Archive for May, 2005

  NMPS Movie List Review

Posted by Yankee Sailor on 31May05.

The Phibian memed (is that a word?) me the other day, and made an aside that he thought those of you surfing the sphere should have an idea of what’s on the Navy Motion Picture Service’s movie list. There are over 600 movies currently on the list, so I won’t innundate you with the whole thing, but here are some highlights (and lowlights).

Enough Already!:

- Blade 1, 2 & 3. The first problem is that they’ve got Wesley Snipes. The second problem is they’re played like the DVDs are on “repeat.”
- Fast and the Furious. Once a month should be enough for anyone.
- Full Metal Jacket. Great film, but a dead horse.
- Goodfellas. Good movie, but even the Sailors that reported in April know the lines already.
- I Know What You Did Last Summer (because I’ve seen it a million times…).

    Movies that can’t be deleted fast enough:

    - 13 Ghosts. Stupid, stupid, stupid. By the end I was hoping that everyone would die. Tony Shaloub ought to be embarassed.
    - Clueless. An adaptation of the Bard, or “Shakespeare for Dummies.”
    - Con Air. Think FBI agents flying cobras and you can imagine just how dumb this movie is.
    - Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Requesting this movie would violate the DoD “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Even our women aren’t interested.
    - Fighting Seabees. Okay, this one will probably ruffle some feathers, but like any good XO, I don’t care. I know it’s got the Duke, but even the Duke had his bad days, right?
    - Flight of the Phoenix. No, not that Flight of the Phoenix, the new one. The original was a classic example of a movie that did not need to be remade.
    - Grease. Starring John Revolting and Miss Oblivious Newtron Bomb – it’s got to go! Okay, Olivia does look good in leather pants, I’ll give you that.
    - Meet the Fockers. Even DeNiro can’t make up for the grating, annoying nature of Ben Stiller.
    - Pearl Harbor. Vintage aircraft bomb Burke class DDGs – round file it!
    - Planet of the Apes. Mark Wahlberg is not Charlton Heston.
    - Reign of Fire. Okay, you got me, it is dumber than 13 Ghosts.

    Does this make any sense?:

    - Austin Powers 1, and Austin Powers 3. Note that Austin Powers 2 is not included. Doh!
    - Back to the Future 2 & 3: See my comments above about the Austin Powers series.
    - Mad Max 2 & 3: Show me the Road Warrior!

    Hidden gems:

    - American Graffitti. Great movie, and who thought Harrison Ford was ever that young?
    - Blues Brothers. “We’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of smokes, and we’re on a mission from God.” ‘Nuff said.
    - Bridge on the River Kwai. William Holden and Alec Guinness at their best.
    - Count of Monte Cristo. James Caviezel in his pre-God days. It’s got adventure, it’s got intrigue, it’s got romance – great date flick.
    - Eiger Sanction. I didn’t even know this was on the list. Damn!
    - Miracle. U-S-A! U-S-A! The first sign that the Soviet Union was crumbling was when a bunch of college kids from America beat them at their own game.
    - The Professional. I never realized Natalie Portman was in this film until I scanned the list.
    - Young Frankenstein. “Oh, sweet mystery of life that now I’ve found you!”

    Guilty pleasures:

    - 40 Days and 40 Nights. Boy pledges to be “master of his domain” for 40 days (what was he thinking?!?).
    - Girl Next Door. I’m an Elisha Cuthbert fan and I was a classic, quiet nerd in high school, so this struck a chord. Think Risky Business for the 21st century.
    - Legally Blonde. Reese Witherspoon looks like she needs a meal – now, now, now! – but I laughed my a$$ off.
    - Memphis Belle. I know it’s about airdales, but I still like it.

    Conspicuously absent:

    - Blazing Saddles. A classic western…sort of. “Where the white women at?”
    - Glory. A good depiction of the lengths to which good men will go to further the cause of Freedom.
    - Hell in the Pacific. Lone Marine and Japanese aviators struggle for control of a deserted island, and it’s got Lee Marvin.
    - Mr. Roberts. Too good a depiction of what the day-to-day routine aboard a ship is like to be omitted.
    - Tora! Tora! Tora! A landmark movie in the genre.

  The Grass is Greener Syndrome

Posted by Yankee Sailor on 28May05.

Today we’re moored at the cruise piers in Nassau, Bahamas, surrounded by cruise ships. We arrived late yesterday afternoon, and the sea detail passed with just a few wrinkles. A buoy was missing. The tugs don’t like to push, only pull, and we weren’t as ready with towing hawsers as we should have been. The channel was narrower and the turn tighter than it looked on the charts. But, we got in safely and the pilot, who had brought our ship in the last time it was here a decade ago, mentioned that the ship looked much better than he remembered. The nicest touch was when the passengers aboard the Disney Majesty cheered when we got the first line over, the Boatswain’s Mate of the Watch blew the whistle and announced, “moored, shift colors”, and the color detail hauled up the ensign and jack. We had manned the rails, too, so that added to the spectacle.

A few messmates and I took a wander around the waterfront, and over to Atlantis , in the evening. Roomie was doing shore patrol, so none of us came back broke and hung over. The town is kind of dirty, it’s expensive for the average Sailor ($4-$5 for a beer – Sailors judge the cost of everything by the cost of a beer), but Atlantis was impressive. It’s certainly well designed to part a tourist from his money. They’ve got a big aquarium, with a lot of impressive sea creatures, and a nice casino. Great eyeball liberty, too. There were too many kids around for my taste, though, mostly because it reminds me how much I miss my kids.

Today is my duty day, and it’s been interesting to watch how people on the cruise ships react to and interact with us. If you observe long enough, you can identify three distinct groups, two crews and the passengers. Most Sailors spend a little time during the day gazing at the cruise ships and their passengers wondering what it would be like to relax on a ship instead of work. Many of us also take time for a little eyeball liberty to identify the most appealing members of the opposite sex.

On the cruise ships, some of the crew, particularly the officers will stop to check us out. I’m sure they wonder how we live, where we’ve been, what the food is like, and how well we get paid. The Deck officers are no doubt wondering how well the ship handles, and the engineers look grateful they work in a diesel and not a steam plant. This is what we most often wonder about them. A few clearly look like they wish they could blow something up when needed.

Many of the passengers stop to gaze at us, but their expressions are more difficult to discern. Most have some look of wonder, but all show mixed feelings. From the older passengers, perhaps many of them veterans, come looks of admiration and respect. Some of these passengers will walk over to the ship and ask for a tour, or to buy a command ball cap. There are no general tours, though, in the post-9/11, everyone could be a terrorist, world. This is one more sign that our military is becoming more distant from the people we’re supposed to be defending, but I won’t get started on that here.

Other passengers show looks of disappointment, perhaps because they regretted leaving the service or not serving at all. Children get that big-eyed, “that’s so cool!” look, and the occasional woman will notice she’s being noticed and make the most of it for the benefit of her self-esteem. Some of them will even smile and wave.

  I’ve Got a Meme? What the $#&@! is That?!?

Posted by Yankee Sailor on 26May05.

So, I went to see Doc this morning, and told him I got a meme from a Phibian , and Doc says, “that’s not possible, I gave you a shot for that… didn’t I?” This game is new to me, but I’ll give it a go…

Total number of films I own on DVD/video: probably about sixty or seventy, mostly kid stuff ( I have three boys ages 5 and under at home).

The last film I bought: Wow, it’s been a while. Probably, The Passion of the Christ . I don’t buy many films, and the ones I want I put on my wish list for holidays, so CINCHOUSE does most of the buying.

The last film I watched: You mean, like, from beginning to end, in its entirety? Remember when I mentioned that I work on a warship and have three kids? Are you joking? Okay, it’s probably Jonah . “We are the pirates who don’t do anything /we just stay at home, and lie around….”

Five films I watch a lot or mean a lot to me (in no particular order):

1) Henry V – “We few, we noble few. We band of brothers. For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother, be he n’er so vile, this day shall gentle his condition.”
2) Saving Private Ryan – I watch this one every Veteran’s and Memorial Day, just to remind me to be grateful.
3) The Seven Samurai – better than the remake, were that possible and only if you can stand subtitles.
4) Dragonslayer – a nice, unlikely hero story.
5) The Right Stuff – a great way to be reminded that the first American in space was a Naval Aviator – and he was a SWO before he was an aviator.

Now, who do I pick…? Being a SWO, I don’t really have any friends, only superiors, subordinates and peer/competitors. Plus, I’m so new at this no one really reads anything I write here, but I’ll pass it to Chaotic Synaptic Activity , Smash and the Primary Main Objective and see what happens.

Update: add Chaps to the list.

  What is a “Sea Warrior”, You Ask?

Posted by Yankee Sailor on 26May05.

Preface: Most of you won’t understand the context of this post, but a small movement is taking hold in the Navy to adapt some of the Marines’ “every Marine is a rifleman” ethos to the Navy. While I think that there’s a lot of good that can come out of it, the execution to date appears to be mostly window dressing and propaganda – tell them they’re “sea warriors”, and maybe they’ll believe it. The process of training and developing Sailors has been spelled out, and there’s a lot of rating and professional milestones along the career path that are codified, but there’s not a lot of “warrior” included, and even less “sea.”

What is a “Sea Warrior?” We were before someone invented the label, and will remain after the label is faded and forgotten. Most gaze at us with wonder and respect, some seek to become one of us, and a few try to redefine us to join our ranks by subversion, but mostly they try and fail. The path to becoming a Sea Warrior is, after all, well defined, proven by battle and time, and resists being reinvented. Take up my spyglass and have a look – but be careful – admiration and envy may follow.

An aspirant’s journey begins with beliefs. Like a keel, it is the backbone that guarantees the integrity of all we do. Sea Warriors do what we do so all can live in peace, safety and prosperity. We do it so everyone can make the most of their gifts. We do it so children can go to school and fly kites, and we do it so everyone can believe whatever they wish, and speak their minds when they please, whether their ideas are agreeable or not. It is in an aspirant’s head and heart that our first seeds are planted.

The second leg in the aspirant’s journey is training. We will instruct him on how to walk, talk and dress like one of us; and expect him to retain it on the deckplates. We will spoon-feed him the values we live by, and demand that he live similarly. We will give him the knowledge and tools he requires to make it through his first day aboard, but insist he know more by its end.

The final, and longest, leg of his journey is experience. It is on this leg that the aspirant becomes an apprentice, and the apprentice becomes one of us. He must assiduously learn his craft, and the art that lies within it, and apply all for the benefit of his Ship, Navy and Nation. He must learn how to recognize a gathering storm, how to avoid it where possible, and how to weather it when he must. Most importantly, he must learn to pass his skills and wisdom to those that choose to follow him. Only after this leg is well traveled can the apprentice be called a Mariner and Warrior. The Sea will accept nothing less.

The fundamentals of our craft, you see, are essentially ageless. Knowledge of the Sea, handling a Ship in close quarters, locating and identifying an Enemy, placing him under your batteries, and keeping the Ship in the fight despite her damage remain our bread and butter, just as they were for John Paul Jones, Oliver Hazard Perry, Arleigh Burke and Raymond Spruance. We still find inspiration in, and teach our apprentices to apply the spirit of, sentiments like, “Don’t give up the ship”, “I have not yet begun to fight”, and “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” The tools may change as years and decades pass, but the principles endure.

The most promising of our aspirants recognize that by becoming like us they can become part of something bigger than themselves, and thus greater than what they would have become on their own. They gladly submit to the lessons and experience of those that have held the line before them, and they drink deeply of the knowledge of our craft. The least promising seek to bend the yards to fit their canvas and smooth out the waves that lie before them. Inevitably they meet failure, destruction or death; for the Sea is always on duty, and She knows no mercy.

Today, genuine Sea Warriors see this fundamental wisdom ebbing. We lament that some members of our Navy know nothing of Ships and the Sea. We groan when others try to redefine what we are, and we curse the fact that many who wear the uniform are unable to defend all that we hold dear with even a rifle, much less a warship.

But time is on our side, and we will continue practicing our craft and training our replacements through this storm, just as we have through others.

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