The Bundle of Sticks

The error, one seemingly intentionally made in many cases, that certain demagogues and their ill-informed followers are making today is that they believe the constitution gives people rights.  It does not.  The rights have always been there, a scattering of “sticks” if you will, that the people gather about them in bundles of rights, tied together with the bonds of freedom.  These bundles are sometimes strong, sometimes weak.  What is critical is that the bundle is strengthened and weakened depending on the structure of the bundles.  When a stick is removed, or left lying on the ground, the bundle is weakened.

However, when a stick is replaced, or added, that bundle becomes stronger, more solid. A strong bundle of rights is what the founding fathers of this nation envisioned for the United States.  Were they perfect in their vision? Of course not, and presuming that they should be so is pure, unadulterated ignorance of the human condition.  If you are seeking perfection, you will be seeking forever.  Especially if what you are seeking involves the endeavors of man.

No, what the constitution does is recognize the existence of rights, while broadly restricting the behavior of government (with one exception) from restricting certain of those rights.  The constitution and the bill of rights are restrictive, not permissive.  I.e., the first amendment: congress shall make no law…, the second amendment: …shall not be infringed…, the sad and lonely third amendment: no soldier shall…, the fourth: shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue… and so on.

That said – the idea that “the constitution doesn’t say anything about marriage” is utterly and completely wrong-headed.  Such position presumes that the constitution is a listing of any and all possible rights that a person may have. It is not.  Let me say that again, the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights and the several amendments to the Constitution is not a menu of rights allowed to the people.  It is a mandate to the government restricting its powers to remove a stick from the bundle.  That is all.

The 14th amendment, in part says; “no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

This amendment, meant to protect a certain class of persons who had been abused since the imperfect beginning of this nation from laws designed to discriminate against them, has been applied this week to laws that were designed to discriminate against another class of person who has been traditionally discriminated against.

Some of the demagogues, and their ill-informed followers, have bemoaned the creation of a new right for this class of people.  Nevertheless, they are wrong.  There was no new right created, that right had always existed, laying disused outside the bundle of stick where it belonged, except for the bigoted and hateful interpretation of the demagogues.  This stick, intentionally, and with malice aforethought, left lying on the ground by people who preach hate, ignorance and division was merely picked up off the ground by the Supreme Court, shown to us, and placed in the bundle of rights that all American citizens have the right to enjoy.  Thus, today the bundle and the country is stronger for it.

It is time for all good Americans to stand up to the forces of hate, fear, and ignorance within our own country. Tell them that no, this is not the darkest hour, this is the shedding of the light of freedom into a dark place and therein we found a rainbow for all good people to enjoy.


The Effectiveness and Evolution of Wartime Humor from the Greatest Generation to the Y-Generation

Propaganda, as defined by Michael Shull and David Witt is the “methodical spreading of ideas in the promotion of some cause, group or nation.”[i] What better way to spread an idea than through mass media? Today we see this taken to the nth degree in the form of the internet, but in middle twentieth century the choices for dissemination of ideas was considerably more limited. This paper focuses not only on the use of movies as propaganda, a means to influence public attitudes, but specifically addresses the use of humor in those films and the ways in which that humor had evolved over the period between about 1940 to 2009.

It is widely accepted that belittling, dehumanizing and laughing at a rival or enemy culture helps one’s own culture overcome both its doubts about the justice of a war and the fear of defeat.[ii] If this assumption is true, then comedy is an ideal method for indoctrinating a culture. Perhaps one of the best places to look for information about the effectiveness of using humor to influence people lies in the advertising industry. Betsy Gelb, Associate Professor of Marketing and George Zinkham, Assistant Professor Marketing at the University of Houston explore the available research to answer the question of “how humor influences responses to a communication.”[iii] What they find is that humor has a greater effect on “brand choice” if a positive relationship already exists.[iv] If, on the other hand, no such relationship exists, multiple exposures to both the “brand” and the humor are necessary to develop a positive relationship.[v] There is a problem though. Gelb and Zinkham found that humor and “product recall” might be negatively related, with humor actually distracting from the product. This creates a need for the marketer (propagandeer) to expose his subject to his product multiple times.

This essay attempts to briefly explore the evolution of humor in films related to World War II from a period beginning just before the United States enters the war to contemporary times. It split into several, admittedly arbitrary periods. Pre-war is any movie released before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Wartime is any movie released between the declaration of war and the surrenders of Germany and Japan. Post war is any period between the end of WWII and the end of the Vietnam War, approximately 1975. Finally, a contemporary period spanning the remaining years.[vi]

The earliest known, American produced parody of Adolph Hitler comes to us in the form of the Columbia Pictures short film, You Nazty Spy! starring Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly Howard, The Three Stooges. The short released just before Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator in 1940, a period when the United States was not only still at peace with Germany, but also was a period in which Germany found a fair amount of support from Americans. You Naztzy Spy! was also released well before the enactment of the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, which would inspire later recruitment focused movies.[vii] As such, its message is less about inspiring the masses and more about ridiculing the Third Reich and their associates. It is pure farce, low comedy highlighting the usual Three Stooges gags.

On the other hand, The Great Dictator with Charlie Chaplin was serious comedy. Even high comedy with the purpose of ridiculing not only the Third Reich, but the masses of officials, businesspersons and even religious leaders defending Germany as a “Christian” nation. These same leaders vehemently, even maliciously criticized Chaplin’s production of the movie.[viii] The controversy surrounding the movie delayed its release for fear of public reaction.[ix] Chaplin did not care; he wrote, directed, starred in and even funded the movie. When released, the movie was a hit with the public.

Chaplin lampooned Hitler and Mussolini and addressed Nazi Germany’s official anti-Semitism. While no public reaction from der Fuehrer was ever recorded, Hitler did ban the film in Germany and German occupied nations.[x] Chaplin’s impassioned plea in the deservedly famous speech at the end of the The Great Dictator is as applicable today as it was in 1940.[xi] To quote Chaplin, “The Great Dictator is my first picture in which history is greater than The Little Tramp.”[xii] Chaplin’s son, Sydney Chaplin confirms his father saying that if he had known the extent of evil of the Nazi empire, he could never have made this movie.[xiii] For better or worse, we are fortunate that this was not the case; Chaplin set out to convince America to take a stand for what was just, and as Brownlow puts it in his documentary, “…his only weapon, his absolute weapon, was laughter.”[xiv] The humor in The Great Dictator is distinct from the humor in You Natzi Spy in that Chaplin did not just ridicule, he explored the pain of living in a post Kristallnacht Germany.

Buck Privates, directed by Arthur Lubin, is the first of a series of three pre-Pearl Harbor movies starring the comedy duo Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. The movies also features the Andrews Sisters, and Shemp Howard working on his solo career. The main characters, a pair of scam artists selling unlicensed ties, find themselves caught by the cops, hilarity ensues when they mistakenly line up at a movie theater showing, according to one bystander You’re In the Army Now. Oblivious to the evidence right in front of their faces, the two scoundrels accidentally enlist.

The movie, while clearly slapstick, it is also obviously designed to glorify service in the Army and encourage recruitment. Lubin wastes no time in throwing us into a parade and goodbye party with pretty girls (Camp hostesses) giving out free cigarettes, apples, and other treats.[xv]

The usual tropes are here, starting with the Andrew Sisters singing You’re a Lucky Fellow, Mr. Smith, a patriotic song about the glories of being born free in the United States, ending with the new recruits taking up the song and marching off to the trains and to their life in the service.[xvi] This breaking into song is a popular modus operandi for movies of the period and is used repeatedly in Buck Privates. The black car steward joining in the song responding “Yes’m, I’m Uncle Sammy’s fair haired boy…” in a “black” patois smacks of the ingrained racism that people of the time took for granted, but would today likely result in outrage.[xvii]

In the Navy, released that same year is essentially more of the same with running gags, music (sometimes even overtly racist music; Gimme Some Skin, My Friend is a real head-shaker), and a romantic sub-plot. It was, like Buck Privates, essentially an 86-minute long recruiting film to promote service in the Navy.[xviii]

Different from their predecessors, which largely were meant to humiliate and entertain at the expense of a certain Austrian corporal, Buck Privates and its two companion movies are only incidentally comedies (which is not to say that there are not enough laughs). They are effectively early pieces of peacetime (though prophetic) military propaganda designed to inspire and support the recently established peacetime draft. Abbott and Costello’s running gags keep the audience’s attention, or perhaps even distract the audience from the notion that the movie is really a showcase of military indoctrination.

However, the world and Hollywood changed on December 7, 1941 when aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Navy infamously attacked targets in and around Pearl Harbor, Hawaii throwing the United States into the Second World War. The government’s attempts to secure cooperation from Hollywood in promoting the war resulted in Hollywood producing a number of wartime comedies.[xix] The first was apparently a movie by director Edward F. Cline entitled Private Snuffy Smith, released in January 1942. Snuffy Smith, a hillbilly character who first appeared in comic strips in 1919 and as a comic strip, is still in production, making it one of the longest running comic strips today.[xx] Director Roy Mack later released a second Snuffy Smith movie, Hillbilly Blitzkrieg in August that same year.[xxi] The first movie’s humor was simple, even grotesque, obviously playing on the popularity of the character, more than being a developed script. As such, the almost non-existent plot is distracting, taking away from the movie as a whole.

The challenge of movies up to this point is that their focus is not to be comedic, but to inspire patriotism and support for the war effort, being a comedy it seems was simply a vehicle to attract audiences. It seems that based upon our tiny sample here, that for truly comedic WWII movies, the public would have to wait until after the war.

Catch-22, based on the novel written by Joseph Heller in 1953, is the story of a B-25 bombardier, Captain John Yossarian as he deals with the challenges of maintaining his sanity in the Italian theater of operations during WWII. The title itself is satirical, referring to a situation in which a desired outcome or solution is impossible to attain because of a set of inherently contradictory rules or conditions. The movie, directed by Mike Nichols, and released in 1970 is irreverent, showing the aviators of the 256th Bomber Squadron as shiftless, paranoid, sarcastic and, in the case of some, opportunistic mercenaries.

This pattern of sarcastic, even black satire is seen throughout war movies released during this period. Kelly’s Heroes (1970) portrays a U.S. Army unit in less than honorable terms. The movie puts satirical characters in a serious situation, the planning of a bank heist behind German lines. Kelly’s Heroes finds its humor in the cast of characters, more than the situation they are in; Oddball (and really his whole crew) – drugged up, checked out, sexually ambiguous hippies – or, to quote Big Joe, “Oddball! He’s a Freak!” Crapgame – the swindler. General Colt – the oblivious dolt. All led by Kelly, a disgraced former office, demoted to sergeant who, disgruntled at his lot leads this collection of misfits. Is it possible, even likely that these characters reflect public opinion of soldiers at the time?

MASH (1970), portrays the exploits of three womanizing, alcoholic, rule-breaking, anti-Army combat surgeons.[xxii] While this movie is outside the WWII genre, it further illustrates the change in tenor of the time. A change that was not necessarily welcomed, in one review in the journal Daedalus, the author, identified in the review only by the initials S.R.G. says; “…Since books not worth reading are not worth reviewing and Catch 22 is worthless, my review needs justification.”[xxiii] S.R.G. concludes his scathing review saying, “If Mr. Heller wishes to be a humorist, let him relax. There is more humor, even more satire, in a strip of the cartoon “Peanuts” than in the whole of Catch-22.”[xxiv] In comparison, Pinsker Sanford, in the Sewanee review called Catch-22 profound in that in the story the enemy no longer wore the uniform of the Nazi or the Italian soldier, but instead wore the greens and khakis of the American service member.[xxv] Pinsker states that Catch-22 has become a piece of classic American humor in a way that the vast majority of the wartime pictures have not.[xxvi]

Even so, by 1970, 7 years after S.R.G. wrote his review, the movie brought in $24,911,670., ranking it as the tenth highest grossing picture that year.[xxvii] M.A.S.H. brought in $81,600,000.[xxviii] Kelly’s Heroes (1970) brought in a paltry $5,200,000.[xxix] It seems that demand for this sort of humor existed, regardless of the genre the movie depicted.

The trend for dark humor continued through to contemporary times. 1941 (1979) directed by Stephen Spielberg and starring Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi and Toshiro Mifune to name just a few, grossed over $94 million.[xxx] Lambasting the west coast fear immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor, 1941 is an example of the humor that the public had come to expect from a cast largely populated by Saturday Night Live veterans. Irreverent, even disrespectful, the style is modern slapstick. It is however, slapstick aimed internally at America and not at some foreign or alien source. Comparisons to National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978), which shared much of the same cast, are inevitable. Additionally it is difficult to not make comparisons between 1941 and the numerous recruiting movies of the WWII era. There are inept soldiers defending the country, chasing after women, running from authorities, an Andrews Sisters analogue singing at the USO, and even a choreographed dance/fight bit. The only truly noticeable difference seems to be the demise of the straight man.[xxxi] It seems that we have come full-circle.

I started to exclude Inglorious Basterds (2009) from this essay, but it was the most recent WWII related “comedy” available. Additionally, the movie received eight Academy Award nominations including nominations for best director and best screenplay.[xxxii] Christopher Waltz took home the best supporting actor award for his portrayal of the gloriously evil, Jew hunting S.S. Col. Hans Landa.[xxxiii] This makes it hard to ignore. Is it really comedy though?

The writer and director, Quentin Tarrantino describes the movie as a “Spaghetti Western set in France during World War II”. Neither he, nor Weinstein Films bill the movie as a comedy. Additionally, as a comedy, compared to most of the other movies we have looked at, it does not stand up. There is no singing and dancing, no glorification, or criticizing of patriotism. Unlike 1941, which seemed to do away with the straight man, in Inglourious Basterds everyone is a straight man. This movie clearly sits outside the pattern we have established thus far. So, what makes Inglorious Basterds a comedy? Basterds is largely comedy of the extreme, more akin to The Great Dictator than to any of the other films that come between. Unlike the Stooges, or Abbott & Costello, or even Capt. Yossarian of Catch-22, the Basterds, Hans Landa and Shosanna are taken only to the extreme to put them outside the norm yet not so far outside the norm as to be unbelievable, or even unlikely. Like the Brad Pitts’ War Daddy from the movie Fury, Lt. Aldo Raine is a man driven without resorting to overt patriotism/anti-patriotism. Both men are capable of committing acts of extreme brutality; both men are driven by a hatred for Nazis (or, in Lt. Raine’s case, Natzis – yet another circle fully closed. Intentionally? Maybe, given who the writer/director was), both men have standing orders for their crew to kill every German they see. Yet no one could confuse the two characters if placed side-by-side. Whereas Wardaddy can be seen regretting his actions in rare, solitary moments, Lt. Raines shows absolutely no regret for his actions, seems bored and irritated with the whole endeavor and in the final scene of the movie even admires his own handiwork in the form of his trademark swastika carved into Col. Landa’s forehead. This is comedy, which on the surface, is not meant to inspire, or anger, or change the way we think. Basterds is comedy meant to make us uncomfortable, and in making us uncomfortable subtlety inspires us, angers us and makes us change the way we think. Tarrantino wields comedy like a scalpel, in the vein of the clearly graceful and balanced Charles Chaplin, instead of the bludgeon of the Stooges or Abbott and Costello.

With one exceptional outlier, we have come full circle here, starting with You Natzi Spy! and The Great Dictator meant to ridicule and belittle the enemy, leading into the recruitment drive comedies of the war-era, and then into the post-war comedies poking fun at the establishment, to movies wherein the comedy is so refined that the audience does not even really understand on a conscious level why they are laughing. With the rare exception, war comedy has evolved from the ridiculous through the subtle, finally evolving into something only barely recognizable as humor.

Is humor an effective means to influence people? The only answer this essay can give is … possibly. As with any complex topic, there are numerous schools of thought. If Betsy Gelb and George Zinkham’s conclusions are correct and raw humor is a distraction instead of an enhancement, then it is possible that comedies akin to Inglorious Basterds will have greater effect on audiences than any number of Abbott and Costello movies.

Shull, Michael S. & Wilt, David E., Doing Their Bit – Wartime American Animated Short Films, 1939-1945. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, North Carolina, 1987.

Waller, J. Michael (2007-04-23). Fighting the War of Ideas like a Real War (Kindle Location 1379). Institute of World Politics Press. Kindle Edition.

Gelb, Betsy D. and Zinkhan, George M., Humor and Advertising Effectiveness after Repeated Exposures to a Radio Commercial Author(s): Source: Journal of Advertising, Vol. 15, No. 2 (1986), pp. 15-20+34 Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. Stable URL: Accessed: 07/17/2015.

Purcell, Darren Purcell, Scott-Brown, Melissa, and Gokmen, Mahmut, Achmed the dead terrorist and humor in popular geopolitics Source: GeoJournal, Vol. 75, No. 4, New Directions in Critical Geopolitics (2010), pp. 373-385 Published by: Springer. Stable URL: Accessed: 07/17/2015.

Shull, Michael S. and Wilt, David Edward, Hollywood War Films, 1937-1945, an Exhaustive Filmography of American Feature-Length Motion Pictures Relating to World War II. McFarland & Company, Inc., NC. (1949).

Koppes, Clayton and Black, Gregory, Hollywood Goes to War: How Politics, Profits, and Propaganda Shaped World War II Movies. University of California Press, Berkeley. 1990.

Daedalus, Vol. 92, No. 1, The American Reading Public (Winter, 1963), pp. 155-165 Published by: The MIT Press on behalf of American Academy of Arts & Sciences Stable URL: Accessed: July 18, 2015.

Pinsker, Sanford, Reassessing “Catch-22”. Source: The Sewanee Review, Vol. 108, No. 4 (Fall, 2000), pp. 602-610 Published by The Johns Hopkins University Press. Stable URL: Accessed: 07/18/2015.

Botting, Douglas; Sayer, Ian (2012-01-27). Nazi Gold: The Sensational Story of the World’s Greatest Robbery – and the Greatest Criminal Cover-Up. Mainstream Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The Tramp and the Dictator’: The Laugh Was on Hitler, Susan King. Los Angeles Times, September 30, 2002. URL: Accessed: 07/18/2015.

Rose, John, Barney Google and Snuffy Smith. Comics Kingdom, July 18, 2015. URL: Accessed: 07/18/2015.



Charlie Chaplin – The Great Dictator – Full Documentary, directed by Kevin Brownlow, (2002). Source: YouTube URL: Accessed: 07/18/2015.

Buck Privates. Directed by Arthur Lubin. (1941). 8 Movies: Wartime Comedies. DVD.

In the Navy. Directed by Arthur Lubin. (1941). 8 Movies: Wartime Comedies. DVD.

Caught in the Draft. Directed by David Butler. (1941). 8 Movies: Wartime Comedies. DVD.

You Natzi Spy! Directed by Jules White (1940). Source: URL: Accessed: 07/17/2015.

The Great Dictator, Directed by Charles Chaplin (1940). Source: Amazon Prime digital download.

1941, Directed by Stephen Spielberg (1970). Source: Amazon Prime digital download.

Kelly’s Heroes Directed by Biran G. Hutton (1970). Source: Amazon Prime digital download.

Inglorious Basterds (2009), Directed by Quentin Tarrantino (2009). Source: Amazon Prime digital download.

Hillbilly Blitzkrieg, Directed by Roy Mack, (1942). YouTube URL: Accessed: 07/18/2015.

Private Snuffy Smith, Directed by Edward F. Cline, (1942). URL: Accessed: 07/18/2015.

Private Buckaroo, Directed by Edward F. Cline, (1942). URL: accessed 07/18/2015.

[i] Shull, Michael S. & Wilt, David E., Doing Their Bit – Wartime American Animated Short Films, 1939-1945. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, North Carolina, 1987. 9

[ii] Waller, J. Michael (2007-04-23). Fighting the War of Ideas like a Real War (Kindle Location 1379). Institute of World Politics Press. Kindle Edition.

[iii] Gelb, Betsy D. and Zinkhan, George M., Humor and Advertising Effectiveness after Repeated Exposures to a Radio Commercial Author(s): Source: Journal of Advertising, Vol. 15, No. 2 (1986), pp. 15-20+34 Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. Stable URL: Accessed: 17-07-2015 16:37 UTC. 15.

[iv] Ibid. 20.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] I thought to divide the contemporary period up further, into Reagan era, and War on Terror Era but the limitations of size of this essay make the current divisions difficult enough to manage.

[vii] Aka: Burke-Wadsworth Act, Pub.L. 76–783, 54 Stat. 885.
Full Text of the Act:

[viii] Charlie Chaplin – The Great Dictator – Full Documentary, directed by Kevin Brownlow, 2002 Source: YouTube URL: Accessed: 07/18/2015. Mark: 5:34-7:00.

[ix] Shull, Michael S. and Wilt, David Edward, Hollywood War Films, 1937-1945, an Exhaustive Filmography of American Feature Length Motion Pictures Relating to World War II. McFarland & Company, Inc., NC. (1949). 114.

[x] Source: URL: Accessed: 07/17/2015. In Italy, the film was not seen in its full version until 2002.

[xi] The speech can be found online. Source:, URL: Accessed: 07/18/2015.

[xii] Brownlow, Mark 1:34 – 1:38.

[xiii] ‘The Tramp and the Dictator’: The Laugh Was on Hitler, Susan King. Los Angeles Times, September 30, 2002. URL: Accessed: 07/18/2015.

[xiv] Brownlow, Mark: 7:00-7:08.

[xv] 11:23.

[xvi] “You’re a Lucky Fellow, Mr. Smith” Mark: 12:42 – 16:08.

[xvii] Mark: 15:07.

[xviii] Interesting aside: In the we did not do our research department, when Pomeroy Watson (Lou Costello) is sent to the fleet, he is sent to the USS Alabama BB-60, he talks of going to Pearl Harbor. The Alabama was not commissioned until 1942 and was an East Coast ship until 1943 stationed out of Norfolk protecting lend-lease convoys bound for Britain and Russia on the “Murmansk run.” Source: Battleship Memorial Park Website, Battleship USS Alabama (BB-60). URL: Accessed: 07/17/2015.

[xix] Koppes, Clayton and Black, Gregory, Hollywood Goes to War: How Politics, Profits, and Propaganda Shaped World War II Movies. University of California Press, Berkeley. 1990. (vii). An accurate accounting of the numbers of comedies alone does not appear to have been produced and no reliable listing was found.

[xx] Rose, John, Barney Google and Snuffy Smith. Comics Kingdom, July 18, 2015. URL: Accessed: 07/18/2015.

The Bodacious Best of Snuffy Smith: A Barney Google and Snuffy Smith Collection by John Rose was released in January 2013.

[xxi] Source:, URL: Accessed: 07/18/2015.
Hillbilly Blitzkrieg, Directed by Roy Mack, 1942. YouTube URL: Accessed: 07/18/2015.

[xxii] While not a part of the WWII genre, M.A.S.H. still illustrates a sea change in the humor in war movies during the Vietnam period.

[xxiii] Daedalus, Vol. 92, No. 1, The American Reading Public (Winter, 1963), pp. 155-165. Published by: The MIT Press on behalf of American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Stable URL: Accessed: July 18, 2015, 155.

[xxiv] Ibid. 165.

[xxv] Pinsker, Sanford, Reassessing “Catch-22”. Source: The Sewanee Review, Vol. 108, No. 4 (Fall, 2000), pp. 602-610 Published by the Johns Hopkins University Press. Stable URL: Accessed: 07/18/2015. 602-603.

[xxvi] Ibid. 609.

[xxvii], URL:,1970&title_type=feature&sort=moviemeter,asc Accessed: 07/18/2015.

According to the inflation calculator, $24.911.670 is the equivalent of $149,830,961 in 2014.

[xxviii] Box Office Mojo. Accessed: 07/18/2015. Over $490,000,000 in today’s money.

[xxix] Box Office Mojo. URL: Accessed: 07/18/2015.

[xxx] The Numbers. URL: Accessed: 07/18/2015.

[xxxi] Unless we count Toshiro Mifune’s Japanese submarine commander as such, his playing off Slim Pickens – who always plays Slim Pickens – is excellent.

[xxxii] Quentin Tarantino Biography – Film Actor, Screenwriter, Television Actor, Director, Producer (1963–). URL: Accessed: 07/18/2015.

[xxxiii] Source: Oscar Awards official website. URL: Accessed: 07/18/2015.

Writing Prompt – “The sand settles and I finally see the giant silhouette in front of me”

The sand settles and I finally see the giant silhouette in front of me… “damned…” I thought, “they missed.”

“Godddamnit Sersai, get your shit together!” I yell over the secure channel at my artillery officer. I simply must replace the dumb bitch and find a new Longbow squad leader; she’s been missing more than hitting of late, and when she hits, she hits lesser targets. Nothing to be done about it now …time to go to work.

Before the chastened lieutenant can mumble her apologies I kick the radio over to the general channel; “So, a tough bastard, eh?” I say, hitting the fast charge on my heavy lasers, leaving the two massive plasma cannon to cycle to full power normally.

“Oh, yes, ah’m not quite so fhuckin’ stupid as me squad mates ” the massive fighting robot, a Clan Kodiak, straightened to its full height of eighty-five feet, it’s paint and markings scarred, it’s armor dented and scratched, but no real visible damage. My sensors confirmed that – at least the front of the beast – had suffered only negligible damage from the artillery barrage. Some of his allies hadn’t been so lucky, I note. One Kodiak was down, two lighter mechs burning in the background, a horde of foot soldiers torn to pieces and scattered… The light mechs and the infantry mean dick to me, fucking Sersai fired early letting this big bastard through.

“That’s not saying much you son of an infected dog,” I moved, my much lighter but heavily armed Marauder Mod IVc accelerating rapidly to flank speed as the Kodiak’s heavy auto cannon’s lit up shredding the ground I’d just vacated.

“Sphere bastard!” the clansman screamed, “I am Delarian Spachhed of the Black Clan, who do I have the honor of killing today?” The lumbering beast moved with me, trying to get ahead of my flanking maneuver, the clansman turning and rotating his mech’s torso expertly to keep up with my run. I could see immediately that he’d catch me shortly…and I couldn’t take too many hits from that 605mm cannon of his.
I set my smaller, 320mm autocannon on automatic track and engage, its ball joint pivoting as the Iron Shield targeting radar locked onto the Kodiak, the greatest threat on any field of battle, and the only threat nearby. Joints, heads, any spot of armor over fifty percent damage, the fire control computer would automatically lock on and engage these targets, unfortunately, I’d run out of time.

Bitchin’ Betty started screeching in my helmet; “TARGET LOCK, TARGET LOCK, TARGET LOCK!” That Kodiak driver had managed to catch me in my turning run and that damned big gun was about to open up on me. Naturally, that was the least of my problems, I may have been at extreme range for it, but Betty – bless her nagging soul – almost in the same instant started alternating “TARGET LOCK!” with “Vampire! Vampire! Vampire!” Inbound missiles! The whole time the damned clansman is screaming obscenities about my heritage over the radio.

My holographic helmet display flared twelve red triangles with trajectory indicators pointed right at me. My fire control systems automatically deployed chaff and flares to distract the missiles, and I could hear the twin six-gun turrets of my close in weapons system spin up and start chattering off 40mm rounds just as my autocannon started firing. I on the other hand had to fire my jump jets myself.

Jump jet is a misnomer, in smaller medium and light mechs, yeah, it’s a turbojet. But in my eighty ton machine, jets would be most inadequate. Two solid fuel boosters fired, accelerating me straight up at nearly seven g’s shoving me back into my chair and activating my g-compensators. My fire control computer maintained target on the Kodiak, tracking and firing on it until my autocannon could not depress any further. Explosions rocked the Kodiak, armor fell off in huge chunks as I rose out of range of that damned big gun. My anti-missile defense had either spoofed or destroyed his salvo – that was luck, not the norm.

Four steerable ramjets fired next. A modification found only within my army. Limited of course, as heavy mechs fly like bricks, but bricks with several hundred thousand pounds of thrust still fly for a good minute. A full flight of heavy Marauders approaching at attitude tends to make one’s enemies think, and often makes them run, even when they’re running heavies.

Unlike the Kodiak, which mounts its heaviest weapons in its torso, the Marauder mounts its main weapons, two heavy pulse lasers and two heavy particle projector cannon in arms that rotate on a free floating ball joint, powered by their own polymolecular musculature servos, giving then nearly a free range of movement obstructed only by the mechs torso.

I turned, flying over my apparently stunned opponent. The sensors tracking my target flashed “FIRE” in my helmet reticle and I stabbed down on the primary weapons relay, unleashing hell. The heavy pulse lasers and particle cannons fired straight down into the big Kodiaks shoulder joints burning through the missile launchers, detonating the remaining missiles and blowing the mechs head and cockpit clean off. Then my third solid rocket booster blasted a stream of star bright fire straight into the gaping wound that was the Kodiak’s neck joint and through to the reactor core. My Marauder blasted up and out of range of the colossal resulting explosion. “I am Kelvin Delvarian of House Sungto, and today is just not your day!”

An Interesting Take on Obama’s Stance on Guns

I love listening to the rants about Obama and how he’s anti-gun. Sure, he appears that way, he talks the talk but he doesn’t really walk the walk, does he? Truth is, Obama’s presidency has been the best thing for gun manufacturers ever. There are TWO publicly traded gun manufacturers in the country. Sturm Ruger and Smith & Wesson. Sturm Ruger’s stock has increased in value 10 times (YES, TEN TIMES) since Obama became president, all on fears that ‘Bama is gonna take our guns. S&W? 7 times. I wish to all the Gods that I’d invested in either one before he took office.

In fact, NO PRESIDENT that I can find has done more to bolster the gun industry.

In fact, since Obama took office, the rights of licensed chl holders have increased, we can now carry in National Parks and on Amtrak. Interesting isn’t it? He also called Holder to the carpet at the beginning of his presidency and read him the riot act about saying how his administration would support a Clinton style AWB and then released a statement repudiating Holder’s statement.

But the NRA endorsed Romney. Mitt Romney as governor of Mass. signed into a law a PERMANENT Assault Weapons ban. That means he signed into a law a piece of legislation that was WORSE for gun owners than the Clinton Ban, which had a sunset clause (Which means that when Clinton signed it into law he KNEW that that law would eventually die a horrible death suffocated by political hubris). Not only that, but Romney signed into law a gun registration law …something the NRA says they would fight and fight and fight. Then, after that he signed into a law a TRIPLING of the registration fee. Remember, this the man that the NRA says is a friend to gun owners. Then, just before his first run at the White House, he goes and joins up with the NRA and hypocritically claims to be a hunter.

What has Obama done, other than, as an Illinois legislature toe the line (except of course for that vote to allow retired police officers to concealed carry in Illinois), and as president give lip service to the anti-gun crowd?

The truth is Obama has been very pro-gun control in his speech, but very neutral on gun control in his actions. Did he support Feinstein’s stupid attempt last year? Yes, but I think that was a political maneuver because the only person who thought that pig would pass was Feinstein herself ( and as far as I’m concerned, she’s the devil).

No. Anyone who thinks Obama is really pro-gun control simply hasn’t assembled the evidence for themselves and either is busying listening to Fox or the NRA (of which I am a life-member). Obama, for all his faults, has been very astute on this topic. Telling people what they want, maintaining the appearance of being a good little “gun grabber” all the while quietly undermining their position. I don’t think I could ever call him pro-gun, he’s an Illinois politician after all, but to say he’s an anti-gun president is a big, big stretch.

What’s Wrong at the NRA?

Those of you who know me know that no sane person would ever say I’m anti-gun.  The fact that I’m an NRA Life-Member, Instructor and RSO goes further to support the theory that I’m very pro-gun ownership and pro-2nd Amendment.   What I am against, are half-truths, lies, panicky-ness, and zealotry.  As such I do have some issues with the current leadership of the NRA.

This is one of them.  I’ve just casually gone through three of their monthly magazines.  In those magazines there are at least (and I have to confess to not be UBER thorough) fifteen articles about gun RIGHTS.  Articles about how the gubment is trying to tramp on your right to own, carry, shoot, buy, etc. whatever firearm you want.  Invariably, these turn into rants against Obama, or Biden, or Feinstein, their favorite targets.  In those same three magazines, I saw ONE article about gun owner RESPONSIBILITY.  An article about safes, which, if you’ve been paying attention, you know is something that I personally harp on.   If you are a gun owner, then you should also be a gun safe owner is very much a mantra of mine.

The tone, which this current crop of NRA “leaders” have cultivated to create fear and division, is one of “I want, I want, I want” when in fact, we should take a primary position of “I MUST.”

Instead of “I WANT MY GUNS,” the attitude should be “I MUST be responsible with my guns.”  The constant hew and cry against the Obama administration, while endorsing a gun-grabber like Romney for President, simply makes the organization look like a bunch of partisan boobs.

I’m struck by article about some idiot who went out and followed V. Pres. Biden’s advice on how to chase attackers off from the house.  That is, take your double barrel shotgun outside and shoot it into the air.  Now, anyone with a lick of sense knows that this is not only stupid and dangerous, but in many cases, simply illegal.  I’m not even going to get into how many laws here in Texas this would violate, reckless endangerment, illegal discharge, disordely conduct, and those are only the things that are at the top of my head.  Well, our particular idiot did just that and sure enough was arrested.  He now claims that he was just doing what the VP said to do.  The NRA article is trying to make it out that this is somehow Biden’s fault.  I do not agree.  Biden said something ignorant, yes.  But he’s not the person who shot the gun!  As a gun owner, this person had a HIGHER duty to know the laws, to know what he is allowed and not allowed to do in defense of his property.  It wasn’t Biden’s duty to teach him that – thought I DO wish the VP would shut the hell up about things he clearly has no knowledge of.  That said, ANYONE who listens to the “advice” of a politician on the pulpit, falls squarely into the category of moron.  Morons should NOT own guns.  The NRA seems to think the man has a valid defense, but I’m of the opinion that gun owners have a higher responsibility than to listen to kneejerk advice – especially from a career politician who is know to suffer from foot-in-mouth disease.  I hope this particular idiot is convicted and disallowed to own firearms.  He’s making it harder for those of us who actually have a brain and giving ammunition to the Feinsteins and Brady Campaigns types out there.

I’m still wondering if there might be room out there for a new gun owner organization. One that pushes for the “Well Regulated Militia” as well as The Right to Bear Arms not being infringed?  Sure would be nice to see a balanced approach for once, and not one based on politics, dogma and fear.

The new voice to text in Android Jelly Bean needs work.

I was using the notepad on my phone to transcribe some thoughts. …and I get this.

“One of the worst policies come out of the Second World War in the concept of the enemy of my enemy is my friend . This policy this unstated policy the United States has what is down the garden path in many ways and every single conflict that we have been involved in since the world war has resulted from this unstated policy here so beautiful and this evening inability hopper have a headache all legend decisions that correct glad to tucson or if you kill the superbowl. Some of the boy in the summit road villa deviation mine when you get write down to it in a billion comprehend what asian lady is based solely on western arrogance”

I think I want to write a book with this software.   We can all be surprised!