Monday, February 24, 2014


A church minister, dressed as Elvis Presley, has crossed a so-called peace line in Belfast in a bid to promote peace and reconciliation work.

The Reverend Andy Kelso fits in performances as a professional Elvis impersonator around his day job as a Church of England minister.

The movie, “Shadow Dancer” is one slice of the struggle in Northern Ireland. It is one of those odd movies that you are glad you found, mainly for history—the IRA in Ireland; a movie that keeps you on the edge. No real redeeming hero. Well, there was one but he was killed. The female lead was great. She looked the part: a terrorist who went over to the British to save her child. 

Movie did stress one thing that is reality in the world in which we live. When you have fanatics, they let nothing interfere with their ideology, least of all human life. Sorry MFers. 

And, now there is peace in Northern Ireland. As one who claims Irish kinship, (actually named for a distant relative, Gerry), I was in Vietnam with a guy who left the American Army to fight for the IRA. We had several conversations where I tried to reason with him. He was really a good guy and good soldier but he was at the stage, “don’t confuse me with facts, I have my mind made up.” 

Attempting to grasp the complexities, in this case, the 
movie, “Shadow Dancer—even who the players were, not easy. Good movie and helps with some hopefulness, peace can be achieved if people work hard enough at it.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Marion Bridge

MARION BRIDGE. Good pensive movie. Incredibly well acted. Movie is a good example of "everybody has a story." Three sisters. Alcoholic mom who is dying. Long suffering sister who can't let former husband go although he appears to be selfish p...k! Sister who returns home to look after mother is recovering alcoholic, sexually abused by father who gets her pregnant. Ellen Page is  the now teenage daughter of the sexual abuse. Youngest daughter is a lesbian coming out. Need I go on. Everybody has a story. Good movie with a dozen story lines. A truly sad one is the now dementia father who is "out of it" and the pain he caused goes on. To confront him is useless.

Movies are great for the fact that they can make happen exactly what they want to happen. In this case most all stories got resolved or at least "faced." Not a bad thing. Real life is not so easy. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Airborne Olympics

Watching the Olympics, I reflected on what it meant to be a soldier in an “elite” military unit, like the 82d Airborne, as compared to an Olympian. An example of a day or so in the life of a paratrooper: Sleep, what the hell is that? In the 82d Airborne, a soldier would be on his first jump at daybreak, about 6AM. He/she had to be at “Green Ramp” which was the assembly point, two hours ahead of time. That meant the paratrooper had to be there at four. In essence, he was up all night. Then by the time he “jumps,” (parachuting from a plane), it is noon. Then, more than likely after the jump, comes an exercise (called live fire) which would last all day. Then the paratroopers were loading up again from the “field” to go to the jumping off point, Green Ramp, to jump again. The soldier would repeat the process. Part of the training is to see how fighting men can function without sleep. They were up about two days and nights by this time—Sleepless. The paratroopers hardly knew their names, so tired and sleep deprived. This is pretty much a soldier’s life in the 82d Airborne. I think I had rather be an Olympian.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


Downton Abbey is a soap opera, season 4, set in England just prior to WWll. (Not even sure I have all this right) I am more amazed that we are fixated on the English life of Earls and Dukes, big land owners, titles which is all bullshit and an anathema to all we believe and stand for. I AM GUILTY: HOOKED ON DOWNTON ABBEY. 

Consequently, what is it that make Americans like me who love America and our way of life watch DA? Could I get back to you on that? Well, the characters are compelling, acting is good and it is a way of life none of us know much about. We do have "class" in America but we deny it. We are not bound to it because there is the over riding concept of freedom. Even the poorest can say to a government official, the rich, the powerful, go f..k yourself. He might get fired, evicted, whatever but he can still do it and nobody blinks am eye. In San Fran, you can stand on any street corner and hear five languages. And, most everybody gets along. 

I don't know why we love this particular soap. To be honest, I often thought the same with my mom. She watched all the soaps, "As The World Turns, Shining Light, whatever." When I was in college, she would call me up with a guilt trip, "you never come home." (Not True) I would pile in my old 49 Ford and head out. She hugged and kissed me and resumed watching her soaps She would often talk about the characters like they were real. Hope it is not in my genes. 

Downton Abby has its detractors but not many that I see. Weird with servants, waited on,  hand and foot, as my Mom would say. None of them would know work if it ran over them. Well hell, the Brits still have a Queen. I don't get it. LOL. But I am not going to quit watching. Like many "Mericans," I am hooked. I want Bates to kill the man who raped his wife. He knows who it is. My favorite character is Carson, the head servant and the keeper of tradition. See what I mean. Mary is coming around. Matthew, her deceased husband, was a favorite. Issues are not lightweight: abortion, race; almost worth watching for Maggie Smith. I am looking for me a Downton Abbey hero. I'll get back to you. 

Friday, February 14, 2014


THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN Talk about a heavy movie. My wife and  I ran across it on "On Demand" which is our cable system. In a sense, we really didn't know what we were getting. It is a study in "grief." Sad is not even close to the concept. Two highly "edgy" people discover each other. One a tattoo artist and the other a farmer/musician. An unplanned pregnancy and the birth of an adorable child but as she grows up, "cancer." The movie shows treatment, losing hair, all the things that this insidious disease forces victims to deal with. Sad beyond belief. The child goes to the "next life." (heaven, a concept that is comforting to me). 

The movie deals with how this couple handles or doesn't handle their grief. The film touches the depth of someone's loss. The director cleverly uses flashbacks to fill in crevices of the overwhelming grief. Even proofing this, makes my heart heavy. 

As a Vietnam vet who lives with a touch of permanent grief, I was moved bigtime. The choice of music: "bluegrass" was so great. I bought the album which is a first for me. The interspersing of gospel music was genius. 

I love movies that tackle the most difficult of experiences and this one does in spades. I hope it will be seen by many. You almost think it is an American movie, based on songs and dialogue but not: the couple lives in Belgium and the movie is from the Netherlands. 

I really don't even know who should see this movie. After watching, I was emotionally spent. How did they handle their grief? How do we handle our grief? Suck it up and see this movie. 

Monday, February 10, 2014



 I am still thinking of the young soldier severely wounded in action, showcased at the State of the Union speech. It made even the greatest skeptic like me pause. Very inspiring. Ten minutes of ovation. And, rightly so. The “talking heads” have basically said, “this is the thing the president’s speech will be remembered for.” I hope so but doubt it. Politics has a short attention span. 
Here is where the rub comes for me, an old soldier. Applauding at a televised media event with a smidgen of politics thrown in is one thing. Serving your country by being in the military is another story. I would like to know how many congressmen/women have served or if their children have. 
This isn’t a hit on those not serving. With a volunteer Army, they can choose. What we have now is a military made up of only an extremely small segment of the American society. Most affluent parents don’t want them to be in the military, in potentially harms way. I certainly wouldn’t if I had boys. 
When my generation came along, we had to deal with the draft. It was part of our culture. The draft ain’t going to ever happen again. That train has left the station. And, we are the worst for it. We were sold a bill of goods by economist Milt Friedman and then Secretary of Defense, Melvin Laird. Friedman actually said something like, “in a democracy having compulsory service is unAmerica.” We were duped. We now know from collateral damage that it is the opposite. 
We will continue to applaud Army Ranger, Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg who almost paid the ultimate sacrifice. Soldiers like SFC Remsburg bare the brunt while other young men and women, his age, sit on the sidelines. 
The flip side of the coin is to acknowledge that our f..k ups contributed to his being put in harms way in the first place. It doesn’t take anything away from his sacrifice, just hi-lites our stupidity. Americans who care should be incensed, if not ashamed, that we have played a part in SFC Remsburg’s sacrifice and no amount of applause will make up for his loss. 
10 tours in Iraq/Afghanistan? How the f..k did that happen? I can tell you: a small military necessitating repetitive tours, senior commanders on the ground being stupid—strategies that have little or no chance of working. I could go on and on. Yes, we can applaud but any way you slice it, we all are complicit in the tragedy of SFC Remsburg’s story. God bless him.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Phillip Seymour Hoffman

The subject of late (no pun intended) is Phillip Seymour Hoffman and drugs. He overdosed on heroin. I've heard past interviews with him (Terry Gross on NPR and Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes)--you could tell he was pretty guarded and maybe high. No judgement just opinion. His life belongs to him. If he wants to f..k it up, up to him. I don't have any sense of personal loss other than what the f..k would cause a talented actor to be so stupid. Addiction, I guess. 

Maybe we'll be awakened from our stupor about the danger of drugs. Here's what I think has happened with us. With the legalizing of pot in CO and Washington State, Americans who give a s..t, have kind of said, "drugs are OK."  F..K NO. Wake up and smell the roses. Come out from underneath the ether. What have you been smoking?


Maybe Hoffman's death will spur us on to realize what dope can do. And,  pot is dope. Let's face it, it is the primary gateway drug to other drugs. And, trust me on this: I have beaucoup data. 

I have never known an addict who didn't start with pot. I am not some evangelist for recognizing that there aren't pot smokers who use it recreationally. But, let's get away from this bullshit that marijuana
 is a harmless drug. It ain't! And, if I had my way, I would be enforcing the drug laws and be all over CO and Washington State like white on rice. Medical pot I would go for. Even as much a sham as that is, anyone who wants to legally smoke pot, has to go to some trouble. 

Already Hoffman's death has sparked lots of talk as to where we are in America with drugs. From what I've heard, there seems to be a pattern with heroin addiction of the Hoffman kind. Prescription drugs, then the addicts reach a point where they either can't get them any longer or they become too expensive. They go to a much cheaper heroin--a complicated transition. Some get hooked, others don't; differences in drugs, alcohol, on and on. 

What is the answer? There is no answer. I feel so sorry for loved ones who have to live with this. One kid said this, "I hurt my parents with my lying, alcoholism, eating disorder, drug addiction and suicide attempts."  What can you do about this? Nothing but the very best we can.

In my experience of counseling soldiers, I had very little success and the Army didn't help. With the Volunteer Army which has now produced a recruitment scandal, they gave soldiers a "piss" (sorry to be so crude, I am trying to make a point) test and if they tested positive, threw them out of the military. That was about as helpful in facing the problem as telling an obese person, "just eat a carrot." Stupid. 

To me, the only thing us drugstore cowboys (meaning those of us standing on the sidelines), can offer: for goodness sakes, don't fall into "denial." Face it. If your son or daughter or whoever has a drug problem, own up. The late Carroll O'Conner, my good Irish buddy, known as Archie Bunker, said about his son who committed suicide, something like this, "get between your children and drugs any way you can." In other words, don't deny. Face it and get help. There is help out there and don't give up till you find it. 

Phillip Seymour Hoffman telegraphed his intentions and somebody should have taken him, as my brother use to say, by the knap of the neck and kicked his ass until he woke up. 

One of my favorite patients died today, she was only 48 years old, she has a 10 years old daughter. 

An Infusion Center Nurse sent this to me. My friend was somewhat impatient of those like Phillip Seymour Hoffman. "They waste their lives. They have everything and waste it. Here we have our patients, everyone fighting for their lives. They have families, children, ambitions and often they are dying. So, yes, I am somewhat less tolerant of these drug addicts like Phillip Seymour 
Hoffman. Sorry.

Saturday, February 01, 2014


Unseemly. (Inappropriate) This was a word my dad used all the time if he saw something that he thought was wrong or if questionable. Michelle Obama coming to San Fran for money seems "unseemly." She fired up the women who showed. If you forked over 30 grand you could maybe shake her hand. Hell, I don't know. If you went to the Michelle event and were a lowly "serf", you could see her from a distance for a hundred bucks. 

I am a good Democrat. I guess I am the only person in America who feels this way as I am a white boy from NC and have no credibility. But, Michelle's visit sure as hell would fit in the category of "unseemly," to me.  

As one who thinks that women would do a better job than men in running the world, I am not backing away from the  "unseemly" view, however. I don't care much for politicians anyway. We elect them, their behavior is often "unseemly" and we put them right back in office.  It is our fault. Two examples: Senator Diane Finestein that I basically like--Her husband gaining financially from a competitive contract to sell government properties. It is legal and all appears to be in order but it is "unseemly" to me. My Rep., Pelosi, had an entire law created because she made millions from insider trading which at the time was legal for Congress. "Unseemly." F..K!!!!!