Star Bores, Epis…meh

— warning:  major spoiler —

Long story short:

Episode Four Redux with Luke replacing Obi-Wan.

I simply don’t have time and energy to enumerate my reasons for this comparative judgement.  Nor do I have time or energy to enumerate the other elements only making the film worse.

Nor my job to teach, preach, convince, or persuade– or, least of all, provoke a flame-war.  Such efforts regarding fiction,  are simply and relatively not worth much time or emotion.

If you enjoyed it, I’m sincerely happy for you.

And I had ass-umed this franchise would improve
without George Lucas.  D*oh!

© 2015 Landis McGauhey

Farewell, Obsolete Tradition

Good Kill

USA release April 2014
USA now available domestic-release

“Why do we wear flightsuits?”
— “Thomas Egan, Major, USAF” (Ethan Hawke)

to his squadron commander

— “Jack Johns, Lt. Col., USAF” (Bruce Greenwood)

Considerable numbers of casualties– ironically– and operational challenges loom on the radar of military-aviation services.

Ground-attack and close-air-support crew-onboard–“crewed”– aircraft are becoming dinosaurs.  And those who formerly crewed these former-types of aircraft likewise are becoming dinosaurs.  Be prepared, citizen-taxpayer:  the psychological casualties are high.  And, yes, these are casualties.  The aviators afflicted with this pain, and the pain of those near-and-dear, contradict the delusion of the proponents of the mythical “rugged-individual”.  These myth-mongers, their toxic doctrine is expressed in phrases like,  “Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder and Any-Psychological-Diagnosis-At-All Represent Shirking or Cowardice”.

Ground-attack and close-air-support craft with aircrew are being replaced by un-crewed aircraft.  These, of course, are “drones”.  Or, if you prefer typical maze-like military names, you can refer to one as “UAV”:  “Unmanned* Aerial Vehicle”.  And their former aircrew are being displaced from cockpit in a high-performance aircraft, to cubicle in an a building.

Good Kill excellently portrays the human cost to the combatants caught in this rough transition.  And both the film’s lead and support cast perfectly portray the impact of, many facets of, and arguments over, this transition.

Gone is the great self-fulfilment, self-esteem, and– for the luckiest who survive– self-actualization of the thrill and risk of saddling a small, high-performance aircraft to the “edge of the envelope”:  the edge of the aviator’s human limitations, and the edge of the aircraft’s system limitations.  Gone is the thrill (if one survives) of staring-down risk, danger, or even death and successfully accomplishing the mission, and surviving to tell the tale.  Never mistake these for adrenaline junkies or thrill-seekers or stunt pilots.  No.  These men and women have a gift, and they find fulfilment as this gift serves their love of nation, constitution, and people.  This gift, this love, are expressed through risk-taking.

In the place of these treasured if fearsome emotions is all the thrill and risk of an air-conditioned indoor cubicle thousands of miles from the battle field.

Thomas Egan– and many like him– are tossing through the wind-shear of emotions in this transition .  But the aviation services are climbing in the headwind of the rapid pace of electronic evolution.

Given this rapid pace, some former aircrew try to adapt by appearing stoic:  “It had to happen sometime”.  Others try to adapt by appearing cerebral as the try to calculate an alternate successful career path, outside the cockpit, to retirement .  Their cerebral and stoic appearances may cloak a perfect storm of emotional and cognitive struggles.

There is no cloak for the others.  In these others, struggles are visible to all.  These have comrades, superiors, spouses and children.  And all– along with their now-displaced aviators– are  subjected to the struggles of guilt, dysfunction, mal-adaptation, disorientation, a nostalgia comfortable as parachuting into the winter North Atlantic, and loss of self-esteem.  These aviators know all too painfully, no welcoming cockpit is represented by their uniform, winged-badge or not.  They are unable or unwilling to understand or believe it is time for them to permanently exit their beloved, esteemed cockpit.  They can’t or won’t permanently debark the cockpit.  For them, this disability has no cloak.

Rather, for these, any attempt at adaptation likely is through the swamp of emotional abuse of those they love most, and escape through mind-altering substances.

These aviators feel depreciated.  And probably they are correct: isolated in the crosshairs, this transition probably is a “simple” matter of cost-effectiveness, with principles of supply-and-demand.

Other demons haunt these mal-adapted aviators.  The services like to exorcise these demons with bland, benign incantations like “collateral damage”.   But through the zoom-lens of the recon cam of the drone, for the first time these aviators see the blood and anguish caused by victorious ground-attack missions.  The killed and wounded sometimes are innocents in the wrong place at the wrong time, yet for the first time plainly-visible the the aviators on their monitor-screens.  Such sights are naturally-disturbing to some aviators.

Yet, do they really think attack from cockpit rather than cubicle cost fewer innocent lives?

Behind all this confusion lies the haunting possibility the precision of the drones costs fewer innocents.

And the aviators suffer from cognitive dissonance:  hours of duty in aviation combat, yet situated in an air-conditioned cubicle 3,000 miles away.  That’s a lot of dissonance itself.  Yet, there’s more:  after these hours of combat, immediately it’s back-home to wifey or hubby and kids and doggy or kitty and home and everything’s great, no-worries; take out the trash, mow the lawn, let’s have a barbecue, right?  Yet more, much-more, haunting dissonance.

Now there are all kinds of arguments why this force-shift is or is not valid.  But their discussion, here is not the time or place.

Yet, in conclusion, a few notes, I think, bear upon the heading of this shift and its costs to our aviators and their comrades and loved-ones.

  • For generations, to stir their courage and maintain their reliability, these aviators have been wrapped in the distinction and perhaps vanity of traditions such as the squadron silk scarves ’round their necks.  And with these, always there’s been (what may seem aberrant to civilians) a stirring sense of romance.  But now, in the air-conditioned drone cubicle, these traditions, it’s embarrassingly obvious, have much-less– if any– effect or utility.  They’re lost anachronisms.  They’ve outlived their time and place.

“Why do we wear flight suits?”, indeed.

  • This shift to drones is here.  And no amount of anachronistic romance will scare it away.
  • And those in this field, those who protect us, are hurt and confused.  These, we citizen-taxpayers see well in Good KillWe see these, with irony and little wonder, as well as they now see the human consequences of their missions.

So those who protect us can adjust in a healthy, functional, productive way, let’s be ready to support them.

*the sexism of this nomenclature aside


American Sniper

My fundamental question:  was the technical adviser asleep or was Eastwood careless?  Or is Eastwood telling us things really were this FUBAR?  The following, I trust, therefore will be regarded not as typical-quibbling-old-soldier-“WELL, IN MY DAY..!”-nit-picking.  Rather, I trust the following will be regarded as serious.

For background, yes, I am an old soldier posted long, long ago to a galaxy far, far away.  I was not in Combat Arms and never shot at.

I have many questions.  I seek commentary from those with contemporary or recent combat experience in U.S. infantry or SPECOP’s .

Here’s why I ask:

These scenes really left me incredulous:

1.  Commercial cell network interface with military satphone network.  Really?  Possible?  Allowed?  And, indeed, wasn’t that a satphone– not a cellphone– he used a couple of times to talk with his wife (as, for example, when she exited the doctor’s office)?  Note:  neither cellphones or satphones existed in my day.

2.  Is it not fundamental sniper doctrine, upon squeezing the trigger, to immediately collect your brass and beat feet?

3.  If #2 is correct, does not fundamental sniper doctrine therefore require a sniper, in his/her area of operations, to have a couple of pre-selected hidey-holes, preferably from different angles?  Does not such action greatly-increase the psy-ops aspect of sniping?

4.  Making a passive-aggresive sarcastic remark to a superior officer, especially in anyone else’s presence, and then just stomp out of the room without being dismissed and saluting? Really?!?  Not at least an Article-15 (if that term is still in use) matter?

5.  Infantry all bunched-up (as they seemed to be in the street-sweeps).  Really?  Does not fundamental infantry doctrine call for soldiers to spread out, so an RPG or any other grenade takes-out fewer– or, if, I hope, no– friendlies?

Otherwise, a big thanks to those on the IMDB discussion board who explained the cellphone-in-the-field issue.

“He’s got it! I think he’s got it!”

LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 08 2010: Marion Cotillard (“Mal”) and Leonardo DeCaprio (“Cobb”) attend the world premiere of “Inception” at the Odeon Leicester Square. 

Author: Ian Gavan
© 2010 Getty Images
Used by license


Two nights ago, I viewed Inception for the nth time (through a chain of events I’ll spare you as it’s guaranteed to bore you silly). And…I followed the thread!  For the first time!  Down through all five layers.

Now, I don’t claim to understand the film.  I don’t claim to know what was happening or to know the meaning of the conclusion.

But, both, I believe I understand now.  Gonna take one or two more viewings to be sure.  After all, the writers indeed give us plenty of clues.

This new insight reinforces my deep admiration for Christopher Nolan.  After all, way back when, I believe I understood Memento.  So why the heretofore mental block on the much-more-recent– and, in my opinion, no moreso brain-teasing– Inception, I don’t know.

Now I’ve caught and held the thread, I can for the first time enjoy the psy-thrill facet of this gem.  And I can revel even more in the sheer delight of the incomparable FX.  This film will be a delight to watch for years. In short, I’m glad I purchased the disc.

Watch this space.