's not fair to pick on New Orleans. They are just one symptom of the whole disease. I was simultaneously laughing and crying while I read the story of 'Hector' at Parkway Rest Stop. It's meant to be tongue in cheek - but the teeth are sharp...
Well written, Jim! And thanks to Sgt Hook for the hat tip.