America’s favorite Gunny Sergeant, R. Lee Ermey was famous for his portrayal of Senior Drill Instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket. Ermey also went on to host a History Channel show called Mail Call, where he answered viewer questions about weapons, equipment, and military culture.
Lucky for us, the bloopers from Mail Call are available to watch — and they’re amazing. In Ermey’s own words,
“Now a SNAFU [Situation Normal: All F***ed Up] can come at any time at any size and at any shape and when things get screwed up, well, the Gunny just can’t hold his tongue… and that’s why you’re never gonna see this stuff during prime time!”
Check out this video to catch some incredible bloopers, in which Ermey somehow manages to make the f-bomb as wholesome as it is hilarious:
One of my favorite moments is at 2:20 when Ermey says, “Well, John, the answer to your damn, stupid-ass f***in’ question here…” before he dissolves into laughter.
The best thing about blooper reels is how they show the real personality of the actor — in this case, we get to see that Ermey had a great sense of humor in addition to abundant intelligence and a good nature. The video feels like hanging out with an old friend. Every time Ermey cracks up, I crack up.
At 17:35, he tackles a malfunctioning Browning Automatic Rifle and it’s glorious — he’s not even phased. “A little malfunction. Pull. Push. Aim.” The gun goes off and he cackles victoriously.
The man knew what he was talking about, and he had fun doing it.
Watching the video, I had fun, too. It’s a must see, so raise a toast to Ermey and enjoy.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Patrick M. Johnson-Campbell)
“Almost overwhelming, the urge to say jack s***, you know? Isn’t it?”
“We’ve passed on all we know. A thousand generations live in you now. But this is your fight. We’ll always be with you. No one’s ever really gone.”
A few more surprise credits include Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker (who, in addition to providing great trailer voiceover, will return, I suspect, as a Force Ghost, which really is canonically what they’re called) and Carrie Fisher’s Leia Organa (via archived footage reportedly from filming The Force Awakens).
OG Force Ghosts from Return of the Jedi.
Since J.J. Abrams’ highly anticipated release of The Force Awakens, it’s been clear that this trilogy is designed to pass the torch to the next generation of characters, including Daisy Ridley’s Rey, John Boyega’s Finn, Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron, and of course, (U.S. Marine) Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren. Episode IX will close out the triptych.
According to Disney CEO Bob Iger, this film will also close out the Skywalker saga, prompting the franchise to take a little hiatus.
“We have not announced any specific plans for movies thereafter. There are movies in development, but we have not announced them. We will take a pause, some time, and reset because the Skywalker saga comes to an end with this ninth movie. There will be other Stars Wars movies, but there will be a bit of a hiatus,” Iger told Bloomberg.
Challenges for this film will be to provide a satisfying resolution to a storyline that has spanned 40 years with some of the most beloved characters ever created (and a fan base whose vitriol has the capacity to rival even the military community’s yes I am looking at you in the YouTube comment section of our Mighty Minutes…).
More than that, Episode IX will also have to resolve the battle raging in Kylo Ren, the trilogy’s main antagonist — who also happens to be the son of Leia and Han Solo. That’s a lot to ask of one movie, but no matter what happens, it’ll be fun to watch it play out.
I get the sense that her family background will actually be significant…
(Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: Episode IX)
Should someone tell these guys that Rey is taking on a TIE fighter (variant unknown).
(Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: Episode IX)
The look on Billy Dee Williams’ face when he finally got the call from Disney.
(Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: Episode IX)
Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker will open on Dec. 20, 2019, and the good tickets will sell out so buy them early and maybe buy some extra to sell on ebay. You’re welcome. And may the Force be with you, obviously.
The Lord of the Rings saga is a gripping tale of teamwork, magic, and the triumph of good over evil against all odds… if you’re degenerate, decadent capitalist swine. The problem with the Lord of the Rings, in Russia’s view, is that history is written by the victors, Mordor might have been misunderstood, and it could have prospered if it weren’t for the external meddling of men, elves, and dwarves.
“Look, Sauron had a lot of good ideas.”
In 1999, Russian author Kirill Eskov penned, The Last Ringbearer, a version of the Lord of the Rings written from the view of Sauron’s forces. This alternative view of the saga features a lot of common historical ideas from the real Earth’s 20th Century applied to the fictional universe created by Tolkien, a departure from the Hobbit propaganda the Deep State (aka dwarves) would have you believe.
Eskov writes his novel under the premise that history is written by the victors, and a novel written by the vanquished would present an entirely different view of Tolkien’s creation. The Last Ringbearer is meant to counter Hobbit Propaganda that wants you to think that Gandalf and elves are anything but thieves and war criminals.
The Last Ringbearer actually accuses Gandalf of “crafting the Final Solution to the Mordorian problem.”
While readers of the Lord of the Rings were led to believe Mordor is an evil place, desolate and dedicated to the destruction of the world of men, The Last Ringbearer wants you to know the glorious world of Mordor was filled with engineers and artisans on the brink of a new industrial revolution, whose beauty was cut down in its prime by the imperialist pigs led by the Elves allied with the Elvish puppet Aragorn.
After the forces of Middle Earth slaughter orc civilians during an invasion of the land of Mordor, two orcs fleeing the elvish onslaught rescue a Gondorian noble who was sentenced to die for opposing the massacres of civilians. Together, they work to free the land of men from Elvish magic.
As if I needed any more proof Cate Blanchett is the root of all evil.
The book has never been officially translated into English, although amateur translations are available on the internet. The reason for this being the Tolkien estate is very protective of his work and will sue Eskov all the way to Vladivostok if given the opportunity. All kidding aside, it would be an interesting exercise for us all to consider our favorite stories and even real-world events from the point of view of the losers – maybe we would come to understand why some people are the way they are and accept them a little more.
Some vets with a tendency toward showmanship like to take their talents to YouTube or Hollywood when they hit the post-service world.
But the former F-16 fighter pilots behind Operation Encore took the old-school approach and are working to shatter some of the caricatures of veterans through music. The result is a blend of music genres from a variety of military-affiliated artists that range from folksy bluegrass to present-day pop rock — all of it relating to experiences of war that poke fun at life in the service and lament the tragedy of war.
Chris Kurek is the co-founder and partner with Viper Driver Productions. He’s better known as “Snooze,” one of the two founding members of the band Dos Gringos, a pair of F-16 pilots who released four satirical albums full of songs with titles like “I Wish I Had a Gun Just Like the A-10” to the NSFW drinking song “Jeremiah Weed” to the Willie Nelson-esque “TDY Again.”
The band kicked off when Kurek and his fellow jet jock Robert “Trip” Raymond were deployed to Kuwait for Operation Southern Watch and later Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“We were out there for six months, there was nothing else to do,” Kurek said. He and Raymond wrote some songs and performed for the rest of their squadron.
Their songs drew what Kurek described as “wonky eyes” from some, but their squadron commander was very supportive, encouraging them to record the songs on CD, even offering to put up the money.
“We were kind of writing on stuff that pointed out things that drive you crazy in the military,” he said.
Turns out Dos Gringos’ wing commander was less than pleased with their extracurricular enterprise and barred them from performing at the Cannon Air Force Base Officer’s Club.
But the band went viral in a 2003 sorta way via the enlisted maintenance personnel who particularly dug the song, “I’m a Pilot,” Kurek said. The semi-satirical ditty about a self-centered fighter jock — which evokes a sound similar to some songs from the 80s band Warrant — was passed around the flightline.
Eventually, Dos Gringos would put out three more albums —”2,” “Live at Tommy Rockers,” and “El Cuatro” — before the band had to go on hiatus due to pressure from higher ups as Raymond rose through the ranks.
They were not done with music, though. Both felt some frustration with how some caricatured vets and with what they perceived as an effort by Nashville to cash in on the veteran experience.
Kurek recounted that the war wasn’t always patriotism or sadness, pointing out there was a lot of “goofing off and laughter” because of “boredom.”
“Vets can write about anything,” Kurek said. Eventually, in a conversation with Erik Brine, a C-17 pilot who was a later addition to Dos Gringos, Kurek recounted someone asking, “I wonder if there are any other people who did what we did on deployment – bring a guitar and write songs.”
They began a search, and it was a pair of submissions from Stephen Covell, an Army medic who served with the 82nd Airborne Division, that prompted them to create Operation Encore.
“Those two alone were the best I ever heard,” Kurek said. “They conveyed a combat vet’s experience.”
Covell’s submissions pushed Kurek and Raymond to launch a Kickstarter campaign to pay for airfare, studio time, mixing and mastering.
While two albums, “Volume 1” and “Monuments,” have so far been released, Kurek notes the process has been a challenge, largely due to the way the music industry has changed. Kurek recounted that when the first Dos Gringos album came out, CDs were still king. The rise of iTunes and digital downloads were one shift which evened out – the volume increased, even as they got less per song.
With Operation Encore, though, the big challenge has been the fact that the music industry has shifted once again to streaming services, and it takes hundreds of thousands of streams to get real money. Furthermore, Kurek pointed out that Dos Gringos was a niche market, and their audience knew what they would get.
Operation Encore is different.
“Operation Encore is a compilation, not one band, sound, or genre,” he explained, pointing out some of the songs were pop rock, others country or bluegrass. Furthermore, the singers who appear are scattered all over the world. Just getting the performers together for a concert would entail airfare, hotel rooms, and equipment rental. Not to mention all the stuff that is in the riders for the artists.
Kurek, though, is still hot on his Iraq War-era band.
“I wish we could do one more Dos Gringos album,” he said.
Looking for a great show to watch that will challenge the way you look at things?
Netflix has just released “The Business of Drugs,” a documentary series that goes deep within the drug trade around the world. Now, I know what you are thinking: You have seen “Narcos,” Narcos Mexico,” “Cocaine Cowboys” and other shows and documentaries on the illicit drug trade.
“The Business of Drugs” aims to be a bit more eye opening than the rest.The Business of Drugs | Official Trailer | Netflix
Created by U.S. Navy SEAL and Executive Producer Kaj Larsen, and hosted by former CIA Officer Amaryllis Fox, the series will examine the illicit drug trade from around the world to here at home.
The series looks deep into the drug trade from where they originate and the pathways that are used to get them to their final destination. The Business of Drugs will trace the path of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, marijuana, and various other drugs and will reveal the business, violence and fallout along the way.
The series will also look at both the economics of drug trafficking and the economic impact of the trade.
Who makes the money and who loses big in a multi-billion dollar global enterprise?
Larsen hopes that by understanding narcotrafficking through the lens of business, the series will show that modern drug cartels operate as highly organized multinational corporations.
Fox embeds with traffickers in Colombia, DEA agents in Chicago, mules in Kenya and consumers right here in the States – in Los Angeles – and tells us the human story of a multi-billion dollar criminal industry. The former spy uses her formidable intelligence-gathering skills to finally expose the economics of exploitation and power that fuel the global war on drugs and who it affects.
Did you know:
Since 1971, the war on drugs has cost the United States an estimated id=”listicle-2646417222″ trillion.
Every 25 seconds someone in America is arrested for drug possession.
Almost 80% of people serving time for a federal drug offense are Black or Latino.
In the federal system, the average Black defendant convicted of a drug offense will serve nearly the same amount of time (58.7 months) as a white defendant would for a violent crime (61.7 months)
Despite studies showing that Black and white Americans use drugs at the same rate, convictions rates and sentencing lengths for Blacks is substantially higher. Republican Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, even referenced this when he spoke out against mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses.
This documentary is especially poignant now while Americans take a hard look at how the law is enforced among us. We learn that the War on Drugs is the single largest factor in the incarceration of
Black and brown people in the United States. Prosecuted as a strategic tool by governments and security services for over 30 years, the War on Drugs has put more people of color in prison than any other single policy.
“The Business of Drugs” brings these policies to our attention and makes us question if the “War” we are fighting is actually working or if we are wasting taxpayers’ money, costing lives and making things worse. Watch the series and decide for yourself.
The Magnum P.I. and Blue Bloods star may be best known for Hawaiian shirts and the Gatling gun of mustaches, but did you know he also served in the Guard?
After he was drafted during the Vietnam War, Selleck joined the 160th infantry regiment of the California National Guard. “I am a veteran. I’m proud of it,” he said. “I was a sergeant in the U.S. Army infantry, National Guard, Vietnam era. We’re all brothers and sisters in that sense.”
Selleck served from 1967 to 1973, including six months of active duty. Before his military career, however, Selleck had already begun to pursue the entertainment industry, including commercial work and modeling, which makes it no surprise that he would later appear on California National Guard recruiting posters.
Former National Guard member, Tom Selleck, shares Guard facts in this 1989 commercial
In the video, Selleck uses a mixture of voiceover and direct-to-camera dialogue interspersed with facts about the National Guard throughout modern conflicts and operations: “Some people think the National Guard is just an excuse for a bunch of guys to get together and have a good time. That they’re not as trained or committed as other branches of the military. That they’re weekend warriors — not real soldiers. And people wonder what business they have being in a foreign country. Well I can’t clear up all the misconceptions people have about the National Guard so let me leave you with one important fact: if you bring together all the ready forces of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Reserves, you still have only half the picture. The other half? The National Guard, skilled, capable, intelligent people. People like you and me. American’s at their best.”
The video is certainly different from what contemporary audiences are accustomed to. While modern recruiting videos show off assets and firepower, this one feels a little more solemn and defensive. This may be a reflection of the nation’s shift in National Guard duty rights during the 80s.
In 1986, Congress passed a Federal law known as the Montgomery Amendment, which removed state governors’ power to withhold consent for orders summoning National Guard units to active duty without a national emergency. The law was originally created in response to the decision made by several governors to withhold their consent to send units for training in Honduras. In 1989, a Federal appeals court upheld the law when it was challenged by the Massachusetts and Minnesota governors.
According to the 1989 Profile of the Army, additional missions were transferred to the National Guard and Army Reserve as the Army increased its focus as an integrated and cohesive “TOTAL FORCE” ready to respond to Soviet attacks on NATO or the Persian Gulf and defend U.S. interests abroad.
Selleck’s patriotism extended beyond his service to recruitment just in time to help boost numbers before the Persian Gulf War the following year.
With its vast training areas and prime location along California’s shorelines, Camp Pendleton is well known for producing the finest fighting forces on the West Coast. What Camp Pendleton might be less known for, however, is that it has been a backdrop to some of America’s most famous films. Throughout Camp Pendleton’s history, multiple movie producers have utilized its training grounds over Hollywood sets to recreate authentic war scenes of our Country’s most famous battles.
“[Working with the entertainment industry] gives us an opportunity to showcase assets and capabilities that are available to production companies,” said U.S. Marine Corps Master Sgt. Katesha Washington, Entertainment Media Liaison Office (EMLO). “It allows us also to accomplish our mission of telling the story of Marines.”
Camp Pendleton has an ongoing story to tell that continues each day. Since the base opened, over 20 films have been produced including “Sands of Iwo Jima,” starring, John Wayne. During the filming which also cast 2,000 Marines, producers transformed the installation to resemble the Japanese island also using elements to resemble the volcanic ash from Mt. Suribachi. Additional familiar titles include TNT’s television series, “The Last Ship,” and Columbia Media Corporation’s, “Battle Los Angeles.”
With access to starstruck active-duty Marines and their familiar training grounds, producers are able to create authentic scenes without a need to hire actors or build sets in some cases. But the Marine Corps does not merely reduce production costs without some benefit. In giving Marines opportunities to share the limelight with some of their favorite characters, the Marine Corps legacy is captured by telling its stories and reaching an audience, they might not typically reach.
For over a century, the Marine Corps has helped producers, writers and directors coordinate personnel, aircraft and equipment. “There are several steps leading up to filming a production,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Matthew Hilton, also with the EMLO. “We figure out how and if we can or cannot support.”
There have been countless stories told and countless stories yet to be told when it comes to Camp Pendleton’s rich history and tradition. Watching the actions of its Marines and sailors come to life on the big screen, both fictionally and non-fictionally only serves to preserve the Marine Corps heritage and real-life activities. And remember, the next time you watch your favorite action film, it just might have been filmed on the one and only Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
A former Army officer will spend his Independence Day Tuesday by competing in the renowned Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest.
“Buffalo” Jim Reeves was one of 20 other competitors to earn a spot on the nationally televised gastronomic event. He made the cut by eating 23 hot dogs.
“There’s no big secret to competitive eating,” Reeves told the Army Times. “You try your hardest and you’re either good or you’re not. I happened to be good.”
Reeves turned from soldier to competitive eater in 2002 by competing in the National Buffalo Wing Festival, where he finished as a finalist. He joined the Army in 1990 after completing reserve officers’ training corps at Clarkson University. He later attended the Engineer Officers’ Basic Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
Reeves served as a a platoon leader, acting company commander, battalion personnel officer and civil engineering officer before leaving the Army in 1998. He now makes a living as a math and computer science teacher in New York.
The former engineering officer’s technique is simple: he downs two hot dogs at a time by separating the hot dogs from the buns and dipping the buns in water to help facilitate swallowing.
Reeves may be good, but he will have to be at his all-time best if he stands a chance at winning Tuesday’s contest. The world-famous Joey Chestnut won last year’s contest by consuming 70 hot dogs, setting a new world record. Odds makers put Chestnut at a distinct advantage to defend his title, known as “The Mustard Belt.” The winner is expected to consume 67.5 dogs, meaning that Reeves will have to triple his qualifying number to have a shot at victory.
Who will play the next James Bond? Daniel Craig is ready to leave, which feels almost impossible. By the time No Time To Die hits theaters on October 8, 2021, Daniel Craig will have been the incumbent James Bond for 15 years. Interestingly, in that time, he’s only been in 4 007 movies, and No Time To Die will be his fifth, and final outing as the suave super-spy who loves to tell bad dad-pun jokes.
Prior to Craig, the actor who was Bond for the longest number of years was Roger Moore, who played Bond for 12 years between 1973 and 1985. Want proof that the movie industry was way different back then? Moore made seven different Bond films in that period. And, from 1963 to 1971, Sean Connery made six Bond movies, one more than Craig, in only 8 years. (He also took a break while George Lazenby made On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969.
The point is, historically, Craig’s tenure as Bond is somewhat unprecedented insofar as he’s been embedded into the public consciousness as James Bond for a decade-and-a-half, with a significantly smaller output than at least two of his predecessors. This isn’t Craig’s fault or anything, but the result is that it’s probably going to be very hard for movie audiences to accept a new actor in the role. Craig’s new Bond films have become cultural events insofar as they are as anticipated as much as they are actually watched. Spectre, the last Craig film was released in 2015, three years after the smash-hit success of Skyfall, which, was shocking, released six years after Craig’s breakthrough with Casino Royale. Daniel Craig’s Bond feels contemporary, but his tenure of Bond films are actually now just a part of early 21st Century film history.
So, who the hell is going to replace him? Bond boss Barbara Broccoli has gone on record that the character of James Bond will always be a man. That said, it’s almost been 100 percent confirmed that Lashana Lynch’s new agent in No Time To Die might be assigned the number “007,” since that designation is interestingly not unique to the character of Bond. (In several iterations of the character, Bond inherits that number from a previously deceased agent.)
James Bond then will live on as a new man, even if 007 becomes a new character, possibly played by Lynch. So, thinking about the next Bond, which actors are even worthy?
5. Tom Hardy
He’s been Bane. He’s been Venom. He’s even played the younger-clone of Captain Picard. Could Tom Hardy make a convincing James Bond, or do we associate him too much with anti-heroes? Back in September 2020, a huge rumor made the rounds that not only was Hardy in contention to play Bond but that the deal was a lock. Since then, we haven’t heard much, but if there’s one actor on this list who feels very similar to the rugged and dangerous feeling of Daniel Craig, it’s probably Tom Hardy. But will it happen? Is Tom Hardy 007’s reckoning?
4. Henry Cavill
Back before Daniel Craig was cast as 007 for Casino Royale, Henry Cavill auditioned for EON and was seriously considered. Yes, you probably think of Cavill as Superman, (or The Witcher, or more recently Sherlock Holmes) but in 2005 he was very close to becoming Bond. Sure, he’s famous for his faux-American accent, but Cavill is British. At 37-years-old right now, he’s kind of the perfect age to take over for Bond. And, if he got it, he’d be the second Bond to have played Sherlock Holmes (Roger Moore played Holmes in 1976), and the absolute first who had also played Superman.
That’s right. Finn from the Star Wars sequel trilogy is a real contender for a new Bond for several reasons. For one thing, his fame could actually mean that doing Bond could almost scan as John Boyega doing that franchise as a favor. The Bond films need Boyega, arguably more than he needs them. The notion of a Black Bond has been floated for a long, long time. Boyega was born in London, meaning Bond is, in some ways, a natural fit. That said, Boyega is 28-years-old, which would make him the youngest Bond of all time, period. Though, as Esquire notes, even Boyega has admitted he’s still a “bit too young” for the role.
Of all the names on this list, Sam Heughan has been in the news a whole lot, discussing the possibility of becoming the next Bond. The star of Outlander has said he doesn’t want to “jinx” his chances at becoming Bond, and most recently added that he didn’t think Bond should be too “posh.” As Jamie on Outlander, Heaughan has already made a huge name for himself as a TV leading man. Notably, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan did the same thing before becoming Bond. Heaughan is also Scottish, and if cast as Bond, would be the first Scottish Bond since Sean Connery.
1. Someone You’ve Barely Heard Of
An early publicity still of Daniel Craig as Bond
Something that every tends to forget is that back when Daniel Craig was cast as James Bond, the initial response from a lot of press was negative. If you were a hip kid who watched a random British thriller, then you knew he was amazing in Layer Cake. If you’d gone to see the first Angelina Jolie Tomb Raider film, then you were aware he was in that movie, but you probably forgot because he was playing second fiddle to freaking Angelina Jolie. The point is, Daniel Craig was not Daniel Craig in 2006. When he was cast, he was disparaged as “James Blond” since, apparently, some people thought Bond had to have really dark hair. It’s also notable that in the early press for Casino Royale Daniel Craig’s haircut was totally different than the close-cropped look we’re used to. When he was the first cast, for many, he didn’t feel like Bond yet.
Obviously, from the first moment of Casino Royale, all of that changed. James Bond doesn’t. become James Bond until we see him on screen. And whoever follows Daniel Craig will be exactly the same, regardless if they were famous for doing something other than drinking very precise martinis.
“Transpecos,” winner of the SXSW Film Festival’s Audience Award, deals with what happens to a Border Patrol agent when he gets dragged to the other side by a drug cartel. It’s an impressive directorial debut from independent filmmaker Greg Kwedar.
Kwedar, whose work includes commercials, documentaries, and short films, took six years to make “Transpecos.” To research the film, he worked with the U.S. Border Patrol, an agency that’s reluctant to share its methods – for good reason. Their mission isn’t just keeping illegal immigrants out of the United States, they’re also fighting a massive, brutal enemy with unlimited funding and firepower, and no rules.
“Transpecos” is the story of three Border Patrol agents, a rookie named Davis (played by Johnny Simmons), a seasoned professional, Flores (Gabriel Luna), and salty veteran Hobbs (Clifton Collins, Jr.). They man a remote checkpoint somewhere near the U.S.-Mexican border. When one stop goes from routine to nightmarish, all three end up fighting for their lives.
“There’s this famous Western line: ‘silver or lead?,'” says Greg Kwedar, the director who co-wrote the script with Clint Bentley. “Money’s not a vulnerability for everyone. They [Border Patrol] have higher standards to live by. The leverage can be their own personal safety or that of their family. If an agent can rise above that then the cartel might say, “Who do you care about? We’ll use them.”
That’s exactly what happens in the film. Drug cartels use an agent’s family to force him to allow shipments of cocaine across the border. The Border Patrol agents find themselves torn between duty and family, between fulfilling their mission and protecting their own.
(Samuel Goldwyn Films)
To get access to the real Border Patrol agents Kwedar and his team went out into the desert and got lost (or pretended to be) in the hopes of finding agents who were on the job — a highly unorthodox and potentially dangerous process.
“Once they realized we weren’t antagonistic, that we really wanted to know more about them and their work, they really opened up to us,” Kwedar says. “They invited us into their world and from that we found real friendships, running the gamut from grabbing a beer in a one-stoplight town to sitting down with their families at dinner.”
The characters – Davis, Flores, and Hobbs – are the heart of the film. The Border Patrol depicted in “Transpecos” could just as well be any military checkpoint or remote combat outpost anywhere in the world. It’s hot and desolate. The guys manning the checkpoint can be just as bored as any troops on deployment at any given time. They even have to go out on foot patrols.
“It was 110 degrees Fahrenheit on some of those days,” says Johnny Simmons, who portrays the green Agent Davis. “Our boots were melting, we were covered in sweat at the end of the day when we took off our Kevlar. My brother is a Marine and working on this film brought me a little closer to what it must be like for him … only he and so many others do it every day.”
The credit for this realism goes to the film’s technical advisor, Sam Sadler. Sadler is a retired Border Patrol agent who joined the service at age 17. Before he retired, he was the second in command at Deming Station, New Mexico, the area where “Transpecos” was filmed. He rode ATVs; he rode horseback. He tracked people through the desert by their footprints, the way Native American tribes used to – a practice still in use by agents today. By the end of his 25 years on the border, Sadler was the go-to guy.
“[Kwedar and Sadler] gave us a great roadmap to the script,” said Clifton Collins, Jr., who plays the experienced, by-the-book Agent Hobbs. “They took us off the leash in regards to the research and I really brought a lot of that to the table.”
At heart, Kwedar made the film for Border Patrol agents and their families. Sadler taught the actors the protocol and search methods to make sure they got the details right.
“These guys are so isolated, and it takes a special person to be able to do that,” Gabriel Luna, who plays Agent Flores, said. “Working on this film really cleared up my view of the Border Patrol. These men and women are just regular people. They’re human, they’re doing this job day in and day out, and it’s such an incredible thing.”
“Transpecos” is now available nationwide on demand and digital including Comcast, DirecTV and iTunes. It will be released on DVD September 27, 2016.
Dune is a legendary sci-fi/fantasy novel that has just been waiting for the right filmmaker to bring it to life (much like The Lord of the Rings). Many have tried. All have failed (sorry, David Lynch). Frank Herbert’s novel built a rich world with fascinating characters but — for modern readers who have honed their tastes on Patrick Rothfuss and even Orson Scott Card — Dune is boring dense, yo.
And I’ll just say it. The Lord of the Rings was dense, too. The pacing of these novels do not hold up for readers — but, as Peter Jackson proved, they can still make for epic films.
Enter Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049). The Oscar nominee will direct the latest adaptation of the iconic film — and I gotta say, based on the trailer, I’m feeling hopeful:
Dune tells the story of Paul Atreides (played by Little Women’s Timothée Chalamet), a young man destined to rule the most dangerous planet in the universe, where forces battle over a substance with the ability to unlock humanity’s greatest potential. When betrayal leaves him and his gifted mother exiled in the unforgiving sands of Arrakis, only their unique powers — and their mastery over the mind-killer — can save them.
Villaneuve set himself up for success with an absolutely killer cast: obviously, Chalamet is super hot right now, as are Zendaya (Euphoria, Spider-Man: Homecoming), Oscar Isaac (Star Wars Episodes VII-IX), Marvel alumni Josh Brolin and Stellan Skarsgård, and Rebecca Ferguson (Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, Mission: Impossible – Fallout).
Hebert’s book is so detailed that the film will be told in two parts, with the first set to release December 18, 2020 (if humans can survive that long). Villaneuve’s adaptation has been a massive undertaking — he spent a year on the design of the iconic sandworms alone.
“We talked about every little detail that would make such a beast possible, from the texture of the skin, to the way the mouth opens, to the system to eat its food in the sand,” the director told Empire magazine for the publication’s Summer 2020 issue. “It was a year of work to design and to find the perfect shape that looked prehistoric enough.”
Check out the trailer above to see one in action and to behold the glory of Arrakis.
Troy Nunley was 17 years old when he left the farm and joined the Navy. He was assigned to the USS Indianapolis (CA 35), and as he stood on the pier at Mare Island he couldn’t believe any man-made thing could be so massive.
“I’d never seen a tractor that big,” he says.
The recollections of Nunley and over a hundred others are the main thread of “The USS Indianapolis: The Legacy Project,” a documentary directed and produced by Sara Vladic who spent over ten years putting it together. Her choice to let the surviving crew members tell their own story has resulted in a powerful film, one that tells the story of a star-crossed surface combatant while also capturing the timeless themes of survival, courage, and the fight to set the record straight on behalf of the man who led them.
(Photo: U.S. Navy Historical Center)
The Indianapolis was very active in the early years of World War II, fighting in campaigns across the Pacific Ocean, from the Aleutian Islands and Iwo Jima where the ship was close enough to see what was going on ashore.
“They said they’re raising the flag, and I said big deal and walked away,” says Adolfo Celaya, who was a fireman’s apprentice aboard the big battle cruiser. “How did I know it was going to be famous?”
At Okinawa the Indianapolis’ luck ran out. After shooting dozens of Japanese kamikazes out of the sky, one got through and hit the ship on the fantail. The airplane’s bomb knifed through several levels until it exploded in the engine room, killing nine members of the crew and injuring 30 others. The ship was forced to limp back to San Francisco for repairs, sailing the entire leg of the journey with a 17-degree list.
As the ship was being repaired at Mare Island, the crew was given 30 days of leave, and when it was over many of them returned fearing what the next leg of their deployment might bring.
“The last day I was home my mother was sitting on the front porch, and she said, ‘I know something’s wrong. You don’t act like yourself,” Cleatus LeBow says. “And I said, ‘I’m dreading going back this time.”
The Indianapolis stopped by Hunter’s Point on the way out to sea and picked up a large crate that was heavily guarded and bolted to the passageway outside of the commanding officer’s cabin. Rumors started to fly among the crew about what the mysterious cargo might be.
Lebow says his guesses were, “Cadillac for MacArthur or whiskey for everybody to sell at the end of the war.”
“The best scuttlebutt I heard was that we were carrying was that we had 20,000 rolls of scented toilet paper for Douglas MacArthur,” adds Paul Murphy, who was a third class petty officer at the time.
As the Indianapolis sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the senior enlisted men turned to Buck Gibson and said, “Look at that bridge good. A lot of us will never see it again.”
The ship transited the Pacific at a record pace, averaging 29.5 knots between San Francisco and Tinian.
“There was more gold braid on that pier that I’ve ever seen before,” Clarence Hershberger says.
After unloading its mystery cargo, the Indianapolis headed west across the Philippine Sea for Leyte. The ship was sailing solo in spite of the fact that, as Hershberger says, “It is stated many times in Navy manuals that our ship our size must have a destroyer escort.”
At midnight on July 30, 1945, the Indianapolis was hit by several torpedoes fired from a lurking Japanese submarine. The first one sliced the bow off; the second ignited the aviation gas stores, causing many of the sailors to burn to death. The ship sank in 12 minutes.
“I had only been on the ship for 13 days,” Donald Blum remembers.
The crew spent five days and nights in the water, fighting thirst, sun, and sharks. Some men succumbed to madness and swam for a mirage only to drown or be attacked by sharks. Some drank seawater and died of dehydration.
On the fourth day, a lone PV-1 spotted the survivors. From that point forward, the pilot, Lt. Chuck Gwynn, would be known to them as “our angel.”
Another pilot landed a PBY seaplane and loaded 56 men aboard, including laying them across the top of the wing. Ships started arriving in the area, shining searchlights, which hazarded them in potentially enemy sub-infested waters but raised the spirits of the survivors.
The survivors were loaded aboard the rescue vessels, and only then — after the oil-soaked men identified the ship that they were attached to — did the rest of the fleet realize that the Indianapolis had been sunk. Of the 1,197 men who went into the water, only 317 were pulled out of the water alive.
In time, the survivors were taken to Guam to convalesce. In mid-August, one of the nurses showed a group of them a newspaper with the headline that the bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima. The mystery of their cargo was finally solved.
But their trial wasn’t over, literally. That fall the Indianapolis commanding officer, Capt. Charles McVeigh, was court-martialed for “failure to zigzag” and for waiting too long to give the order to “abandon ship.” In a wild twist of fate, the Navy called the commander of the Japanese submarine, Mochitsura Hashimoto, to testify.
Hashimoto said that zigzagging wouldn’t have saved the Indianapolis, but the court found McVeigh guilty anyway. Admiral Chester Nimitz later remitted his sentence, but the court of public opinion never did. McVeigh — harboring great guilt for those lost under his command — shot himself on his front lawn, holding a toy sailor in his other hand. He was 70 years old.
The remaining survivors, always of a mind that their skipper got a raw deal from the Navy, kept pushing for legislation that would clear his name. The finally found a champion in Cdr. Bill Toti, the CO of the new USS Indianapolis, a nuclear submarine. Toti invited the survivors to join him at the commissioning ceremony for his sub, and after sitting down with them and realizing their enduring love and respect for their skipper, he led an effort to get the Navy to exonerate Capt. McVeigh’s record. President Clinton signed the resolution in 2000, 55 years after the Indianapolis went to the bottom of the Pacific.
(Editor’s note: Sara Vladic won “Best Female Director” honors at this year’s GI Film Festival that was just held in the Washington, DC area. For more on “The Legacy Project” go here.)
For the first time ever, EA Sports’ “Madden” franchise will feature a story mode in “Madden NFL 18.” Called “Longshot,” the story is about overcoming all odds, not just winning football games or scoring the big contract.
“Longshot” is the story of Devin Wade, a quarterback who played at the University of Texas but joined the Army in the middle of his college career. While in, one of Wade’s commanding officers encourages him not to give up on his dream of starting in the NFL.
The captain in “Longshot” is played by a real Green Beret, whose story is very similar to that of Devin Wade. Army veteran Nate Boyer was a Special Forces soldier who played at Texas after leaving the Army.
“It was a big coincidence that the storylines were so similar, especially with him going to University of Texas,” Boyer told We Are The Mighty. “Some things are switched around. Devin Wade went to college first and then joined the army and now is going back to try and play football in the NFL. But still, it was kind of weird.”
Boyer is joined in the cast by “Moonlight” and “Luke Cage” actor Mahershala Ali, who plays Devin’s dad, Cutter, as well as real pro players J.R. Lemon and Dan Marino.
Even the title “Longshot” resonates in Nate Boyer’s life. ESPN featured Boyer and his story in a piece called “The Longshot.”
ESPN’s feature documented then-34-year-old Boyer trying to get on the Seattle Seahawks as a long snapper after leaving the University of Texas.
“When I came out of the army I was 29 and I never played football in my entire life,” Boyer recalls. “I just wanted to try and make the University of Texas roster. That was like my first goal: Just make the team.”
Then Boyer wanted to get on the field. He did. Then he wanted to start. For three years, Boyer was the starting long snapper for the Longhorns. He even made Academic All Big-12 during his tenure.
Now Boyer will play Capt. McCarthy, U.S. Army. He’s part-mentor to Devin, part-life coach. Like Boyer, McCarthy pushes his troops to live without regrets – that they could do anything if they want it badly enough.
“Captain McCarthy was kind of like the voice in my own head,” says Boyer. “The good voice. The angel, not the devil on the other shoulder, sort of pushing myself and encouraging myself and wanting me to believe in myself.”
The story mode in “Madden 18” is a simplified version of the game, according to Kotaku. The plays are called by the computer and there are no time outs. You can only control Devin and whichever receiver gets the ball. But you do get to play a pick-up game in a deployed location.
To any aspiring “Devin Wades” out there who might be wearing the uniform of the United States right now, but who hope to wear an NFL uniform (or any uniform) in the future, Boyer recommends fearlessness and hard work.
“No matter what it is you’re interested in, if it’s something positive and it challenges you, just go for it,” he says. “Even if you’re a little afraid to pursue it, just put everything you have into it. Take the things you overcome and accomplish, the sacrifices you make, and apply that moving forward. The military is a stepping stone, not the pinnacle of your life. Find that next challenge.”