'Joker' is definitely not going to be a 'Batman' movie - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie

Joker was always going to be a different kind of Batman movie. It might not even to be fair to call it a Batman movie, centered as it is on Gotham’s most infamous criminal and not its most famous orphan. But besides a narrative focus beyond good vs. evil, what sets this movie apart is its relationship with its source material.

“We didn’t follow anything from the comic books, which people are gonna be mad about,” writer-director Todd Phillips said in an upcoming interview with Empire. You read that right: instead of basing the script on a graphic novel or cobbling it together from different comic books, Phillips wrote an original story.


“We just wrote our own version of where a guy like Joker might come from. That’s what was interesting to me. We’re not even doing Joker, but the story of becoming Joker. It’s about this man,” Phillips added.

JOKER – Teaser Trailer

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Instead of pitting the character, be it zoot suited Jack Nicholson in a zoot suit or a shirtless Jared Leto, against Batman, the Joker script is about Arthur Blank’s descent into Travis Bickle-like madness. If it sounds like a role designed for Phoenix, a notoriously intense actor, that’s because it is.

“We had a photo of him above our computer while we were writing,” he told the magazine. We constantly thought, ‘God, imagine if Joaquin actually does this.'”

Well, he actually did it, but you’ll have to wait until Oct. 4, 2019, to see exactly where on the “inspired by” to “based on” spectrum Phillips’s film falls.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

Articles

This former paratrooper is now a country music megastar

Craig Morgan Greer is a former fire support specialist who served in the U.S. Army’s 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions before becoming a country music star with seven songs that reached Billboard’s Top 10 most-played country tracks. His top hit, “That’s What I Love About Sundays,” spent six weeks at number 1.


‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie
Craig Morgan performs on Crete, an island in Greece, during a USO tour. (Photo: Steve Manuel, USO)

The veteran, who performs under the name Craig Morgan, is releasing a new album but still finds plenty of times to go on USO tours and stop by military bases to visit troops, an activity he says is near and dear to his heart.

The tours can feel strange for him though, since he’s treated like a VIP while he still thinks of himself as a soldier. This is especially true when he visits his former duty stations like Fort Campbell or Fort Bragg.

“It’s super odd, even still to this day, many years later,” he told WATM. “I’m not a VIP, I’m a soldier. It’s emotional. I mean, I had children born on both of those bases.”

‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie
Craig Morgan Greer while serving in Korea. (Photo courtesy Craig Morgan)

While Morgan is very proud of his veteran status and open about it, he’s surprised that many of his fans and peers in the industry don’t know that he served. His new album’s title track, “A Whole Lot More To Me,” is partially about the fact that he wasn’t always a performer.

“I find it amazing that having been in the music industry for this long, there are still people who don’t know I was in the military,” he said. “That’s crazy to me. That’s what this record is about. There’s a whole lot more to me than country music and pickup trucks.”

The music video for a new song on the album even includes shots of his time in uniform as well as video of Morgan visiting troops and conducting activities, like PT, with them.

While the new album contains direct references to Craig Morgan’s time in the military, he says that most of his songs have ties to the service.

“The music always reflects back, at some point for me, to my experiences in my life, and since most of my life was in the military, they all relate back to it.”

One standout hit has a surprise military connection. “Redneck Yacht Club,” a 2005 song about a bunch of country boys taking their boats onto the lake for a party, is tied to his time slipping away from the post during downtime in the Army.

‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie
Craig Morgan sings to a group of service members during a USO tour on Okinawa, Japan. (Photo: Steve Manuel, USO)

“I remember being at Fort Bragg and going to the lake or to Louisiana to get on the water,” he said.

Morgan, who spent over six years in the Reserves after serving for nearly 10 on active duty, says that he still misses the military from time-to-time, especially after USO tours.

“When I come home I pout around a little bit because I feel like I should be back in the Army,” he said.

Craig Morgan’s new album is available for pre-order on his website. It comes out on Jun. 3 nationwide.

MIGHTY CULTURE

PBS Memorial Day Concert to air May 24, 2020

Capital Concerts announced that a special presentation of the NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT, hosted by Tony Award-winner Joe Mantegna and Emmy Award-winner Gary Sinise, will air on PBS and feature new performances and tributes filmed around the country to honor all of our American heroes.

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the traditional live concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol will not be held – to ensure the health and safety of all involved.

The special 90-minute presentation of the NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT will air on Sunday, May 24, 2020, as a celebration to the heroes currently fighting COVID-19. This year marks its 31st year as a way to honor and remember our troops, Veterans, wounded warriors, all those who have given their lives for our nation and their families.


“In this unprecedented time, when the nation needs it most, we will bring Americans together as one family to honor our heroes,” said Executive Producer Michael Colbert. “This has been the mission of the NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT for 30 years, and we look forward to sharing stories and music of support, hope, resilience, and patriotism.”

America’s national night of remembrance will feature new appearances and performances by distinguished American statesman, including: General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret); Tony, Emmy and Grammy winner and two-time Oscar nominee, Cynthia Erivo; world-renowned four-time Grammy Award-winning soprano superstar Renée Fleming; country music star and Grammy-nominated member of the Grand Ole Opry, Trace Adkins; Grammy Award-winning gospel legend CeCe Winans; Tony Award-winning Broadway star Kelli O’Hara; Tony Award-nominated actress Mary McCormack; members of the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of top pops conductor Jack Everly; and a special message from General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Broadway and television star Christopher Jackson will open the show with a performance of the national anthem. The broadcast will also feature performances from previous concerts by Academy Award-nominated actor Sam Elliott; Oscar nominee and Emmy and Tony-Award winner Laurence Fishburne; and actor/producer/director Esai Morales.

Woven throughout the program will be messages of thanks and support from prominent guest artists for active-duty military, National Guard and Reserve and their families, Veterans, and Gold Star families; the messages include gratitude for for first responders, doctors, nurses, grocery clerks, truck drivers, postal workers – all those who are on the front lines, putting their lives at risk now in the fight against this virus.

Hosts Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise will also share several powerful segments that highlight stories of generations of ordinary Americans who stepped forward and served our country with extraordinary valor in its most challenging times.

The NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT airs on PBS Sunday, May 24, 2020, from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. E.T., as well as to our troops serving around the world on the American Forces Network. The concert will also be streaming on Facebook, YouTube and www.pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert and available as Video on Demand, May 24 to June 7, 2020.

Other participants

Also participating in new and some past selected performances are members from the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, the U.S. Army Chorus, the U.S. Army Voices and Downrange, the Soldiers’ Chorus of the U.S. Army Field Band, the U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters, the U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants, and Service Color Teams provided by the Military District of Washington, D.C.

The program is a co-production of Michael Colbert of Capital Concerts and WETA, Washington, D.C. Executive producer Michael Colbert has assembled an award-winning production team that features the top Hollywood talent behind some of television’s most prestigious entertainment awards shows, including the ACADEMY AWARDS, GRAMMY AWARDS, COUNTRY MUSIC AWARDS, TONY AWARDS, and more.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Pilot wearing ‘Maverick’ helmet caught flying through Star Wars canyon

A sharp-eyed aviation photographer caught a photo of a U.S. Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet two-seat variant transiting through the Star Wars canyon, one of the most popular western U.S. low-flying areas, earlier this month during what appears to be filming of in-cockpit sequences for the upcoming “Top Gun: Maverick” movie.

The photo, posted to Instagram by Christopher Lohff (@lohffingfoto), shows the pilot/front-seater wearing the same HGU-68/P lightweight flight helmet with custom graphics as seen in previously leaked photos from the production of “Top Gun: Maverick”. The upcoming film, slated for release on June 26, 2020 in the U.S., is likely entering the final stages of its production phase before going to post-production and editing.


[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/BvdEMuyAKOK/ expand=1]Christopher Lohff on Instagram: “Someone’s excited for the Top Gun sequel! This VFA-122 Flying Eagles F/A-18F pilot was sporting what I can only recognize as Maverick’s…”

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Another interesting detail in the photo is the appearance of an array of what appears to be four of the new Sony VENICE CineAlta video cameras on the coaming of the rear cockpit. The new Sony VENICE CineAlta is a full-frame, 36x24mm digital video camera that shoots at a maximum resolution of 6048×4032 and can be modified to shoot at even higher quality resolution. The cameras cost about ,000 USD each without lenses or upgrades for higher resolution.

The Sony VENICE CineAlta array seen in the F/A-18 appears includes four rearward-facing cameras in the aft cockpit of the F/A-18 with various focal length lenses including at least two very wide-angle lenses. The camera array is fitted to the top of the rear cockpit coaming at the top of the instrument panel with a custom machined mount.

These photos give a clue about what some of the in-cockpit sequences may look like when the film debuts next year.

Just before the photos from the western low-flying areas appeared on Instagram, the Internet was filled with “spy” photos of an F-14 Tomcat being used in filming for the upcoming movie. The appearance of the Tomcat suggests a retrospective sequence, some kind of “flashback” to the original “Top Gun” in this upcoming release.

[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/BvkSnlkl6uJ/ expand=1]Skid Voodoo on Instagram: “Our Hero Tomcat should be returning to the San Diego Air & Space Museum Annex soon. Its service to the new film is coming to a close after…”

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The F-14 Tomcat that was sighted around Coronado Island and North Island NAS also showed up on the deck of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) for some filming sequences. One sequence included the aircraft being stopped in the large net/arresting barrier used for emergency recoveries onboard ship. The F-14 used in the filming is likely Grumman F-14A Tomcat #159638, an aircraft previously on display at the San Diego Air Space Museum’s Gillespie Annex in El Cajon, California.

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Why one line about WWI would make an amazing Harry Potter movie

The Harry Potter books and movies are iconic works of fiction for the younger generations. While the various plots are set in a magical, adjacent version of our own world, the stories take place almost entirely within the encapsulated, magical world. Except that it’s officially canon that wizards (and dragons) fought in WWI.


In Warner Brother’s 2016 film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Themthe awkward Newt Scamander, as played by Eddie Redmayne, comes to America to continue his journey of writing a book on magical animals. He bumps into the non-magical Jacob Kowalski, as played by Dan Fogler, and the plot kicks off. Initially, the two characters don’t understand or like each other until they have a heart-to-heart conversation.

They bond when Kowalski tells Scamander about his service in WWI. Scamander asks, “you fought in the war?” Kowalski says, “of course I fought in the war. Everyone fought in the war. You didn’t fight in the war?” To which Scamander replies,

I worked mostly with dragons, Ukrainian Ironbellies, Eastern Front.

It’s a deep scene that ends with the two forming a brotherhood rooted in shared service.

‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie
Eddie Redmayne also starred in a TV Serial set in WWI called Birdsong. (BBC One’s Birdsong)

Yes. That means, in the Harry Potter universe, WWI occurred just as it did in the real world. There were gigantic battles involving wizards and dragons that took place alongside the normal WWI trench-warfare.

This is confirmed through J.K. Rowling’s other works on Pottermore, which is a cannon supplementary site on which the author expands her universe. She describes that wizards were barred from helping the normal world, but did anyway. This was actually a huge turning point in the overall story because it’s one of the reasons why wizards don’t interact with non-wizards.

To top it all off, she also wrote about Henry Potter, Harry’s great-grandfather and namesake. Henry Potter was one of the British Wizards who participated in the trench warfare of WWI. His friendship with the non-magical world also played a huge role in Harry’s backstory because it’s why his family was shunned by most of the magical community.

MIGHTY MOVIES

7 reasons Jack Burton was the warfighter I always wanted to be

Before joining the service, I thought everyone in the military was somehow fighting and killing bad guys. I looked to movies and television to try to put myself into the mindset of who I wanted to be if I had to fight a real battle.

Clearly, I no idea what I was getting into. That’s where the similarities between the badass antihero from Big Trouble In Little China and myself end.


Years before Die Hard changed every action movie that came after it into some version of Die Hard, the dream-team duo of John Carpenter and Kurt Russell brought us this bizarre but awesome story of a man determined to help save his new friends that have been captured by a mystical, ancient Chinese cult.

Jack Burton was a John Wayne in a world full of Bruce Lees. But it wasn’t swagger that made me admire this custom-booted character. Jack Burton was way deeper than he seemed — all you had to do was look.

He had heart. He had dedication. Dammit, he had fun.

‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie
He also rocked an A-shirt long before John McClane.

‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie

“This is Jack Burton in the Porkchop Express and I’m talkin’ to whoever’s listening out there.”

Jack Burton drops pearls of wisdom.

The saltiest warriors have been around the world and they’ve seen some things most us can’t comprehend. When they try to tell you about it, it all just seems unbelievable. That’s why wise, older warriors impart wisdom by giving practical advice, not by relating one specific story. Just listen to Jack Burton:

When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, and he looks you crooked in the eye and he asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol’ Jack Burton always says at a time like that: “Have ya paid your dues, Jack?” “Yessir, the check is in the mail.”

Jack Burton is okay with being the sidekick.

Being in the military isn’t about glory, it’s not about being in the spotlight, and it definitely isn’t about the money. Big Trouble in Little China is about Wang Chi rescuing his girlfriend. When a Chinese street gang abducts her, Jack Burton is right there to fight the good fight, because it’s the right thing to do.

‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie

“Hey, I’m a reasonable guy, but I’ve just experienced some very unreasonable things.”

Even when the sh*t gets deep, Jack Burton does not run.

Jack Burton is just an average, ass-kickin’ kind of guy (with amazing reflexes). He’s used to a good, fair fight and knows when to back off. But just because he’s seeing some sh*t he’s never seen before doesn’t mean he’s going to turn and run. He’s going to stay and fight until he knows he can’t win.

‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie

“You people sit tight, hold the fort, and keep the home fires burning. And if we’re not back by dawn… call the president.”

Jack Burton has the right gear for the job.

Those boots, my dude. Those boots are custom.

‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie

“May the Wings of Liberty never lose a feather.”

Jack Burton is all about intel.

It’s not all about throwing around weight and fists for Jack Burton. When the situation demands it, he’s willing to be more subtle; less swagger and more cloak-and-dagger. He gathers all the information he can before he starts kicking in doors.

‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie

“We may be trapped.”

People want to follow a leader like Jack Burton.

Some may call it cockiness, but I see self-confidence. Jack Burton stands up for what’s right: saving ladies in distress, helping people who’ve been abducted, good fighting evil, etc. People fighting with him see it and they love him for it. Remember: Jack Burton only ever met one person in all of Big Trouble In Little China and he is still fighting with them.

‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie

“Everybody relax, I’m here.”

Despite his shortcomings, Jack Burton gets the job done.

He’s not John McClane. He’s not James Bond. There’s very little about Jack Burton that can be called “smooth.” He can stay up all night drinking and gambling, but will keep fighting for days. Like the professional he is, he operates just as well on the third day of combat as he did on the first.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Disney World has a special resort hotel just for US troops

Already planning that special family getaway for next summer? If you’re thinking Disney World might be a little too expensive for your family, think again. Not only does the Magic Kingdom want more visits from more troops, but they’ve even created a special VIP place inside the kingdom just for American soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and yes, Coast Guardsmen.

It’s a place for all shades of green and as a matter of fact, they call it Shades of Green.


‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie

Legit.

(US Army)

Situated between two golf courses, now everyone who stays at Shades of Green can feel like they’re really in the Air Force for just a little while. Military members and their families can get discounts on food, stays, and park admission while staying here too – and it’s all just a stones throw away from the Disney World parks. The newly-renovated hotel area even has a direct walkway to the park. It is the only Armed Forces Recreation Center located in the continental United States and room rates are based on rank, starting with the lowest rates for E-1 to E-6 military personnel.

Before you start booking, be sure to check the resort’s eligibility requirements. To stay at Shades of Green, you must be an active duty service member, a retired service member, a surviving spouse, or a 100 percent service-connected disabled veteran. There are more categories to list but if you’re unsure, check out the eligibility requirements before you book. Sorry, regular vets with an honorable discharge. That’s not enough to stay on the Disney World AFRC any time you want. But through the Salute to Veterans program, honorably discharged vets can stay during the months of January and September.

‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie

Sure beats Minot in September.

(US Army)

If you’re wondering if January and September are worth the wait, keep in mind that Shades of Green has a great place in the area near Walt Disney World, very close to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and sits right between two PGA-level golf courses. Besides the pools, spas, and restaurants that one would expect at a Disney World Resort, the Shades of Green Resort also boasts Princess and Pirate Makeovers for the kids, arcades, tennis courts, and playgrounds (just in case the kids have a lot of extra energy to burn at the end of the day).

For the adults, the resorts boasts world-class bars and restaurants, along with a giant outlet mall filled with 50 different retail brand names. To top it all off, the resort even has an AAFES Exchange store, where you can still use your military benefits to get tax-free items for every day as well as Disney souvenirs.

Since the Shades of Green is a DoD Morale, Welfare, and Recreation facility, all proceeds from the resort go right back into keeping the facilities up and expanding its offerings.

‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie

Aside from the usual military discounts and benefits, the reasons for staying at Shades of Green are many. The resort’s rooms are larger than most other resorts on the Disney World Complex and the rooms are exempt from the Hotel Tax imposed on all other rooms in Florida and beyond. The best part is, the agreement between the DoD and Disney means that the rooms’ quality must meet Disney standards, so you aren’t staying in some forgotten lodging room somewhere. Also included are access to Disney FastPass services and Extra Magic Hours, and the monorail is just a short hike away from nearby Polynesian Springs.

So now there’s no excuse not to go to Disney World. You don’t even have to leave behind the comforts of the base or post when AAFES and MWR are traveling with you.

MIGHTY MOVIES

LA veterans bring ‘Henry IV’ with Tom Hanks to the stage

Those attending the current four-week run of The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles’ production of “Henry IV” at the West Los Angeles VA Campus may immediately recognize Tom Hanks as Falstaff, but what they probably don’t realize is that a crew of veterans not only built the stage, but are also working behind the scenes to make the production a success.

“It’s exciting to partner with The Shakespeare Center to provide our veterans incredible opportunities like the chance to work alongside professional actors, and to view live entertainment right here on the West LA VA campus,” said Ann Brown, director of VA’s Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. “Partnerships like this one are vital to bringing the vision for this campus to life and to transform it into a vibrant, welcoming, veteran-centric community.”


“Henry IV” performances began June 5, 2018, and run through July 1, 2018, at the Japanese Garden located on the West Los Angeles VA Campus. The Shakespeare Center, in partnership with West LA VA, set aside 2,000 tickets for eligible veterans and active duty service members free of charge. To find out more on these tickets, visit http://www.ShakespeareCenter.org to receive information about reservations when they become available.

“We’re grateful to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and the leaders of the West LA VA for this opportunity to bring our company to the Japanese Garden at the VA,” said Ben Donenberg, the founder and executive artistic director of The Shakespeare Center prior to construction. “We’re hiring and training 40 veterans to work on this production alongside consummate theater professionals to tell a riveting story about the forging of a Shakespearean hero. We’re proud to bring the vision of one of the American theatre’s most esteemed Broadway directors and the talents a world-class cast lead by Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks, our long-time supporters, to this very special venue.”

Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks, have been long-time supporters of the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles through their 26 consecutive years of hosting and participating in Simply Shakespeare, a no holds barred impromptu reading of a Shakespeare comedy with celebrity casts and musicians that raises funds and awareness.

“The VA location speaks to our mission to present Shakespeare in urgent, vital, relevant and accessible ways that reflect the history, landscape and people of Los Angeles,” Donenberg said. “Our work with the VA and veterans inspires personal and community transformation.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This journalist witnessed the rise of ISIS up close—and now he’s telling the story​

In 2007 I was a fresh-out-to-pasture journalist, trying not to lose my sanity as an Army wife and stay at home mom. I had worked most recently as a reporter for The Fayetteville Observer, but my husband, a Special Forces soldier, kept getting deployed. We couldn’t afford a nanny, and no daycare in town stayed open late enough to watch our son until I could get off work.


The Observer offered me an opportunity to write a blog and two weekly columns from home, and that’s how I came to meet Mike Giglio, a fresh-out-of-college writer for Charlotte Magazine, working on a story about military families at Ft. Bragg.

Giglio has written a book now, “Shatter the Nations: ISIS and the War for the Caliphate” – an open wound of a book, as raw and bleeding as the conflict itself.

But back in 2007, he came to my house, sat in my living room, made the requisite comments about the adorableness of my toddler, and interviewed me. He has since told me that I was the first person he had interviewed about war. He has interviewed many, many more people since. He wrote then:

Rebekah Sanderlin looks like an Army wife from a movie: the hero pulls out her picture in the opening scene, she has dark hair, engaging eyes, and a warm smile, she’s holding his kid, and you’re already hoping he makes it out of this thing alive.

12 years and as many deployments later, my husband and I are still married and, indeed, he appears to have made it out of this thing alive.

I followed Giglio’s career from a distance after that, watching as his byline hopped up to the big leagues and then across the ocean, first to London and then to Istanbul, and then right into the heart of war.

Now a journalist for The Atlantic, he spent four years living in Turkey and Syria, interviewing members of the Islamic State, their enablers, and legions of others who were pushing back against ISIS’ terror quest for power, embedding with U.S. military units as well as low-level groups of resistance fighters.
‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie

(The Atlantic)

His book is part memoir, part chronicle. We see the early movements of ISIS in the form of sources and scoops that grow into defeats and victories. He is unflinching in the descriptions but avoids the war-porn tendencies lesser writers find irresistible. There are no heroes and no villains, only humans showing up, day after day. Characters come and go, lost to war and the swirling chaos of life. There are no neat and tidy endings. This is news – news never ends.

His sparse, direct, writing style is appropriately like chewing on broken glass. A book about ISIS shouldn’t be overwrought. There’s too much gore, too much horror, too much human misery, for a writer in love with adjectives. No one needs those adjectives.

Of an Iraqi Special Forces soldier, he writes:

“So when militiamen kidnapped Ahmed from a checkpoint in Baghdad one day, they didn’t just torture him. They put a circular saw to his forehead and tried to peel off his face. Then they put a hood over his head, shot him five times, and tossed his body in a garbage dump, thinking he was dead. Ahmed survived, though, and was found by an elderly man, who carried him to a hospital. When he recovered, he had gained his nickname – The Bullet, for what couldn’t kill him – and he returned to his turret.

These are not pages to read before bed.

Giglio is captured and nearly executed, and he survives being hit by a suicide bomber. He sets these encounters on the table, like an indifferent dinner party host, as if to say, “Here it is. Make of it what you will.” And, of course, there is only one thing to make of it: ISIS is even worse than you thought.

I read Mike’s book during the vacant, pedestrian, moments of my mom-life. Sitting in my daughter’s gymnastics class, reading about the young Syrian mother who watched helplessly as a wall collapsed on all four of her children during a bombing. In the front seat of my minivan, parked at the high school, waiting for that once-toddler-now-teenager, reading about a man whose seven siblings were all killed by ISIS. Sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room while a friend’s wrist was being x-rayed, reading about ISIS fighters gathering body parts from numerous people into one duffel bag, only to leave the bag in the middle of a street.

I read about Mike, being zip-tied and beaten by a jeering mob in Egypt, before being thrown into a prison bus and carted to a sports arena, where sham trials and public executions were being held for political prisoners. And then the zip ties are cut from his wrists and he is inexplicably released. I think about the cub reporter I first met in my North Carolina living room, as eager for adventure as any young soldier.

‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie

He is in Iraq, embedded with a battalion from the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Force (ICTF) in Mosul when the results of the 2016 election are announced, and Americans of all political persuasions are melting down. He writes:

“I wondered if, when a country was at war for so long but only a select few ever waged it, the rest of society began to go a certain kind of crazy. Some played at civil war while others vowed to flee to Canada as political refugees, and too many Americans seemed to want to pull a bit of conflict into their lives just when so many people around the world were risking everything to escape from it.”

And then he finally escapes it himself, perhaps for good, writing this about then-new President Trump’s premature declaration of victory over ISIS: “As in the past, America was looking to move on from the region before the war was really over – leaving much of Iraq and Syria in ruins and ISIS still a threat. This was an impulse I embodied, too. As Colonel Arkan had once explained, the thing about going to war far from home is that you can always walk away from it.”

If you’re lucky, Mike. Only the lucky get to walk away.

Articles

That time China tried to pass off ‘Top Gun’ scenes as its own Air Force

Way back in January 2011, the Chinese Air Force’s 5th-generation fighter, the J-20, was making its first flight.


At that same time Chinese J-10s were flying an air combat exercise. This exercise featured their planes taking down 1950s-era American-built F-5 fighters with air-to-air missiles and they aired it on Chinese state television.

Except China’s featured fighter pilot was actually Maverick from the 1986 classic “Top Gun.”

‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie

According to Foreign Policy, the China-watcher blog “Ministry of Tofu” originally wrote about CCTV’s newscast right after it aired in China:

In the newscast, the way a target was hit by the air-to-air missile fired by a J-10 fighter aircraft and exploded looks almost identical to a cinema scene from the Hollywood film Top Gun.

It was pointed out that the jet the J-10 “hit” was actually an F-5, shot down by Tom Cruise’s F-14. He then placed the images side by side and commented further on their exact similarities.

‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie

Ministry of Tofu’s original post has since been deleted, but not before screenshots of the broadcast we quickly shared throughout the internet, alongside its suspected Hollywood counterpart.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Vietnam just banned ‘Abominable’ movie because of a map

Vietnam outlawed Dreamworks’ new animation “Abominable” on Oct. 14, 2019, because it showed a map acknowledging China’s claim to a disputed part of the South China Sea.

Multiple countries — including China, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines — have overlapping claims to the sea. Beijing claims a large portion of it as its own, and calls the U-shaped region demarcating it as the “nine-dash line.”

Dispute over waters near Vietnam flared in October 2019 after Vietnam claimed a Chinese ship rammed and sank a fishing vessel.


A still from “Abominable” circulating widely on Twitter on Oct. 13, 2019, showed a map clearly showing a variant of the dashed line in the South China Sea.

“We will revoke [the film’s license],” Ta Quang Dong, Vietnam’s deputy minister of culture, sports and tourism, told the country’s Thanh Nien newspaper on Sunday, Reuters reported.

The decision was directly a response to the map scene, Reuters added, citing an employee at Vietnam’s National Cinema Center.

The movie, directed by “Monsters, Inc.” writer Jill Culton, follows a young Chinese girl who wakes up to find a Yeti on her roof, and and is led on to a journey to the Himalaya mountains to find his family.

The Vietnamese-language edition of the movie — titled “Everest: The Little Yeti” — premiered in the country on Oct. 4, 2019, Reuters reported. It appeared to play for nine days before the culture ministry banned the movie.

Sen. Tom Cottons of Arkansas criticized the ban on Oct. 15, 2019, saying in a tweet that Dreamworks’ display of the nine-dash line was an example of “kowtowing to the Chinese Communist Party by American liberal elites.”

Oct. 9, 2019, broadcasters at ESPN used a map of China which incorporated Taiwan and the “nine-dash line” as part of its territory, sparking fresh criticism among Beijing’s critics.

Country sovereignty is a sensitive topic in China too: Multiple Western designer brands have also landed in hot water in China for identifying the semi-autonomous cities of Hong Kong and Macau as countries, rather than Chinese regions.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Articles

Here is how the US military would fight ‘Power Rangers’ villains

There have been many iterations of the Power Rangers, but the upcoming film from Lionsgate is packing some punch, not only in it’s killer cast (Elizabeth Banks and Bryan Cranston? Say no more!), but it’s progressive inclusion of an LGBQT superhero — the first for a blockbuster film.


With a new film comes new bad guys, so let’s take a look at how the military would combat the evil Rita Repulsa and her minions. The usual terrain will be the fictional city of Angel Grove, which was located in California (where early seasons of the TV show were filmed).

1. When Rita’s minions are normal size

In this case, Rita’s minions will have a lot of problems. If the present-day United States military has had a lot of experience in anything during the Global War on Terror, it’s what they call MOUT — military operation in urban terrain.

That’s a fancy way of saying, “full-scale street fire-fights.”

‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie
Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Johancharles Van Boers

The California location means that the closest active-duty units on the scene would be the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton and the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Irwin, plus whatever brigade is at the National Training Center.

These units would be springing into action, looking to evacuate civilians from the city while trying to inflict casualties on the invaders.

Here, they would also have the advantage of armored support from M1 Abrams tanks, M2 and M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, artillery support from M777 and M109 howitzers, and close-air support.

‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie
Photo: Spc. Evan D. Marcy | U.S. Army

This is one fight that Rita’s minions would have no hope of winning. The experience of American troops in this sort of combat in places like Fallujah, Baghdad, and Ramadi would come through very quickly.

2. When the bad guys are kaiju size

Of course, when the fight goes badly, Rita often had her monsters grow into kaiju-size robots (call it about 300 feet tall, roughly the same height as Godzilla in most of his film appearances).

Once the battle reaches this stage, the infantry will shift to evacuating civilians almost exclusively.

‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie
Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Julio McGraw

From the ground, artillery systems like MLRS and HIMARS would be used to hammer the skyscraper-sized bad guy, along with fire from the M1 tanks.

The Navy would also get involved, using Tomahawk cruise missiles from submarines and surface vessels. Naval gunfire would also be used in the fight.

‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie
A U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18C Hornet aircraft from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232 out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., takes off. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Karen J. Tomasik)

But the main attack would come from aircraft. While Navy and Marine Corps units around San Diego would be the closest, Air Force units in Utah and Arizona would also be capable of quickly responding, as would any active units carrying out a Red Flag exercise at Nellis Air Force Base.

Here, the best weapons would be laser-guided bombs, hoping to score a penetrating hit that would put the monster down.

‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie
A U.S. Air Force F-16 flies over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve April 5, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Corey Hook/Released)

The United States military might not succeed in actually killing the monster with conventional systems, but it would distract it long enough to carry out an evacuation of civilians. To actually kill the monster, it might come down to a B61 tactical nuclear weapon.

‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie
Could this be the only option to defeat one of Rita Repulsa’s monsters?

In either case, the United States military would be able to give Rita Repulsa one hell of a headache.

Check out the new trailer from Lionsgate below:

Humor

7 reasons why ‘Top Gun’ made you want to become a fighter pilot

The 1980s brought us some fantastic action movies like “Lethal Weapon” and “Die Hard,” which made movie-goers consider joining the police force.


When Tony Scott’s “Top Gun” landed in cinemas across the nation, it was an instant blockbuster, earning over 350 million worldwide according to box office mojo.

With the adrenaline-packed scenes the film offers, “Top Gun” audience members of all ages wanted to be the next Maverick.

‘Joker’ is definitely not going to be a ‘Batman’ movie
Jester’s dead! (Paramount)

Also Read: 5 heroic movie acts a military officer would never do

So check out these reasons why the average Joe would want to be the next great “Top Gun” fighter pilot.

1. Getting a kick-ass callsign

Face it — Maverick and Goose are pretty epic names — but be as original as possible if you get to pick yours.

2. Keeping up with foreign relations

Rarely do allied forces get close to their enemy on the battlefield, but to be inverted while sitting in a cockpit whilst flashing the grand FU gesture — that’s badass.

3. Attracting a hottie

There are many ways to pick up women at a squid bar. If you ever had an issue getting the girl as a civilian, we’ve got a solution: throw on that uniform.

Lady pilots, this works for you, too — just make sure you find a man who can appreciate a strong woman.

Oh, and don’t forget your wingman.

4. Wear aviator sunglasses

Nothing says “I am awesome” like putting on a blacked-out pair of aviators. This look never gets old.

5. Play shirtless volleyball

With arguably no real reason to be in the movie story-wise, the producers had some of Hollywood’s brightest stars in their film at the time and they took advantage.

It’s safe to say that no man, after watching Top Gun, doesn’t think about this scene while playing the popular beach sport.

6. Aerial Dogfighting

This is where the real ass kicking takes place. Naval aviators are some of the world’s best at aerial maneuvering to take down the enemy. All jokes aside, the dogfighting scenes are where the real motivation to be a fighter pilot begins.

Related: 7 kids who joined (even commanded) military units for a day

7. The theme song

We dare you to listen to this without getting amped or googling “how to become a fighter pilot”.

Can you think of any other? Comment below and let us know what your call-sign would be.