"A Copse. Evening"

"A Copse. Evening"
A. Y. Jackson, 1918
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Monday, July 31, 2017


Meet Siegfried Loraine Sassoon. Taken circa May, 1915 when he was twenty-eight years old and with all of nine months-ish in the army, much of that time having been spent in the hospital.
We see him above as a newly-minted 2nd Lt. in the Royal Welsh Fusileers headed off to France. Sassoon had all the earmarks of a rich douchebag. He came from money and was well-educated but did little but hunt foxes and write sappy poetry. But when the twentieth century began in August, 1914, Siegfried  joined up - as an enlisted man.
He was on the fast track to becoming just another nameless bullet magnet across the channel until his plan was thwarted by a riding mishap during his training. He recovered just in time for the "Oh shit!" reality of the war to have begun to dawn on folks. 
So here's Sassoon: He fell of a horse as a private but got well as an officer and an infantry platoon leader at that. 
He took to it, seemingly.
He had some sort of manic courage that led his platoon to call him "Mad Jack" and only felt confident when he was with them.
But he could wax random.
He once, under the covering fire of a few rifles, routed  sixty or so German defenders from a trench on the Hindenburg Line with the understanding that when the trench was secure he'd tell the lads to come up.
A tense hour and a half later, his platoon finally crept close only to find Sassoon kicked back in the German trench - reading.
However, another time: On 27 July 1916 he was awarded the Military Cross; the citation read:
"2nd Lt. Siegfried Lorraine [sic] Sassoon, 3rd (attd. 1st) Bn., R. W. Fus.
For conspicuous gallantry during a raid on the enemy's trenches. He remained for 1½ hours under rifle and bomb fire collecting and bringing in our wounded. Owing to his courage and determination all the killed and wounded were brought in."
To my mind what makes him a hero is what happened a century ago yesterday.
Sassoon wrote his letter, "Finished with the war. A soldier's declaration."
It was published in Bradford Pioneer on July 27 and read to the British House of Commons on July 30, 1917. It was printed in the London Times the following day. 

July, 1917."

"I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it. I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that the war upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation has now become a war of agression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them and that had this been done the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.

I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust. I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.

On behalf of those who are suffering now, I make this protest against the deception which is being practised upon them; also I believe it may help to destroy the callous complacency with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share and which they have not enough imagination to realize"

This is treading one's Oscar Meyer in a most public and dangerous way.
To prevent his being court-martialed, his buddy, Robert Graves, convinced the powers that Siegfried had simply gone off his nut.
They bought it so he was sent to Craiglockhart Hospital in Edinburgh to be treated or "shell shock".
He wasn't crazy but he wasn't well either. He copped to seeing dead members of his platoon crawling across the floor of his room at night and apparently once, while on leave in London, he'd had to step over rotting corpses in Piccadilly Circus.
In the end he voluntarily went back to France to rejoin his men.
"Suicide in the Trenches"
Siegfried Sassoon

I knew a simple soldier boy

Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Katrina Reefers.

That actually sounds like it'd be a good band name. Like Jimmy Buffet only bleaker.
Short version: Al Gore got fat, a hurricane made landfall near New Orleans. Brownie did "a heck-of-a job" Remember the winning?
Finally folks got to go back home - after three months.
But there was a lurking monster in every house, two per household if they were affluent enough to own a freezer.

No need to look at that any further.
That's one that's open and thus is only marginally disgusting.
The real deal were the the ones that had been opened once - if at all - and then sent to live on a farm.
They turned into a sort of folk art as pictured below.
Following that, a few arithmetic facts. 

Oh my God. That's a lot of dead reefers. 
Also lots of old-school, ozone-killing, freon refrigerants to deal with in getting rid of them.
I'm sure our government was equal to it. We took care of business.
There weren't that many nasty home-appliances anyway...
Allowing a generic 30" x 30" footprint per unit - some will be bigger and some littler. And, in straining our visualization further, we're going to stand the chest freezers on end - just to keep it fair.
Before the mathematical punchline is delivered, please know: All the above biohazard "white goods" were so numerous and each such a stinky, dangerous pain in the ass that they just fucking buried the lot of them.
'Member our numbers? 
30" x 30" ends up being six and a quarter square feet. That means, using my conservative estimate, this extemporaneous landfill covered 21 acres.
Just for fun, let's put all these units in a line; nut-to-butt, asshole-to-bellybutton, so we can walk over... hot lava, for instance.
You'd be able to safely traverse... seventy miles!
Is this a great country or what?

Sunday, June 04, 2017

It's just a Beau going in...

Poetry Break!

First, some context:
Pictured: A Bristol Beaufighter.
Originally conceived as a twin engine, two man, heavy fighter, it suffered the fate of all the heavy fighters of WW2 apart from the Lockheed P-38 Lightning  and the DeHaviland Mosquito. Said fate being: Being either pushed aside or pressed into service as night fighters.
In this latter role, their deficiencies in agility could be more than offset by increased capacity for radar and armaments.

As you can see, she's a good-sized unit.
Notice; Right above the head of the fella on the left are two of the tubes for the four 20 mm Hispano Mk II cannon in the nose with a load of 240 rounds per gun. 
Realistically, that's only about thirty second's worth but...
The observer, in the back seat had his own Browning MG, chambered in .303 Brit.
They were a serious item during the Battle of Britain and apparently their occasional demise was visible from shore. Such as by poet, Gavin Ewart who, to my knowledge wrote exactly one war poem. He was a Royal Artillery officer during the war and apparently was deeply affected by it.

When a Beau Goes In.
When a Beau goes in,
Into the drink,
It makes you think,
Because, you see, they always sink
But nobody says "Poor lad"
Or goes about looking sad
Because, you see, it's war,
It's the unalterable law.

Although it's perfectly certain
The pilot's gone for a Burton
And the observer too
It's nothing to do with you
And if they both should go
To a land where falls no rain nor hail nor driven snow —
Here, there, or anywhere,
Do you suppose they care?

You shouldn't cry
Or say a prayer or sigh.
In the cold sea, in the dark
It isn't a lark
But it isn't Original Sin —
It's just a Beau going in.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Happy Decoration Day!

     To the Warmongers 
Written by my hero, Siegfried Lorraine Sassoon:

"I'm back again from hell 
With loathsome thoughts to sell; 
secrets of death to tell;
And horrors from the abyss.

Young faces bleared with blood 
sucked down into the mud, 
You shall hear things like this, 
Till the tormented slain

Crawl round and once again,
With limbs that twist awry
Moan out their brutish pain,
As the fighters pass them by.

For you our battles shine
With triumph half-divine;
And the glory of the dead
Kindles in each proud eye.

But a curse is on my head, 
That shall not be unsaid, 
And the wounds in my heart are red, 
For I have watched them die."

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Mem-day warmup.

Poetry alert!
A poem follows and, lest you miss the meaning.
Cheat sheet: "Scarlet Majors" refers to "Red-tabs". That ought to clear things up.
Above are "red tabs"; collar flashes worn by staff officers, "garritroopers."

The following is by my hero, Siegfried Sassoon See if you can sense a similarity to a certain warmly-pastel-colored "world leader" in the first few lines.

Base Details

If I were fierce, and bald, and short of breath,
I’d live with scarlet Majors at the base,
And speed glum heroes up the line to death.
You’d see me with my puffy petulant face,
Guzzling and gulping in the best hotel,
Reading the Roll of Honour. ‘Poor young chap,’
I’d say—‘I used to know his father well.
Yes, we’ve lost heavily in this last scrap.’
And when the war was done and youth stone dead,
I’d toddle safely home and die — in bed.

A hopeful note at the last.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Oh Lordy...
I just couldn't wait to see if Agent Orange can talk about this without sounding like an idiot. That's tough to pull off when you've already been proven one.
Believe for a miracle.
Wrong! It's all about winning!

By my lights, this looks like a sorry-ass apology to Australia, accomplished by way of referring to a (Another. Sorry)  historic incident about which he knows nothing.
Prediction borne out by the spectacular tongue bath he gave to that reptilian Murdoch.
Anyway, watch it. it will not disappoint.
Check list: 
The first successful Naval advance against the Japanese in the Pacific.
Even though a tactical defeat for the US, it sealed Japan's doom. 
Wait for it.
Also, the first Naval engagement in history where ship engaged ship and sunk same - while out of sight from one another.
It was just a prelude. The real deal came at Midway all of three weeks or so later. That was the decisive battle.
I'll leave it at that but; Here follows prattling I've done earlier about one of the heroes of both Coral Sea and Midway.
The most ass-kicking five-year-old ever to give better than she got only to end up being yet another thing for Bob Ballard to find.

USS Yorktown, CV-10.
USS Yorktown was abandoned off Midway in the course of what became the greatest Naval battle in history and the beginning of the end for Japan.
What's gallant and glorious is that just three weeks prior, during another historic sea-battle (Coral Sea. The first engagement fought by air against ships that were out of sight from one another) she was also in the shit.
At the ripe age of five, CV-10 took her lumps as the video below depicts.
She took one 500#  bomb on the flight-deck, just fifteen feet from the island. It went down six levels before exploding.
Another landed on the deck but bounced off and exploded in the water alongside.
That detonation, along with another near-miss, opened up seams in the hull and water started pouring in.
The damage-control men managed to keep her afloat. Then, even with a ten degree list and taking on water, she still managed to make twenty knots as she limped back to Pearl Harbor.
Next photo: where the bomb landed; as seen from directly beneath the flight-deck. Above, the spot where said bomb stopped and did its work.
When she arrived at Pearl on May 28, without even performing the safety procedure of pumping out the av-gas which would have taken an extra day she was immediately put into dry-dock.
Before the water in the dock was entirely pumped out, guys in waders, including Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, were splashing about, inspecting the hull.
Hull repair expert, Lt. Cmdr. H. J. Pfingstag, estimated that repairs would take ninety days - and here's where some serious, unsung gallantry on the part of ship-yard workers took place.
Nimitz moved the deadline - to three days.

And so it went that 1400 men, working around the clock put her right enough to allow her to sail out into the harbor on the 30th with lots of guys still working on the inside.
She wasn't "repaired" so much as "patched".
The sprung seams were simply covered over by a big hunk of steel, welded to the hull.
And off she went for Midway.
Once the battle had been joined she was again in the thick of it.
Her air group fatally damaged the Japanese aircraft carrier Soryu and shared in the destruction of the carrier Hiryu and cruiser Mikuma.
But, dive-bombers and torpedo planes again took their toll so the old girl was abandoned on the afternoon of June 4, 1942.
Salvage crews later went aboard and were well on their way to cobbling her back into a self-mobile state again when the Japanese submarine I-168 put a torpedo into her.

Finally, on the 7th, she gradually filled, capsized and sank - three miles deep.
Bob Ballard found her in 1998 'cause... he just gets to find all the cool stuff in the world.
So, she was dead at the age of five.
But before going down she had put the hurt on four Japanese carriers, two of which were sunk along with the cruiser mentioned above. Not bad for a month's work.
She hadn't been on the job long but, over the course of her less-than-six-months of combat service, she received the following honors:
American Defense Service Medal ("A" device)
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (3 stars)
World War II Victory Medal (awarded posthumously).
And how about a big shout-out to all those nameless hull-techs, machinist mates and civilian (Unionized) shipyard workers that achieved the impossible.
I won't call them "heroes", the reason being: That word is ridiculously over-used.
Chris Hayes from MSNBC got in trouble for bring this up the other day but I heartily agree.
I joined the Navy (High number. Little chance of the draft getting me) during which was technically wartime.
Now, even though I am a "Vietnam Era Veteran" I can categorically state: I am not a hero.
During seven years in the Guard, I could have volunteered to participate in George the 1st's let's-keep-gas-prices-low warlette.
Even if I had; still not a hero.
My Dad, with decorations to prove his status, would have taken serious issue with anyone referring to him as such. It would have embarrassed him.
The problem with loaded words like "hero" is best summed-up by the following quote:
"If you call Elvis Presley (or Costello for that matter) a musical genius, what do you do with Mozart?"
We need a draft.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Detroit music Acts That Kick Poopy-Pants Nugent's Ass!

If you have doing likewise and kicking said ass, I'd carry some plastic bags to put over your shoes 'cause... it's Ted.
First up: A Motown one-hit-wonder, The Contours circa 1962.

Motown is the whole, big fish that eats Ted's lunch and these guys are the small fry. We'll move right past the three girls from the projects, The Supremes.
Ted does not like chicks harshing his buzz.
So, 1966-ish:
Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels:

Okay, these two weren't really in Stinky-pant's genre. Fair enough.
Staying with our - generally - consecutive theme, here's MC5 in July, 1970. Probably about the time Ted was shitting his pants. Funny innit? You can say that about this douche and be absolutely literal.

Just 'cause, here's Vincent Furnier doing some early work on his stage persona as dissolute drunk.
See Ted, This is what stage-craft is all about.

Okay, you knew this was coming... Anyone who wants to be known as "The Motor City Madman" is going to have to first unseat Iggy Pop.
When they were starting out, MC5 referred to them affectionately as "Little MC5".

Oh Ted, You suck so hard. Let's pull your nasty pants down with something more AM friendly.

Speaking of which: Motown.
Ted fans, don't make me break out Stevie Wonder.

I'll do it.
Now to be fair, some or all of the above may have shit their pants out of expediency. It's not our place to judge.
But not one of them told an interviewer that they had - like a certain dumbass did.

Michigan senator huh?
Ted, scrub your ass-crack thoroughly. It's just a good general rule but especially if you're running for office. You have a bit of a reputation.
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